Four JMSC Bachelor of Journalism students covered the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) meetings in Beijing in March for two of Hong Kong’s leading newspapers.
Andrea Chen (BJ Year 2) and Mimi Tong (BJ Year 1) filed stories for the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily, while Yvonne Tong and Eunice Fung (both BJ Year 2) filed for Ming Pao, one of the top Chinese-language papers. The four were chosen based, among other things, on their academic achievement and their language ability in Putonghua.
The students were in Beijing between March 1 and 8, 2012, working alongside professional journalists from various media organisations. The four submitted numerous articles, photos and interviews.
The trip, which included 24 students and six teachers from six universities, 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.
In addition to the SCMP and Ming Pao, students were assigned to HK Economic Times, Sing Tao Daily, ATV, Commercial Radio and HK Broadband.
“Having read Ming Pao since I was young, I was proud to work with the reporters,” said Yvonne Tong. “They were all helpful and willing to teach us practical journalism, things that we were not able to learn in class back at the JMSC.”
“On the last evening of the trip, they treated us to dinner during which they gave us a lot of advice about being a journalist in Hong Kong, which I found immensely helpful and inspiring.”
Mimi Tong gained her first real-life reporting experience during this trip, working alongside SCMP reporters.
As a Year 1 BJ student lacking practical experience, Tong said, she found the trip provided her with an opportunity that “enriched my understanding of the effort that goes into each article.”
Andrea Chen, who was also assigned to the SCMP, said the experience made her realize the realities and complexities of journalism.
“For me this trip to Beijing was a kind of a barometer of how suited I am to covering current affairs,” said Chen. “Surrounded by a great many experienced journalists who never let go of any potential source, I realise I have a long way to go.”
She also discovered the value of getting to know news sources. “Now I understand what our professors mean when they say that networking can be our most valuable asset,” she said.
“The trip made me realise that my enthusiasm for politics is real,” she continued. “Becoming a current affairs journalist used to be merely a goal. Now, knowing how I should improve, I can see my route into it.”
The JMSC’s Project Manager and Honorary Lecturer, Velentina Ma, accompanied the students on their week-long trip.
“It provided a precious opportunity for the students to practise reporting in real life, especially at a national event like the NPC and CPPCC, with hundreds of reporters from round the world.” said Ma.
“They learnt to report to a tight deadline and to maintain a professional attitude. In due course, they also learnt to overcome difficulties and be a good team member of a newsroom. This mode of experiential learning can add to what they learn in class.”