Journalist Peter Hessler’s Account of Factory Life in China
11 March 2011
JMSC Research Seminar: Computational Journalism: Mapping the Research Agenda
14 March 2011

Bachelor of Journalism Students Cover the NPC

Four JMSC Bachelor of Journalism students covered the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing for Hong Kong English language daily newspaper, the South China Morning Post.

Left to right: Crystal Fu, Vicky Kung, Winnie Shum and Tracy Lam

Crystal Fu (BJ Year 3), Winnie Shum (BJ Year 3), Tracy Lam (BJ Year 2) and Vicky Kung (BJ Year 1) were chosen for the trip based on their academic achievements, the success of their internships and their language ability in Putonghua. They were in Beijing between March 1 and 8, 2011.

“I was attached to the SCMP China team with Crystal,” said Vicky Kung. “We joined the SCMP journalists every day at their office in Da Wang Lu for regular meetings and attended many of the NPC and CPPCC press conferences and delegate meetings. Basically, we had to interview, question and record things that officials or important members of the NPC said. Afterwards, we would transcribe the audio file into written documents.”

Vicky Kung wrote a short article, published in the SCMP on March 8, about the impact of the world’s highest dam project, the Yarlung Zangbo project, which is set for construction near the Chinese border with India.

“I learnt that efficiency is a key to success for newspaper journalists,” said Kung. “Deadlines are harsh because newspapers are published everyday. Normally I might chew on a piece of writing for an hour, even if it’s a really short piece, but at the SCMP you are expected to finish a short piece in 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes for an eight cm box. This trip made me want to start pushing my efficiency level to my limits.”

Winnie Shum also wrote two pieces for the paper. She co-wrote an article, also published on March 8, about question marks over the level of Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s Putonghua after he delivered a speech at Peking University.

“I was really glad to see my pieces published in the SCMP,” said Shum. “However, no matter whether my articles got published or not, I treasured the chance to work for the SCMP for a week. It gave me unforgettable work experience in print. It is really different from the work I have done previously in electronic media. Details of the story are more important than immediateness for print media.”

“It broadened my horizons,” continued Shum. “Some reporters from other media told us that the coverage of the NPC is the most difficult thing they do. I learnt the importance of recognising faces. Though the list of delegates at the CPPCC and NPC is really long, experienced reporters can easily recognise them and asked them appropriate questions.”

“Winnie and I worked for the Hong Kong desk of the SCMP,” said Tracy Lam. “I mainly attended meetings of Hong Kong delegates to the CPPCC and NPCC. Unlike the other reporters covering the two conferences, we mainly focused on issues related to Hong Kong such as the specific chapter for Hong Kong in the Twelfth Five Year Plan. We asked the delegates about their response to the plan and also about some current affairs that have happened recently in Hong Kong, such as the budget and the ensuing protests. After these interviews, we would write all the quotes we got and send them to the SCMP reporter to compile them into news articles.”

“I felt exhausted as we usually worked for 12 hours a day, yet very grateful that the SCMP gave us so many opportunities throughout the trip,” Lam added. “All the journalists from Hong Kong were so helpful and willing to teach us new skills and share their experiences. All this meant a lot to me and I really enjoyed the whole trip.”

The trip was arranged and funded by the Journalism Education Foundation Hong Kong Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to raise the standards of journalism in Hong Kong.

The JMSC’s Dr Fu King-Wa accompanied the students on their week-long trip.

“This programme is an excellent opportunity for our students to experience the real life of front line journalism,” said Dr Fu. “It helps them connect their knowledge to their skills and to prepare for their future practice. This mode of learning, namely experiential learning, is promoted by Hong Kong University as a fundamental element of the new undergraduate curriculum.”