Suzanne van der Erf: “I really enjoyed the ABC News on Campus project. I’ve been to Cambodia to cover a short travel piece on a New York lady that has set up an American funded NGO to support the local community. It has been an excellent learning experience; you are actually doing it instead of learning about how to do it.
“And of course you run in all sorts of unforeseen problems throughout the process from shooting to editing to getting it approved by ABC. That’s when you learn. I would highly recommend the programme and feel privileged to have been part of the ABC team 2009-10.”
Phillippa Stewart: “The ABC project has been fantastic. It gave us the chance to learn how to pitch stories to a network, and to think critically about what elements go into video packages suitable for broadcast. The feedback that the On Campus team gave us was also invaluable. The project really put into practice what we had learnt in our lectures at the JMSC. During my time with the ABC project I produced and presented two videos- one on the Hong Kong rugby sevens (helped by Kirti Nandwani) and one on kitesurfing in the Philippines (helped by Deirdre Wang Morris). The first video was shown on ESPN and the second on ABC’s Daily Download show.”
“Our trip to New York was incredible. Touring ABC and learning about the industry has really helped me focus in on how I should be positioning myself as a freelance multimedia journalist.”
“Finally, working with a diverse, and interesting, group of students was a real pleasure and a lot of fun.”
Liyi Chen: “The ABC News on Campus project was an exciting experience because it brought in an element of real- real stories, for real air time. Dealing with the real industry was markedly different from school, not surprisingly, as we now had to work our way about actual viewers with a context that is unlike our own, as well as watch out for actual pitfalls like legal issues. Having to pass each story through the legal and standards department left quite an impression on me, no doubt.
“And because this was much more serious business than in school, the process got a little tiring too. For my story at least. I can’t say the final version of the story I did with Oscar was my favourite (nor Oscar’s), but I would think, for both of us, it was really -PHEW- when ABC accepted the piece without further changes.
“A great immersion into what one might call the real world of this industry therefore!”
Deidre Wang Morris: “Nothing in the classroom could have prepared me for the “real world” of journalism than my first trip for ABC on Campus to the Philippines. To fixing interviews with people who were quoted in the NYTimes, to filming rowdy cockfights to coaxing locals to sing Frank Sinatra tunes… it didn’t just prepare me on how to be a reporter, it threw me in the deep end. And in my opinion, there’s no better way to learn. Rob McBride took a passion in the stories as though they were his own. At the same time, he would stand back at critical moments and leave it up to Tem and I to navigate the story.
“In the end, Tem and I were so inspired that we continued to shoot stories throughout the year for real news organizations. It was completely different to produce stories for broadcast in the US. We weren’t just responsible for a grade… we were responsible for how we presented our first stories to the journalism community. These were real package we would use later to get jobs. Importantly, the ABC logo was on our work. It was good enough for one of the most established networks in the world – it gave us the confidence and authority a class package couldn’t.
New York was incredibly valuable as a trip to end the program on. It reaffirmed my thoughts that doing a Masters of Journalism in Hong Kong gave me exactly the opportunities I was looking for. I feel that I was able to accept a job with CCTV with full knowledge of other options globally – and that I made the best decision. I also learned that Bloomberg is a network I aspire to in the future. I couldn’t have gained that knowledge in the classroom. I had to go to NY, ask tough questions of the executives, face some harsh realities (in America, you must start at the bottom), and see for myself what the state of news is in North America versus Asia.
“I wasn’t originally selected to be part of the ABC program. But I could see the value in it right away. In the end, it was good for my personal development that I wasn’t selected. That was another major difference between being in the classroom and being part of the ABC Project. It was like a real job I had to interview for with other people that wanted it just as much. I learned first hand that a big part of journalism is drive and determination. I pitched stories anyways and to my surprise, they were accepted. I think I ended up doing more packages than anyone else, including one on my own in Shanghai, which later led to a freelance job where I was part of Secretary Hilary Clinton’s traveling press.”
Carmen Ng: “The ABC News project was extremely rewarding. The highlight for me was the JMSC/ABC expedition to Vietnam at the end of April 2010. Young reporters like us had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists like Peter Arnett, and learn about how they helped write the first drafts of history that have shed light on the lives and deaths during one of last century’s most significant wars.
“It was beyond my imagination to be able to exchange in-depth dialogues with more than two dozens of Vietnam War journalists in Ho Chi Minh City, travel with them at the Cu Chi tunnel, and listen to their insights on topics ranging from how war reporting has transformed in the Internet age to how young journalists should prepare themselves for today’s challenges. What impressed me the most was their evident passion in telling even the most challenging stories, which I’m sure, would be one of the many invaluable lessons we will never forget. An experience like this you cannot get in an HKU classroom.”
Zela Chin: “I had many stimulating experiences through the ABC News on Campus project where I was bureau chief for our Hong Kong team with a responsibility of delivering ready to air content for U.S. network ABC. Not only was this an opportunity to expand on the skills I had gained working for CNN, but in my role as bureau chief I gained valuable experience coordinating the activities of the team of journalists on the ground, liaising with headquarters overseas, and being ultimately responsible for the delivery of an airable product. It was a perfect combination of getting additional experience as a field reporter in Asia, and getting better understanding of what networks in the US expect from journalists working in overseas bureaus.
“This combination of dealing with journalistic requirements in two different cultures was an unexpected bonus to the other great experiences I had at the JMSC! And through the two reporting trips to Vietnam and Cambodia I did on behalf of ABC News, I expanded my horizons on how to present local Asia stories to a US audience. My end-of-year visit to ABC global headquarters in New York was icing on the cake and capped off an invaluable reporting and management experience. The fact that I got to meet all the journalists I had been dealing with remotely as bureau chief in person brought home the reality of what I had been doing all year long, and made me realize the importance of all my hard work and the contributions I made to the ABC network.”
Lily Li: “JMSC is a wonderful place to learn the craft of journalism, and the “ABC News on Campus” project provided me the first opportunity to try out what I’ve learned in the real world scenario. For those who favor video production, the project is no doubt one of the best exercise platforms you get at JMSC.
“The midterm and final projects we did for the course were great, but they could never compare with the kind of experience I gained from producing the real deal. The standard of the latter is a lot higher. I remember there were lots of emails sent back and forth between us in Hong Kong and the editors in New York, just to discuss the video script. Many questions were asked and facts were checked. If you make mistakes in your school assignment, you get a lower grade. But if your piece is to broadcast via a public media like ABC, a lousy job will harm the reputation of the entire TV station. The responsibility I felt when taking part in the project made me strive harder for accuracy and quality. For example, when I was producing the “Snowy Bird’s Nest” video story for ABC in Beijing last winter, I made a small factual mistake in my “stand up”. Although it was a good on camera presentation and I could fix the problem by replacing a bit of the voice track, I decided to cut it out later during the editing because I wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of the entire piece. When producing videos for school assignments, I could always go back and “fix the shot” by doing it again, simply because the locations were all in Hong Kong and it was possible for a “redo”. Yet when my teammates and I were producing videos for ABC News in places outside of Hong Kong, we only had one shot to get it right in most cases. When the “second chance” is not viable, you can only do better preparation and set higher requirements for yourself. As a result, better exercises.
“The “ABC News on Campus” project also gave me a real sense of teamwork spirit. Many JMSC school assignments are required to be finished in teams. Yet the unclear division of work responsibility and different opinions were usually submerged in the chitchats, as long as the job is done in the end. However I felt a different attitude when working with the ABC project teammates. We were ABC News roving reporters because we wanted to not because we had to. Lorea, Zela and Pip had some active and serious discussions with me respectively when we teamed up for different stories. We had clearer division of responsibilities and worked hard to reach an agreement on how to produce the story, which enabled better performances for everyone.
“Moreover, the “ABC News on Campus” project gave me the opportunity to travel to villages outside Ho Chi Minh City, listen to stories of journalists who covered the Vietnam War, tour Bloomberg’s headquarter in New York and take part in ABC’s summer concert in Central Park. The stories and trips I did for the project will be one of the most unforgettable memories of my year at HKU.”