Keith B. Richburg, Director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre

Message from the Director

I can’t think of a more exciting time to be a journalist, or to be in Asia. The chance to combine those two—helping train the next generation of journalists here in the region’s most vibrant hub—is what led me to take the position as Director of The University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

I should say it’s what brought me back here, since this is my second stint in Hong Kong. This was my home for nearly five years in the 1990s, before, during and after the territory’s transition from British colony to an integral part of China. A lot has changed since I last lived here, particularly on the skyline where new buildings have sprouted, and around the harbour, which seems to have shrunk. But some things are the same, as Hong Kong remains China’s wealthiest, freest, and most international city.

It might seem odd to describe this period in journalism as exciting, given all the turmoil in the industry. The old business model has been disrupted, and no one has yet figured out what will replace it. Traditional, so-called ‘legacy’ media outfits are struggling financially. Newspapers are shutting, and longtime journalists are losing their jobs.

But in crisis there can also be opportunity, as the old saying goes. That’s true today in journalism, and nowhere is that more true than in Asia. Young journalists today have an unprecedented chance to create their own future in the business, with the internet creating countless new outlets for storytelling—or allowing those who are entrepreneurial enough to create their own platforms. Both old-line media and online startups are hiring reporters with the requisite digital skills. Journalism consortiums are producing some groundbreaking and prize-winning investigative work.

The old model I followed—a summer internship while still in college, followed by the next three decades working for The Washington Post in a variety of foreign and domestic bureaus—may not be the career trajectory of those entering the profession today. But today’s young journalists will write their own narrative, and it will be no less exciting or rewarding than mine.

Our students today are leaving our programmes equipped with all the multimedia skills they need to compete and succeed in this new media landscape. They learn to write breaking news, shoot and edit video, set up their own websites and disseminate their stories digitally on social media platforms. Students can also specialise in data visualisation, photography or documentary filmmaking, while immersing themselves in ‘content’ courses like finance and business, global affairs and covering China.

China’s rise is shaking up the established international order. The ten countries of Southeast Asia are moving into a common economic market encompassing 600 million people and a collective GDP of more than US$2.6 trillion. Tensions persist on the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea. In parts of the region, social media is creating new pressures for political change. Asia is in constant motion.

Here at HKU Journalism, we have the perfect vantage point for witnessing these sweeping changes. If you want to be a journalist, or you are already working in the business and want to upgrade your skills—and if you agree that Asia is the place to be—we invite you to check out our website. Read about our history and special mission. See where our students regularly go for internships, from Cambodia to Nepal and Myanmar; to countries in Europe, North and South America. Hear from some of our successful family of alumni, who are now working for outlets like Bloomberg, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN. And consider joining us in Asia’s most exciting city.

We’ll equip you with the tools you need to compete in this new media ecosystem. And we guarantee it will be an exciting ride.

Keith B. Richburg
Director, Journalism and Media Studies Centre