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One of the more glamorous career paths that JMSC graduates choose is to become a TV news reporter or anchor.
Many JMSC alumni of both Bachelor and Master programmes have ended up on screen for TV stations in Hong Kong, mainland China and around the world.
Priscilla Ng (BJ 2007) is a well known face in Hong Kong because she presents the news at 7:30pm on the local station, TVB.
“I started off as a reporter when I first joined TVB a little over two years ago,” said Ng. “I would go out on assignments and report on a wide range of daily news. I covered news in all aspects, e.g. breaking news, politics, education, medical and financial news. After less than a year in the post, I was asked to try out the anchoring position. At the beginning, I did mostly the headline news and the weather reports, but slowly, I was given more opportunities to host financial programs and the news roundup. Then, quite recently, I began hosting the main evening news.”
Ng loves her job and thinks it’s made her a more rounded person. “I am a person who needs to feel like I am constantly learning,” she said. “Doing live reports (e.g. during the typhoon season) is a test of my reaction and tolerance levels. Presenting the news has made me a much more confident individual.”
Carol Zhou (MJ 2008) works as a news anchor for Mandarin-language Phoenix TV in Hong Kong. Zhou graduated from the Communication University of China in 2004. During her time there she interned at Phoenix TV in Beijing where she covered political and social stories in China. Following her Master of Journalism at the JMSC in 2008, she was transferred to Phoenix TV’s Hong Kong Headquarters.
“Being a television journalist is not easy in the era of ‘any minute is your deadline’,” said Zhou. “The JMSC programme empowered me to confront this challenge and prepared me to survive in the news industry where major breaking stories come unexpectedly.”
Tesa Arcila (PDipJ 2008) is a correspondent and news presenter working in Moscow for Russia Today, the first Russian English-language 24 hour news channel.
Arcila loves her job. “I’m almost always doing live reports and that’s always exciting,” she said. “We get sent on trips to various regions in Russia, plus being in Moscow is exciting!!”
Deirdre Wang Morris (MJ 2010) is an anchor on CCTV News’ business and finance programme, Biz Asia, in Beijing. Wang Morris worked in the mining industry after she finished her undergraduate studies at the University of McGill in Canada.
“I went to work one day at Rio Tinto in Shanghai and there were dozens of reporters camped out in our lobby. Four of my colleagues had been arrested on charges of espionage. I think I realized then that I wanted to be on the other side of news, doing the reporting. But leaving the industry and going into journalism was a real leap of faith. Participating in the JMSC’s ABC News on Campus project cemented my interest in broadcast news.”
Asked what the highs and lows of her new career have been Morris replied, “The high has been jumping right into live television. The low, is well…jumping right into live television. Anything can happen from the teleprompter switching off to losing a live feed to a coughing fit – all mid-broadcast!”
Wang Morris credits the JMSC with giving her the skills for the job. “I can’t say enough about the support from professors and colleagues at HKU,” she said. “Barry Kalb helped hone my writing skills while Jim Laurie and Rob McBride mentored me in broadcast journalism. I now write, edit and present my own market updates on live television twice a night. Rusty Todd’s market commentaries certainly prepared me well for the time pressure of writing them. The ABC News on Campus programme was probably the highlight of my time at the JMSC. Nothing compares to getting out into the field with some of your classmates and professors to put together a package from start to finish to air on American TV.”
Lorea Solabarrieta (MJ 2010) is another news and business anchor for CCTV in Beijing.
“The highs of the job are seeing your work pay off immediately because on television, you can shoot a story in a day and it’ll be on air immediately,” she said. “You don’t have to wait long, to see the end result compared to other media. Anchoring is LIVE and there is a certain thrill from talking to correspondents in real time – and being able to reach all corners of the world from your seat in the studio.”
Zela Chin (MJ 2010) is a reporter/producer for TVB Pearl’s weekly business programme. She is out daily on reporting assignments with a camera crew under her direction.
“The job takes me all over Hong Kong, and occasionally other places in the region, and it gives me the chance to interview and interact with a variety of people, some of them well known in Hong Kong, such as Legco member, James To or Ogilvy CEO, Adam O’Conor,” said Chin. “It is often a mad rush to get the programme edited and ready for broadcast but that is part of what makes the job so interesting, challenging, and, at the same time, very rewarding!
Chin interned at TVB when she was doing her undergraduate degree. This experience launched her into journalism; she subsequently worked at CNN headquarters in America and in Hong Kong. After she got her MJ degree at the JMSC, Chin decided to head back into television. She loves her new job, despite the challenges.
“One of the main challenges is that often the story starts developing right before the deadline which means rewrites and often changing the entire focus and angle of the programme,” she said. “A good example is the recent report I did about privacy protection in Hong Kong. Right before the deadline, the Privacy Commissioner held a press conference and released their report on the Octopus privacy issue. Since this happened right before the deadline we had to rewrite the entire programme and reshoot entire segments to work this major new development into the programme.”
Jaymee Ng (BJ 2009) is the Anchor for the weekly Hong Kong economic update that is part of Newsline on the Japanese TV network, NHK World in Hong Kong. Ng started at the company as a researcher after graduating from the JMSC but was quickly promoted to an on-air position.
Ng says there is nothing worse than making a mistake on-air. “One time I made a big mistake during a live broadcast,” she said. “I couldn’t say a word and I tried three times – it was very a horrifying experience! It knocked my confidence but then my colleagues supported me and I learned that anchoring is not just about appearance; the most important thing about our job is to ‘deliver’ the message to the audience. Now I care less about my performance and treat the camera like a good friend. It has really helped to improve my skills.”
Mo Lai Ching (BJ 2009) is a feature reporter for i-Cable News in Hong Kong. Prior to this, she worked as a reporter for HK Broadband TV.
“Every reporter has to work under high pressure,” said Mo. “You may need to do research, find interviewees, finish shooting, write the script, do the voice-over and supervise the video editing process – all within one day.”
“But the satisfaction of doing so is amazing. My most memorable experience was reporting the (recent) Manila hostage crisis. I flew on the government’s plane to Manila that night and arrived at the hospital in the morning. I worked for two whole days without rest, waiting for the latest information. Although exhausted, I could feel the passion of all journalists from Hong Kong during the crisis. They are great!”
Ching credits the JMSC with broadening her horizons. “Professors from Europe, the US and China taught me different styles of reporting,” she said. “I also participated in the JMSC exchange programme, going to the University of Queensland for a semester to learn about Australian culture. Internships provided by JMSC also prepared me for my career.”
So, what advice from our TV news reporting alumni?
“Watch more TV news, learn from the good anchors, don’t get too obsessed about their looks and listen to what they are actually saying!” said Jaymee Ng when asked what advice she’d give students hoping to work in TV presentation. “Think about the things you like or you don’t like about certain anchors. Then I think you will know what is good technique, what is not.”
Priscilla Ng gave this advice to students wanting presenting roles: “Keep yourself up to date with current affairs. Unlike print news, where journalists have more time to prepare and file their stories, in TV, we often have to complete our stories in less than an hour; so it’s important we’re aware of what’s happening around us. Also, it is important to be articulate when doing voice-overs. So, if you have some time, keep practicing. Pick up a newspaper and read it aloud. Make sure you deliver the news in a clear yet comfortable manner”
Zela Chin gave advice on appearing relaxed on screen. “Practice breathing from your diaphragm and speaking from your gut not your throat. Don’t be intimidated by the professionalism of the reporters you see on screen and think you have a long way to go. If you are professional and smart you can do it too. Just give it a try!”
Lorea Solabarrieta said, “If you really want it, you will get it. But you have to work at it. But if you want to anchor, you need to be: an expert in your chosen field; constantly reading and watching the best shows to learn from other anchors; training your voice, diction, presentation; as good with live shots as you are reading off a prompter; interested in the world and making your job your number one passion.”
Deirdre Wang Morris urged students to make the most of their time at the JMSC. “Go out and do as many stories as you can while you have the support of the JMSC,” she said. “Each piece-to-camera, each edit, each interview you do is a huge opportunity, a huge learning experience.”