Eldes Tran, Vanessa Ko, Stephanie Kwan and Nathan Griffiths contributed work to the site which maps the connections between the most powerful and influential people and organisations in Hong Kong. WhoRunsHK includes more than 4,000 of Hong Kong’s leaders in business, government, politics and beyond, as well as almost 2,000 organisations. Together, they make an interwoven network of around 10,000 connections.
The idea for WhoRunsHK was conceived by the SCMP‘s Editor-in-Chief, Reginald Chua, and developed by a team of reporters made up of the JMSC students, programmers and web developers.
“WhoRunsHK represents a new way of presenting information collected by journalists – we throw away a lot of what’s captured in our notebooks – and finding ways of retaining that information, presenting it to the public, and ultimately extending its lifespan. It is an important element in rethinking the practice of journalism and the “product” that we produce,” said Chua.
“People are coming to news and information in different ways these days; they still want great stories and narratives, deep analysis, and succinct updates,” he continued. “But they also want to explore and understand information at their own pace and in their own way, and this speaks to that need – while giving us a tool to do even better reporting.”
The four students had to sift through a multitude of corporate and government websites, annual reports, press releases and other reputable sources to find the information the site needed.
“This project was really exciting because it’s different in that it’s not just writing stories,” said MJ Stephanie Kwan. “It was investigative journalism involving data. I’ve never heard of anything else like it. I wanted to be a part of it because it was journalism but also something new.”
Irene Jay Liu is WhoRunsHK’s project leader and editor. “The JMSC students were indispensable to WhoRunsHK – we could not have pulled it off, in such a short amount of time, without their hard work,” she said.
“They helped our staff here at the South China Morning Post to research and report on the people and organisations in our database, using public records, newspaper archives and other resources. Identifying and connecting 2,000 people and 4,000 organisations is no small task – and their diligence and thoroughness were impressive. Two students, Eldes Tran and Vanessa Ko, worked with a staff reporter to report and write the first two stories that appeared in print. Other students are currently working on stories that we hope will make it into print next year.”
Liu will teach a course on Computer-Assisted Reporting at the JMSC next semester. The course is targeted to postgrads, but it’s expected that a few slots will be available for exceptional undergraduate students.
For a short video of how to use WhoRunsHK, click here.