By George W. Russell

The Journalism and Media Studies Centre welcomed 100 new students to its Master of Journalism and Bachelor of Journalism programmes for the 2017-2018 academic year.

An orientation for incoming MJs was held on 26 August at the Global Lounge. The event included an introduction by JMSC Director Keith Richburg, informative addresses from faculty about the courses, a lively question-and-answer session with alumni, a demonstration of the Moodle system and a tour of the production studio. Later, the students gathered with faculty and staff at a social evening held at Pier 7 in Central.

The 68 candidates hail from 13 countries and territories, including 36 students from China and 14 from Hong Kong. “Our Master’s students are internationally diverse,” says Richburg, “and we have a lot this year coming with previous journalism experience, who will add to the mix.”

The experienced MJ students include Jarrod Watt, a multimedia editor at the South China Morning Post. “I’m hoping to update and refresh my skills,” says Watt, from Ballarat, Australia. “I was a digital reporter back in 2002 but the business has changed since then.”

For others, journalism represents a career change. Hong Kong native Natalie Leung hopes to enter the profession after several years as a banker. “I’m looking for a different perspective on the world,” she says.

Watt is one of 34 MJ students who have work experience, mostly in the media. “In 2016-2017 we had only nine students with journalism experience—12% of the intake,” notes Associate Professor of Practice Kevin Sites. “This year we have 20, or 29%, more than double.”

For 2017-2018, Sites takes over as Director of the MJ Programme. His predecessor, Thomas Abraham, will be deeply involved this year. “Although I will no longer be teaching full time after the end of this year, I am really excited about helping Kevin Sites launch our new digital news feed in May,” he says. “We are going to create a state-of-the-art, 21st century newsroom which our MJs will run as their capstone project.”

The orientation programme for the 32 new undergraduates was held on 30 August at the Digital Media Lab in Eliot Hall, which explained the course outline, introduced students to their academic advisers, and included a fun “investigative journalism” exercise.

“We’ve got another outstanding incoming class this year—including our first student from Estonia,” says Jeffrey Timmermans, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Bachelor of Journalism programme. “It’s very encouraging to see so many talented young people who are interested in pursuing journalism in their university studies.”

Anna Zhao Hanyi, one of seven students from China, says she hopes to develop her video production skills. “It’s both artistic and journalistic,” says the resident of Hebei province, adding that she hopes her studies will eventually lead to a journalism job in Hong Kong, the United States or China.

Photography by Li Chen

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