The JMSC welcomes this year’s intake of Master of Journalism students.
New students attended a day-long orientation session in HKU’s Council Chambers. Professor Ying Chan, Director of the JMSC, welcomed all newcomers and told them they were in for a full and exciting year.
“The great advantage of Hong Kong is that the biggest story in the world now is the rise of China,” said Chan. “And, China is just across the river.”
Doreen Weisenhaus, Associate Professor and Director of the Media Law Project, also welcomed the 66 new students — the largest and most international intake yet to the JMSC Masters programme. This year’s students come from more than 15 countries.
Weisenhaus introduced the students to key members of JMSC staff who then talked about the programme and the subjects they teach.
Gene Mustain, Director of the Reporting & Writing Programme, encouraged students to keep abreast of the daily news and said they should always have three stories up their sleeves ready for discussion about Hong Kong, Asia and the rest of the world.
Rob McBride, Honorary Lecturer and a working video journalist, described his Video News Production course: “We teach you how to go out and take pictures and then tell stories with those pictures.”
McBride, who had been up until 3 am the previous night reporting for Al Jazeera on the hostage crisis in Manila, is living proof that Hong Kong is a vibrant place from which to report news stories.
“Hong Kong is an interesting, newsy place,” he said. “It is finding its place in the world again so it’s a really good place to be covering news right now.”
JMSC Tutor Kevin Lau, who along with Diane Stormont, the Head of the JMSC’s Digital Programme, teaches Online Journalism, reminded the students that however well designed their websites are, they will always be judged first and foremost on journalistic content.
Jeff Timmermans, who teaches Business and Financial Journalism courses, emphasised the human interest value of financial news. “Business journalism isn’t just about numbers and money — it’s about people,” he said. “Business journalism is important, not least because business and financial events affect us all.”
Thomas Abraham, Director of the Public Health Media Project, teaches courses on Reporting Health and Medicine and also International News. He told the students to be on the look-out for the stories that often go untold but that are crucial for the future of the world, such as the global shortage of clean water and problems facing refugees.
“Journalism is about making a difference, about making things better,” he said. “It’s about writing about those important things in a way that is interesting and vivid and that people want to read.”
Professor Chan ended the morning session by talking about the courses students could pick during their Masters year to study China and its media in more depth. As she said before, Hong Kong is the perfect place to do this as it’s on China’s doorstep but, unlike the mainland, has a free press and open access to information.
In the afternoon, Doreen Weisenhaus briefed students on career planning and internships. Five recent MJ graduates, who have all secured interesting jobs in the media (at the South China Morning Post, CCTV, TVB, CNN, and the Asian Wall Street Journal), discussed their time at the JMSC and where it has led them.
In a year’s time some of the students listening to this orientation will undoubtedly be back telling next year’s students about the jobs they have secured thanks to the skills gained over the next 12 months.