Reporting and photos by Corinne Vigniel

In covering the story of the missing Hong Kong booksellers—one of the biggest local stories of the year—BBC correspondent Juliana Liu described weeks of chasing reliable sources and one all-night fact-checking marathon that produced one of the most popular stories of 2016 on the BBC website.


Liu and JMSC students

Liu, the BBC’s Hong Kong Correspondent, spoke to Master of Journalism (MJ) students on 24 November about how the BBC Hong Kong team covered the dramatic case of the missing booksellers.

A huge amount of work went on behind the scenes tracking down the co-author of one of the provocative books on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s private life, she said. Liu was also able to convince the wife of one of the abducted booksellers to talk.

It was a difficult story to cover, Liu said, involving weeks of trying to find sources who could be trusted, vetting, checking for possible pranks, and trying to tell when people were possibly lying.

After an all-night marathon, and final checks with BBC lawyers and top news editors, the BBC had the scoop.

‘It can be scary when no one else has the story,’ Liu said.

Liu, who started with Reuters and has been with the BBC for ten years, also offered some tips to MJ students currently completing the TV News Production course:

1) Arrive early

Get there early to set up the camera, especially in a place like Hong Kong with limited space, she said. Arrive 10 minutes early for interviews, collect yourself.

2) Be nice

It’s a small industry—everyone knows everyone. Avoid arguments with colleagues—he or she could become your boss. At the same time, she said, be confident, express your opinion.

3) Give something of yourself

A personal insight into your own life may give a totally different dimension to a story. One of Liu’s most popular stories was on how China’s one-child policy robbed her of several siblings.

The application period to join the Master of Journalism programme for the 2017‒18 academic year is now open. To learn more, click here.

5 December 2016

BBC correspondent speaks to students about how the BBC covered the missing booksellers story

Reporting and photos by Corinne Vigniel In covering the story of the missing Hong Kong booksellers—one of the biggest local stories of the year—BBC correspondent Juliana Liu described weeks of chasing reliable sources and one […]
28 November 2016

Killer course: Students act like soldiers to answer the question, ‘Why do we kill in war?’

They wore body armour fashioned from cardboard and helmets that looked more like highway cones. Some carried rifles laser cut from plywood stencils. No one was going to mistake Lecture Hall 4 in HKU’s Chong […]
26 April 2016

Investigating financial scandals requires patience, says 2016 Pulitzer Prize nominee

Investigating financial scandals isn’t always sexy and requires the patience to sift through mounds of financial disclosure documents, The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Wright has told JMSC students. Wright, Asia Economics Editor for the Journal, […]
30 March 2016

Keith Richburg appointed as new director of the JMSC

Keith B. Richburg, whose journalism career has spanned 40 years and four continents and who has lectured at some of the world’s most prestigious universities, has been named the new director of The University of […]
23 March 2016

James Chan

BJ 2013, Researcher, Politics and Public Administration department, The University of Hong Kong
'"Think global"—the best phrase to summarise my three-year experience on the Bachelor of Journalism programme at the JMSC. Immersed in an environment with international cohorts and faculty members, offered the opportunity to take part in world-class exchange programmes, connected to a wide-range of local and international internships, I learned the essence of journalism with a wide exposure to the globalised world.'
23 March 2016

Billy Wong

BJ 2015, Reporter, TVB Pearl
'I believe journalism, ultimately, is about human connections: how we all connect with each other as human beings playing different roles in a globalised society. I am grateful that the JMSC taught me how to find the human elements in everyday happenings and how to highlight emotions while covering social issues in an unbiased manner.'
1 February 2016

Gong Hei Fat Choi

Best wishes for a prosperous Year of the Monkey from everyone at the JMSC.
31 March 2015

Fighting for the Future of International News

Sennott will share why he believes the ad-supported model is a failure and how he hopes to make GlobalPost/GroundTruth a unique 'hybrid' with a for-profit publishing platform and a non-profit, mission driven arm that produces high-end social justice journalism.