Former New York Times correspondent discusses his coverage of Asia

When Richard Halloran was in Shanghai, China, the local press told him how censorship worked there: “we just know what we can or cannot print.

Halloran was an Asia correspondent for Business Week from 1962 to 1964, The Washington Post from 1966 to 1968 and The New York Times from 1972-1976. He was also a military correspondent for The New York Times from 1979-1989.

He is the author of six books, including “Japan: Images and Realities.” He also gave a talk on “The Rising East and China” at St. Edward’s University on Oct. 4, 2011.

In an interview, Halloran recalled his time spent overseas and the resistance he met there, including in the notoriously oppressive China.

“I encountered daily resistance from the [local] government, from sources, [and] from the U.S. Embassy that didn’t want me to do a certain story,” Halloran said.

The most sobering moment of his life, Halloran said, came while he was stationed in South Korea. Halloran ran into a man he had once used as a source. The two went to a tea shop, and Halloran asked the man where he had been.

“I found out that the man was in jail for one year. When I asked him why, he said he had been seen talking to me,” Halloran said.

Halloran added that since then, he has been very careful not to expose his sources.

Halloran got his start in journalism at his college newspaper, the Michigan Daily of the University of Michigan.

“We printed six days a week, and I consider it my apprenticeship,” he said.

Since then, Halloran has witnessed major changes in the way news is distributed and read. Halloran remembers when newspapers were the prime source for news, but he saw it change with large-scale events such as the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy.

“I’ll never forget the view of [the shuttle] spiraling down,” Halloran said. “No writer in the world can be as graphic as motion pictures.”

Although Halloran believes the nature of journalism is evolving very quickly, he still believes newspapers are here to stay.

“You get your breaking news from the television, but if you want to see the cause and effect of a story, you turn to newspapers,” Halloran said. “We’re still the first draft of history and the check of television.”

Halloran said he has also seen a change in journalism with the rise of social media.

Twitter users and visitors increased 200 percent in 2009, according to the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism.

“This so-called social media … new media has come along and they keep spewing out cacophonies of these things,” Halloran said. “I don’t give a damn about what you think, just give me the facts.”