By George W. Russell
Applications for admission to the 2018-2019 Master of Journalism (MJ) course are now being accepted, and MJ Programme Director Kevin Sites and his team have a sharp vision of the type of student who should be selected.
“Our focus is to attract early-career and mid-career journalists, and less so undergraduate non-journalists,” says Sites, who is also Associate Professor of Practice at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC). “However, we’re also open to talented newcomers who are dedicated to a career as a journalist.”
The recruitment mission will support three pillars that embody the MJ programme principles in general: to produce top-flight journalists who can cover the world; to enhance a noble profession that shines a light on the truth in dark times and dark places; and to respond to a global political climate where journalists are needed more than ever.
“In a time when world leaders say what is true is false and what is false is true, we need practitioners who are fully dedicated to seeking and reporting the actual truth,” Sites says.
The Master of Journalism programme is a unique opportunity to acquire the skills of a foreign correspondent in Hong Kong, a city that has been home base for some of the most distinguished foreign correspondents in modern history. “Hong Kong is Asia’s global city and this is the place to learn how to cover the world, whether it’s covering China or Southeast Asia, or international finance,” says Sites.
The campaign to attract admissions will see the JMSC showcase its students’ glittering portfolio of award-winning published work, such as The Umbrella Movement, a documentary about the 2014 Occupy Central protests shown worldwide on MSNBC.
The 2018-2019 academic year will see some major curriculum changes, including two full semesters of core skills: news writing, video production, and data and digital journalism. “We want them to be proficient at multimedia platforms,” says Sites. “We live in a three-dimensional world and their skills need to reflect that reality.”
New teaching devices will also be deployed, including a custom set of how-to videos on the use of technology and equipment produced by Assistant Lecturer AJ Libunao and Technical Officer Roy Ching. “The topics depend on what we see the students are struggling with at the time,” says Libunao.
The idea is to ensure that professors and lecturers focus on teaching journalism, not pressing buttons. “They should be talking about how to produce stories,” says Libunao.
Students have welcomed the videos. “They were brief, concise, and straight to the point, so I could easily follow them,” says Hailey Jo (MJ 2018). “I also liked that we didn’t have to spend a lot of time in class to learn basic technical things.”
The coming year will see fewer electives but a greater accent on major specializations within journalism, such as sports reporting, coverage of arts, culture and entertainment, and writing about environmental and sustainability issues. Special skills will also be taught, such as motion graphics.
Applications for the 2018-2019 entry open on 1 November 2017. The MJ programme attracts talented students from all over the world, and is taught by a faculty of experienced journalists and media scholars who have had decades of experience, including adjuncts who are practicing journalists in major international news organizations.
The JMSC faculty’s networks with leading international media organizations have helped build one of the most dynamic journalism internship programmes in the world, while graduates have been hired by the world’s leading media organizations including the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.