Cotton’s Bar is my new hiring hall

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post (and comments).

Tonight at the foreign correspondents’ get-together at Cotton’s Bar on Anting Lu, I offered jobs to three people.

The first, Connie, was sharp as a tack, smart, organized, a finance student at Fudan University who’s interested in a journalism career — the perfect job candidate. The second was an old friend who’s written for me before, Travis, now interning for the New York Times. (Do I have an eye for talent, or what?)

The third guy, I think, was named Bill. He introduced himself as a Russian spy. I think he was Canadian. It was around midnight by this time, and several Bloody Mary’s and beers later. He and his friend .. Josh? … were independent video guys.

Fons (Tuinstra, the speakers’ bureau guy and the FCC founder) and magazine publisher Edmund Chow and I had been discussing a Japanese-American Internet video project having to do with interviewing business leaders in China.

Both Bill and … Josh? … were looking for work. I think. Bill was interested in print reporting, as well. I think.

Note to self: stop offering jobs to people after the second beer.

Actually, it might still work out. If Bill remembers me after he sobers up, and finds my card, and stops by the office, and turns out to be half-way intelligent, I might take him on board after all. I’m perennially short-staffed and I saw him chatting away in French to French financial journalist Benoit Florencon, and in Russian to Denis Antipov, a database developer for magazine websites. From what I could tell, Bill’s Russian and French were both pretty damn good. And he claimed to know a bunch of other languages, as well. Hey there.

One of Bill’s friends, an Australian, was just about to start a biking trip to Tibet. Unfortunately, he arrived just after Edmund left. Edmund is always on the lookout for travel writers.

At just before midnight, I had to call it quits. Editors were waiting for rewrites. When I left, the Australians and the Germans were still drinking with the Australian and the French guy.

Celebrity novelist Wang Lili couldn’t make it tonight — she was in Australia. But she sent me an email and Fons an SMS about her trip. She’s about to interview a mayor down there.

Fons suggested that I run for the FCC board. He’s the second person to tell me that this week. I do like the attention. But what would I do, except get people drunk? Oh, and offer entry-level jobs.

I can see my platform now: “Vote for Maria. She’ll buy you a beer. And then exploit you.”

Actually, it sounds dirty. Maybe it will work.

Signing off in Shanghai,