Nearly 1,000 students have earned diplomas in one of the JMSC’s four degree programmes.
Many are at the top rungs of their professions, in print, television, radio and online media. They work for local, regional and international media, mostly in Chinese and English, but also in other languages.
Except for two mainland students, our first students were from Hong Kong. Today, we have graduates working on every continent except Antarctica.
While many graduates occupy the front lines of journalism, many have also carved out careers in other fields, including business and finance, government policy and administration, corporate communications and marketing, and education and research.
Some work for non-governmental organisations, some work as consultants and freelancers, and others are entrepreneurs leading their own startup companies. Some have also returned to the JMSC to teach and pass on their experience and knowledge to the next generation of the JMSC family.
The Magic 20
In 2004, five years after the Master of Journalism programme began, the JMSC took a large step forward and launched a companion Bachelor of Journalism programme.
The BJ programme’s future success fell onto the shoulders of the first 20 students admitted. Did they have what it would take to uphold the JMSC’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence?
Yes, and then some. They forged careers that have taken them down many paths while forming strong personal connections.
Today, when they gather for weddings, dinners and JMSC reunions, they are known among themselves and at the JMSC as the Magic 20, which is how JMSC founder and director Ying Chan referred to them at their first day of freshman orientation.
The Magic 20 first BJ class graduated in 2007
From left, the Magic 20 and a few friends at wedding of Rebecca Ho: Marco Lui, Joyce Lai, Flora Lee, Diana Wong (with husband Kamuel Leung), Professor Ying Chan, Rebecca Ho (with husband Lam Yik Fei), Kitty Ho, Fion Li, Grace Tsoi (BJ, 2009), Catherine Chan, Robin Pang, Brandy Cheng.
Here are a few details about what members of the Magic 20 pictured here are up to:
- Catherine Chan, a former reporter and Hong Kong government information officer in Beijing, works at the JMSC as project manager for documentarian Ruby Yang.
- Brandy Cheng, a Court Liaison Officer who assists asylum seekers in Hong Kong, also advocates on behalf of the needy and the AllinHK electoral alliance.
- Kitty Ho, after completing a graduate programme in the UK, works at HK01, a digital media company, and writes news features and commentaries on culture and Hong Kong.
- Rebecca Ho is Executive Officer of the General Education Unit at The University of Hong Kong.
- Joyce Lai is a public relations executive and consultant.
- Flora Lee worked in Corporate Social Responsibility branch of a real estate company and for Oxfam Hong Kong and Christian Action.
- Fion Li is the first (and youngest) Hong Konger to serve as bureau chief of Bloomberg News in Hong Kong.
- Marco Lui works at Brightwire, leading a team of reporters covering financial news in Greater China, Korea and Japan. He competes internationally in the ultra-marathon.
- Robin Pang is a Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking at HSBC.
- Diana Wong is an information officer for the Hong Kong government.
Students and alumni have distinguished themselves and made the JMSC proud with their awards and achievements across the spectrum of journalism and media fields.
Annually, their work is honoured at the Society of Professional Journalists (SOPA) awards ceremony.
They have also fared well in Human Rights Press Awards competition in Hong Kong. In 2015, for example, JMSC students won five of the eight student Human Rights Press Awards for their coverage of the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong.
In 2012, BJ graduate Isak Ladegaard won The International Herald Tribune’s ‘Word (World) of Yours’ Writing Competition in the university category. Third-year BJ student Joyce Xu won the same competition (renamed with The International New York Times as the organiser) in 2013.
In 2010, The Film and Television Institute of India picked documentary films made by JMSC students for its International Students’ Film Festival, and in August 2011, MJ documentary The Last Villagers was selected to be shown at the Hangzhou Asian Film Festival.
In 2013, JMSC alumni Alex Hofford (MJ, 2012) and Daniel Goodman (MJ, 2011) won awards from the National Press Photographers Association and Reenita Malhotra Hora (MJ, 2012) won the Gold Radio Trophy in the current affairs category at the New York Festivals’ International Radio Program Awards.
In 2014, undergraduate students Stella Ko and Sol Han took second prize in Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow competition, in which students from across Hong Kong shared ideas on how to improve the city’s environment using technology.
Ko and Han were required to create a video showing how their idea would lead to ‘a greener, smarter Hong Kong’. They proposed a product called ‘smart glass’; it conserved energy by gaging temperature differences between indoor and outdoor environments and then changing colour to warn if too much energy is being used.
The pair, who were advised by faculty member Masato Kajimoto, made it through several stages of the competition, ultimately winning HK$80,000 and Samsung products for themselves and HK$100,000 in Samsung products for the JMSC.
Research and projects
The JMSC has developed its research focus in the areas of media law and ethics, risk and public health communication, digital media and media transformation, open government information, and media pluralism in transitional societies.
It has also developed teaching and training programmes in data journalism and digital media entrepreneurship. With the support of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), the centre has also developed expertise in research into China’s media.
China Media Project
The JMSC established the groundbreaking China Media Project (CMP) in late 2003. The project is directed by Qian Gang, a veteran Chinese journalist and author of several books on journalism, and Ying Chan, JMSC founder and director. Research Associate David Bandurski is the project’s editor and has become a well-known and frequent commentator on Chinese media and politics.
As part of the CMP, Qian Gang also started a fellowship programme for Chinese journalists, hosting dozens over the years, for writing and teaching projects. Participants spend up to three months at the JMSC as Visiting Fellows (a list of the Fellows can be found here).
Working directly with editors, writers and producers from various media in China, the project documents and analyses the process of media reform in China and the formal and informal factors that influence it.
Comparative studies help define areas for further research on the basis of media reform experiences in transitional societies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The CMP also organises regular seminars and talks by leading Chinese journalists and media experts at HKU.
In 2010, the CMP began contributing guest opinion articles to the SCMP and in December CMP’s ‘China Media Map’ was launched, a geoweb application mapping all of the news organisations in China’s GAPP database.
That same year, the CMP became the first to break the news in English of an open letter sent by former Communist Party leaders to the National People’s Congress, calling for freedom of speech and press freedom.
After posting a translation of the letter online, the CMP website received its largest ever number of hits, with news organisations around the world, including the BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Globe and Mail, linking to it.
By January 2016, CMP followers on Twitter surpassed 50,000, ranking the project’s feed on the social media platform in the top 20 of all Hong Kong-based accounts.
Weiboscope is a Chinese social media data collection and visualisation project. One project objective is to make censored Sina Weibo posts of a selected group of Chinese microbloggers publicly accessible.
The project, led by faculty member Fu King-wa, developed a sampling mechanism to collect Weibo data since January 2011 from more than 350,000 Chinese microbloggers who have more than 1,000 followers.
Using software developed in-house, Weiboscope automatically tracked when a post was made and when it was deleted by censors.
By October 2013, the project had collected 226 million messages from more than 14 million users. Of these, roughly 10 million messages had been deleted by censors.
Data collected by the project has been used in several research projects. In 2012, Dr Fu completed research into the nature of online public opinion in Hong Kong, funded by the government’s Central Policy Unit.
He was also awarded two new grants in 2014 to continue his work investigating the behaviour of social media users in China and Hong Kong and assessing the extent of Chinese government censorship. The grants were awarded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and the Hong Kong Public Policy Research Fund.
In June 2013, ‘WeiboTrends’, consisting of a web application detailing posts that have been deleted from Sina Weibo, and a Twitter feed with English translations of the posts called ‘WeiboTrendsPro’, was created by three JMSC graduate students.
It continued in 2016 with another pilot project to translate deleted Weibo posts around the 4 June Tiananmen anniversary.
The Media Law Project
Established in 2003, the Media Law Project (MLP) is a unique research and training programme for journalists, students, academics, media lawyers and others in the communications industry in Hong Kong, mainland China and the region. Research at the project includes such areas as access to information, media ownership, press freedom, media law education and privacy.
The MLP has also created an international advisory board and partnerships with legal practitioners, universities, law faculties and scholars.
Doreen Weisenhaus is the director of the project and author of Hong Kong Media Law: A Guide for Journalists and Media Professionals (HKU Press 2007), the first book of its kind in Hong Kong, that was followed by an expanded Second Edition in 2014.
Since joining the JMSC in 2000, Weisenhaus has also given lectures on freedom of expression for law students in the LLM Human Rights programme and taught Media Law, Regulation and Policy in Asia for the Asia-American Institute in Transnational Law, co-hosted by the HKU Faculty of Law and Duke University School of Law.
In May 2007 the JMSC co-hosted the Southeast Asia Media Defence Litigation Conference at HKU, bringing together lawyers and advocates from throughout southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Following the conference, the South East Asia Media Legal Defense Network was established, the first regional network of lawyers dedicated to the defense of a free media in southeast Asia and the training of legal professionals for that purpose.
In October 2013, the JMSC co-organised the international conference ‘Media Law and Policy in the Internet Age’ at HKU with the university’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law, and Media Defense-South East Asia (formerly known as South East Asia Media Legal Defence Initiative).
The conference brought together 70 experts from 15 jurisdictions, including three British lords and many top lawyers and academics at the forefront of the debate over the issues—reform of media law, defamation, privacy, free speech and national security—that the digital age has spawned.
In 2013, a JMSC paper urging increased legal protection for creators of parodies and similar literary or artistic expression repeatedly cited by the Hong Kong government in its report on a recently concluded public consultation on copyright law reform.
In 2016, Along with the Law and Technology Centre at HKU’s Faculty of Law, the JMSC was a co-host of seminar ‘Who’s Got Your Back? Securing Trust and Agency in a World of Backdoors & Gatekeepers’.
The seminar was the first event organised by the Digital Asia Hub—an independent, non-profit internet and society think tank based at the JMSC.
Health Risk Communication programme
Since its launch in 2005, the mission of the Health Risk Communication programme, led by faculty member and director Thomas Abraham, has become the premier centre for research and training in risk communication and health journalism in Asia.
It has conducted studies funded by the European Commission on risk communication policies in Asia, and the World Health Organization (WHO), on communication case studies and outbreak communication planning guidelines.
The training of health communicators and journalists is another major area of work. In collaboration with the East-West Center in Hawaii, the programme conducted travelling workshops on infectious diseases for journalists from the Asia Pacific and the United States in 2006 and 2007.
Workshops for journalists on avian influenza were conducted for the World Health Organization in the Asia Pacific and Africa in 2007.
Crisis communication and disaster risk reduction communication are other focus areas. Following the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, studies were conducted on the role of the media during disasters such as earthquakes, focussing on vulnerable groups such as the disabled.
In December 2009, the report ‘Portrayals of the Family in the Hong Kong Media’ was published. The year-long, Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust funded research project looked into how newspapers and other local media report family issues.
It was part of a wider project run by HKU’s School of Public Health to develop successful interventions to promote societal harmony through families.
In July 2010, a two-day JMSC conference titled ‘One Year into the Pandemic: Perspectives on Risk and Crisis Communication’, explored the public communication challenges that arose during H1N1 (swine flu) coverage.
Speakers included international and local policy makers, journalists, doctors, and academics from a variety of disciplines ranging from the humanities to social science. The Area of Excellence in Influenza funded by the University Grants Commission and the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine at HKU co-sponsored the event.
In February 2011, the JMSC was awarded more than HK$2 million by the University Development Fund to create the Research and Training Centre in Health and Emergency Risk Communication, the first such centre in Asia.
This was followed in 2014 with the award of a one-year research grant by the WHO to investigate whether cultural differences in Asia have any impact on the effectiveness of communication with the public during infectious disease outbreaks.
Creative Commons Hong Kong (CCHK)
In 2008, the Hong Kong chapter of Creative Commons (HKCC) was launched as a joint project of the JMSC and the Faculty of Law. Creative commons is an international system of intellectual property rights management through which creators who choose to do so can change their copyright terms from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’.
The JMSC had assumed the role of host organisation for Creative Commons Hong Kong in August 2007.
Lawrence Lessig, former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, came to the JMSC for the launch of CCHK, along with Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.
Former faculty member Rebecca MacKinnon was instrumental in the launch of CCHK. The project’s public leads for the project are Ying Chan and Pindar Wong, former Vice Chairman of ICANN. Legal leads are Associate Professors Dr Yahong Li and Ms Alice Lee of HKU’s Faculty of Law.
By promoting CC through education, advocacy, technical support, and community participation, the project aims to educate Hong Kong citizens about copyright law more broadly. It also has enabled the JMSC to forge an alliance with the technical and creative industries.
Hong Kong Transparency Report
The Hong Kong Transparency Report was launched with support from Google in August 2013 to track the Hong Kong government’s requests for internet user data and content removal.
The project promotes government accountability and the protection of personal privacy online by documenting and monitoring the extent to which the government requests user data from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or demands the removal of content from ISPs.
The Hong Kong Transparency Report Team consists of Ying Chan (project lead), Benjamin Zhou (project manager), Darcy Christ (researcher, writer and webmaster) and Doreen Weisenhaus (legal editor and advisor).
The project produced reports in 2014 and 2016, revealing that between 2011 and 2015, the Hong Kong government sent an average of 5,028 requests each year to internet/online service providers of which 92% were user-data requests and 8% were content-removal requests.
Crime prevention and detection (98%) was the major reason for content-removal requests, with the Police Force (87%), Customs and Excise Department (11%) and Office of the Communications Authority (1%) the three major requesters.
In 2016, HKTR co-organised a panel discussion at RightsCon Silicon Valley 2016 titled ‘Reporting and beyond: why company and government transparency is essential for human rights online’ with Stockholm University (Sweden) and Global Partners Digital, an advocacy group from the United Kingdom promoting human rights on the internet.
Speakers included Benjamin Zhou from HKTR representatives of the transparency reporting initiatives in Taiwan and Korea.
Hong Kong Documentary Initiative (HKDI)
The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative was launched in 2015 to harness local and international expertise in order to build a dynamic documentary filmmaking scene in Hong Kong.
Based at the JMSC, HKDI is led by Ruby Yang, Oscar Award-winning Chinese American filmmaker and Honorary Professor at the JMSC, with advisors Ying Chan and Visiting Associate Professor Nancy Tong.
The project is a first for Hong Kong and Asia in terms of having an Oscar-level director as its leader. The Lee Hysan Foundation is the strategic partner and sponsor of the initiative, with CNEX and The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society also acting as partners.
HKDI provides seed grants and expert instruction for emerging documentary filmmakers in Hong Kong. It also offers master classes, public lectures, and screenings.
In 2016, it co-organised 'Dialogue with Filmmakers' with the Hong Kong International Film Festival, bringing nine international directors and producers to HKU to join students and members of the public for lectures and screenings of the filmmakers’ work between 23 March and 1 April.
The HKDI x CNEX Docu Screening Tour was also organised in April 2016, showcasing six international films from China, Korea, Iran and the US.
Other projects at the JMSC have emerged from the coursework of students.
In 2011, an experimental learning platform, The Westside Stories, was set up by faculty member Masato Kajimoto for undergraduate students to practise reporting stories from the Central and Western District of Hong Kong, the home of more than 250,000 Hong Kongers and the neighbourhood where HKU is located.
The Hong Kong Stories website has also been used by undergraduate students to post their work; in 2012, a version of the platform was used by secondary school students in Hong Kong who took part in an Online Journalism Workshop offered by the JMSC.
In 2015 and 2016, MJ students published their stories on the Dispatches website. Primarily the articles were written in a core course, 'News Reporting and Writing', and edited by instructors Keith Richburg, Jo Bunker and Brian Zittel.
MJ students also published articles on a Reporting Health and Medicine website in 2016, and used social media platform Twitter to promote and link to their reporting.
In March 2013, the Domestic Worker Project emerged from the 'Advanced Online Journalism' class. The project was the first of its kind in Hong Kong and aimed to provide ‘ongoing coverage of the personal, social, legal and financial issues affecting foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong’.
Students have also experimented with launching print publications. In April 2011, a team of BJ students found funding for and published an English-language student magazine for HKU called The Echo.
It featured articles about student life, Hong Kong life and also sections on food, nightlife, the arts, theatre, film and fashion. JMSC students also launched online newspaper, The Lion Post, for the HKU community in October 2015.
‘Twenty-First Century Plague: The Story of SARS’, by Thomas Abraham, published 2004
‘Hong Kong Media Law: A Guide for Journalists and Media Professionals’, by Doreen Weisenhaus, published 2007
CMP's ‘Political Reform and China’s Media’, by Qian Gang, published 2008
CMP’s ‘Investigative Journalism in China’, ed. David Bandurski and Martin Hala, published 2010
‘You Can Write Better English’, by Barry Kalb, the first book to be published by the JMSC in 2010
CMP’s ‘A Record of Change in China’s Media’, ed. Ying Chan and Qian Gang, and ‘Political Reform and China’s Media’, by Qian Gang, published 2008
Second edition of ‘Hong Kong Media Law: A Guide for Journalists and Media Professionals’, by Doreen Weisenhaus, published 2014
CMP’s ‘China’s Bold Bloggers’, by Zhai Minglei, ed. Ying Chan and Qian Gang, published 2009
Global Stories ‒ Literary Journalism: The Best of Class’, ed. Gene Mustain, published 2011