Jeff Timmermans hosts talk with The Wall Street Journal Asia editor
30 January 2018
“Women Make Docs” symposium
6 February 2018

JMSC students broaden their skills, cultural horizons with winter internships

By George Russell

From stray dogs to censorship, JMSC’s Master of Journalism candidates encountered a range of real-world issues during their exciting winter internships, in which 55 students were placed in newsrooms around Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Singapore.

“Do your homework in advance and learn the local politics and religion,” advised Olivia Yin Li, one of three MJs assigned to Malaysiakini, the respected news website based in Kuala Lumpur.

The three MJs, Li, Jessica Yang Chenxi and Candy Tang Fengwan, said the Malaysiakini internship opened their eyes to unexpected new cultural aspects—including meeting Muslim colleagues who drank beer and told dirty jokes—and pushed their physical and social boundaries. “I overcame my fear of water to shoot an ad campaign,” said Tang.

The Malaysiakini interns joined their fellow students for a sharing session at Eliot Hall on 25 January, describing their duties and social lives and showing off photos and videos. The annual internships are much sought after, and include stints at news agencies, such as Agence France-Presse and Reuters, daily newspapers such as the South China Morning Post, economic magazines such as Caixin and Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and news and feature websites such as Quartz.

Many offices in which the MJs intern are small operations: they often multitasked, providing text, images, and video. Fatih Isik, interning at Mizzima in Yangon, took a striking sunset photograph that was used for the magazine’s cover. He was surprised, as the wooden bridge is an iconic image of Mandalay. “I don’t know why they didn’t already have that photo,” he said.

Ryan Heng Chang also doubled up as a photographer during his internship at Nepali Times in Kathmandu, writing an extensive double-page feature on the city’s stray dog problem. “We were given free rein to find stories, and the editor-in-chief was always there to help,” he said.

Also in Nepal, MJ Pamela Lin Ziyu used her Mandarin-language capability to report on Mainland investment in the South Asian nation, and discovered that projects were not always positive developments. After wheedling her way into a chat group, Lin found an overpriced airport being built by Chinese investors in Pokhara, central Nepal, which she was able to report on at length.

For Joyce Siu, who interned at Sixth Tone, the online publication based in China, her enthusiasm for a ground-breaking feature project on sexual abuse of blind masseuses was tempered by a delay in publication because of Mainland censors.

After providing additional reporting and researching data, Siu was disappointed that she left her internship with the story unpublished. However, the feature finally saw the light of day on 30 January.

The JMSC has an extensive internship network with leading international media organisations and the majority of MJ students complete internships as part of the programme, giving them an opportunity to apply the skills they have developed in the classroom.

Our other internship partners this year included APV, Burda, Cedar, CNN, Coconuts, The Drinks Business, Forbes, Gatecoin, The Initium, Master Insight, Mingtiandi, Ogilvy & Mather, RTHK and Timeout in Hong Kong; Fireworks and Gokunming in the Mainland; and The Splice Newsroom in Singapore.

JMSC also places interns in its Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, Hong Kong Transparency Report and Weiboscope initiatives as well as with the Global Investigative Journalism Network.


Photography by Foon Lee.