Feb 13: Screening — Assignment: China – The Week that Changed the World
7 February 2012
Feb 10: Talk – Paid Internships at Bloomberg
8 February 2012

MJs Share Internship Experiences in Open Session

Master of Journalism students shared stories about their recent internship experiences at an open session at the JMSC.

20 MJs gave five minute presentations about their internships in media organisations in Hong Kong and abroad.

Lauren Dockett, the JMSC internship coordinator, encouraged the students to discuss what they had learnt during their work experience. Dockett also asked them to talk about the medium itself and whether they had been be inspired to pursue it in future.

Sylvain Gharbi opened the session by sharing his experience at Agence-France Presse (AFP).

Sylvain Gharbi (MJ 2012)

Gharbi worked at AFP as a video editor, working in French and English. He did some translating and writing.

“It was directly related to what I did in the Fall semester because I used Final Cut Pro,” said Gharbi.

He enjoyed the experience but ultimately decided that working to the tight deadlines of hard news wasn’t what he wanted to do in the longer term. “I would much rather focus on a longer-term project,” he said.

Patrick Boehler shared his double internship experience. He worked at Malaysiakini, a Malaysian news website, and at the Irrawaddy, a news wire focussing on Burma.

“Both countries are not the freest in the world,” said Boehler. “They have a guerilla attitude to bringing news to the people which is kind of exciting.”

At Malaysiakini, shot photos and video in addition to writing stories. He got his first byline for a court report.

He particularly enjoyed working at Irrawaddy, which is based in Chiang Mai in Thailand: “It was extremely exciting to be there. There’s no-one in the office who hasn’t been imprisoned for at least five years.”

Lionel Mok and Anne Renzenbrink both reported for the lifestyle section of the Phnom Penh Post.

“To be honest, the first few days I was disappointed because I wanted to be writing political stories,” said Renzenbrink. “But by the end I was happy to be writing for a lifestyle section because of the breadth of people I spoke to.”

“It was my first real journalistic experience,” she continued. “I got my first bylines.”

They talked about both the interest and the difficulties of working in a developing country where power cuts can happen at any moment.

Echo Yu worked in another Asian country — Indonesia.

Yu was writing for the Jakarta Post, the biggest and oldest English language newspaper in Indonesia.

“The work environment was great,” she said. “The media is really free, they respect reporters. This was a huge advantage of the Jakarta Post.”

Yu published 10 articles. She started off writing features but by the end was writing political news.

Like Renzenbrink and Mok in Cambodia, Yu also encountered logistical problems: “Everybody’s always half and hour or longer late in Indonesia because of the awful traffic.”

Hua Lu worked as an Assistant Editor at Southern Weekend, a weekly newspaper based in Guangzhou. It is one of China’s most popular newspapers.

She was writing environmental news for the Green Pages.

“Although I have four years of journalism experience, it was a brand new role to be an editor,” said Lu. “So actually I learnt a lot.”

“It’s not as exciting as working in the field but it’s a very important job,” she continued. “If you read a good article, there is usually a good editor behind it.”

Yang Jing worked as the Hong Kong reporter for another mainland news organisation — Caixin.com.

“Caixin is the Chinese news organisation that enjoys the most international prominence,” said Jing.

“This didn’t feel like an internship, it felt like a freelance job,” she said. “I got to work as a real reporter. There was no newsroom and no office and no colleagues to ask for help. So I had to be really independent.”

Natalie Wang worked on the opinion pages of the International Herald Tribune (IHT), the global edition of the New York Times.

Natalie Wang (MJ 2012)

Based at the IHT’s Hong Kong office, Wang was responsible for fact checking and pitching ideas about China.

Wang’s experience helped her to decide what branch of journalism she wants to work for in future: “Interning [at the IHT] made me want to do opinion pieces as a job.”

Koney Bai worked for another international news provider with a bureau in Hong Kong — the BBC World Service.

Bai wrote articles in Putonghua for the BBC Chinese Service website; she wrote between two and five articles a day.

“I covered Hong Kong stories, Chinese stories and business news,” she said. “What impressed me most about the BBC was it has its own writing style.”

Sergio Held worked in Hong Kong at CNN en Espagnol, CNN’s Spanish service.

Held talked about the challenges of finding stories in Asia that are relevant to a Latin American audience: “A lot of the stories are timeless or about business.”

Held has enjoyed such success during his internship that he has been authorised to make his own packages for CNN en Espagnol.

The students were overwhelmingly positive about their work experience. Many of them they gained their first real-life journalistic experience in high calibre media houses and also first ever bylines.

The JMSC aims to help all Master of Journalism students find an internship in a media organisation of their choice in Hong Kong, mainland China, Asia and the rest of the world.