Stories from Mary Kay Magistad

Mary Kay Magistad is formerly The World’s East Asia correspondent. She lived and reported in the region for two decades. Mary Kay is now based in San Francisco.

During her time in Asia, she traveled regularly and widely throughout China and beyond, exploring how China’s rapid transformation has affected individual lives and exploring the bigger geopolitical, economic and environmental implications of China’s rise. She stepped back every so often to do an in-depth series on such topics as the China’s urbanization — the biggest and most rapid move from the countryside to the cities in human history, on the potential for innovation in China, and on the ripple effects on Chinese society of the One Child Generation coming of age. Mary Kay’s seven-part series on that subject, called “Young China,” won a 2007 Overseas Press Club Award, one of several awards she has received.

Mary Kay started out in Southeast Asia, based in Bangkok, as a regular contributor to NPR, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and other news media. She covered the Cambodian civil war and the UN peace process, the Burmese army’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and the United States’ wary rapprochement in the early ‘90s with Vietnam. Mary Kay also reported farther afield, covering the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda, tensions with Iraq in Kuwait, and other stories.

Mary Kay became NPR’s full-time Southeast Asia correspondent in 1993, and in 1996 she opened NPR’s first Beijing bureau. She took time out for two fellowships at Harvard — a Nieman and a Radcliffe fellowship — enough time to realize China was too interesting a story to leave — before going back to China for The World.

Mary Kay graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in journalism and history, and has an MA in international relations from the University of Sussex in England, completed on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship.

Recent Stories

Arts, Culture & Media

Propaganda, American style: A Khrushchev's perspective

Many Americans might think propaganda is something that happens elsewhere, but in the War on Terror, Nina Khrushcheva saw and heard tropes familiar to her, having grown up in the Soviet Union as the great-granddaughter of former leader Nikita Khrushchev. Now a US citizen and New School professor in New York, she teaches propaganda, and hopes more Americans will become more propaganda-literate. She shares some ideas on where to start.

Science, Tech & Environment

The Maker Movement that was born in the USA has taken on Chinese characteristics

The Maker Movement was made in the USA, but it's now gone global, to dozens of countries, encouraging people to (re)discover the joy and satisfaction that comes from making something with your own hands, to go from just consuming to also producing. But what if you've already been making for decades, as the factory of the world? Chinese makers embrace the fun and creativity in the movement; the government sees it as a tool to increase China's innovation and drive economic growth. They want to add structure and control. But what if unstructured fun is a path to innovation?

Conflict & Justice

An uneasy history of US-China conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories can appeal to the cynical, the distrustful and the anxious. They've been woven through the past century of China-US relations, on both sides, more often at some times than others. Here's a look at one of them, that starts with a young American missionary turned military intelligence operative, and the myth and reality behind why a staunch anti-Communist group decided to make him their patron saint, with Terry Lautz, author of "John Birch: A Life."