When I say "local media interest," I'm talking the TV station in Baoshan, near the bridge, and YNTV, which is a regional TV network in Yunnan Province. (If you know Mandarin, you can look at Yunnan TV's own website here.)
The original plan (and still the plan) is to have a ceremony at the Chang Kan bridge on October 29, the 60th anniversary of my grandfather's death. My uncle and my father have written a statement commemorating my grandfather and our visit, which they plan to read at the ceremony. Our tour guide, Jasmine, has arranged for the ceremony to be covered by the Baoshan TV station. Recently, though, Yunnan TV got wind of our visit and has asked if they can conduct an hour-long interview with us on the day of the ceremony. They also upped the ante by proposing that they follow our entire trip, from our arrival in Beijing to our departure nine days later!
This is an unexpected level of interest, and we're debating how much access we want to give the media. My uncle asked us all to weigh in on the proposal, but I haven't yet heard whether a consensus has been reached. On the one hand, it's nice to have so much interest in our visit from within China. We are honored in the interest in our grandfather and his family, and are pleased at this opportunity for a cross-cultural human interest story. It is very pleasing that CK's accomplishments and sacrifice are remembered in his homeland. Plus, if the coverage would mean we'd get a copy of the footage to take home, it could be a very nice way to document our visit.
On the other hand, having TV cameras in our faces as we try to enjoy the sites in China is a bit more of a fuss than we were expecting or, frankly, are prepared for. In their proposal, YNTV promised not to intrude too much on our trip, and that the coverage would not reflect badly on CK or our family. This is reassuring, but the thought of having cameras in our faces and having to be "on" throughout the trip is a little unsettling.
Meanwhile, we are preparing for the YNTV interview. My uncle has already sent copies of old family photos he has to the network. More background material has been found in the form of old home movies that were made when a family friend visited my grandmother and grandfather in China in the 1930s. (How cool is that?!) Finally, my brother visited the library at RPI, where my grandfather received his engineering degree in 1925. He was able to look at my grandfather's thesis, for which he won the McDonald Prize--RPI's award for the top graduating thesis of the year--but was unable to check it out. The librarian told my brother that the thesis may be available for inter-library loan, so I'm attempting to get the thesis so I can somehow copy it before our departure. If that fails, a colleague has sons who attended RPI and may be able to use their alumni privileges to borrow it. If I can get my hands on the thesis, I will scan it if the binding will stand the strain. If not, I plan to photograph it.
We hope to bring digitized copies of all of this material when we go to China, in order to provide the TV stations with information they can use for background for whatever story they do about us.