Nicole Pabello comes from Veracruz, a state in Mexico which has been described as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America.
It’s a world away from Hong Kong, the city which Pabello now calls home, and where she is training to become a business and financial journalist through HKU’s Master of Journalism (MJ) programme.
Pabello decided to leave Mexico in 2014 and had been living in Hong Kong for two years already before starting the MJ programme. She first came to the city as an exchange student during her undergraduate studies and fell in love with it.
“Hong Kong is a great place to start if you want to move to Asia but you’re not ready for the next step; being a financial hub, with a high-speed, growing economy, and a free and open flow of information, it’s an easy first step to take,” said Pabello.
“Hong Kong is home. It’s such a kind city,” she said. “And there are so many things to do: whatever you love, and whatever you don’t yet know you love, you can find it here.”
After deciding to move to Hong Kong, and already harbouring a passion for the world of finance, Pabello found positions with a trading company and a printing company for the financial industry.
She also worked at the Mexican Consulate in a role promoting business and culture, and taught English and Spanish in Hong Kong and mainland China.
It was more recently that she started to think about pursuing a career in business and financial journalism specifically, and decided that Hong Kong was the perfect place to do it.
“Hong Kong offers a completely different panorama from where I come from—journalism in Mexico isn’t very well paid and can be very biased. It’s also very dangerous to be a journalist in Mexico,” she said.
No fewer than 19 journalists were killed in Pabello’s home state of Veracruz between 2011 and 2016, and Reporters without Borders has said that Mexico as a whole “continues to be the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for the media”.
Whilst she says that she wants to stay in Hong Kong after graduating, Pabello is also hopeful for the future of journalism in her home country.
“Journalists in Mexico are already being creative, with social media being a key forum for reporting with channels such as Facebook Live,” she said. “Good journalism will always prevail.”
Pabello said that the MJ programme―which offers a specialist certificate for students who complete a sequence of business and financial reporting courses—fits perfectly with her goal of becoming a business journalist.
“The first semester has been thrilling as well as demanding. Everything is new and there’s a lot of information given, such as on the new ways to produce journalism, and how to use the state of the art equipment, but you also get a sense of what is expected from us by the end of the programme,” she said.
“The process of getting there is challenging, but knowing what the end result will be is very exciting.”
Veracruz is described as the most dangerous state in Mexico for journalists in this Vice report and one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America in this piece from The Guardian. Mexico was ranked 149 out of 180 countries in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. A list of journalists killed in Veracruz since 2011 can be found here (Spanish article).
The JMSC is now welcoming applications to the MJ programme for the 2017–2018 academic year. Click here to find out more and apply (deadline: 31 January).