Michael Zhao is a multimedia producer who focuses on environmental issues in China. From 2003 to 2005, he was a News Assistant in the Beijing Bureau of The New York Times, where he worked with Pulitzer Prize winners Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley. While reporting with Yardley on the shrinking Crescent Lake in Dunhuang, Gansu province, a tourist spot along the ancient Silk Road in Northwestern China, Zhao took a picture with his point-and-shoot camera that ended up being used on the front page of the Times despite his lack of professional training in photography at that time.
Zhao later attended the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied multimedia journalism and switched focus from print to new media. He finished a thesis project in multimedia about electronic waste from developed countries being dumped in China. This project was advised by Orville Schell, who was then Dean of the School of Journalism. Zhao now works for Schell in the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. With the Center, Zhao has launched China Green, a site focusing on China’s environmental issues. He has also recently launched China Air Daily, an interactive website on air pollution.