By George W. Russell
With her video storytelling covering such diverse subjects as Hong Kong’s last traditional food stalls and a man who makes mahjong tiles, Lyn Yang (MJ 2019) pays attention to details. That focus has helped her become this year’s winner of the prestigious Mick Deane Scholarship for Video Journalism.
“This is really good news for me,” said an excited Lyn after hearing of her achievement. “It’s a perfect ending of my MJ year and an exciting start for my career.”
Instructor Eva Tam (MJ 2012), senior multimedia producer at Fidelity International, and a former video journalist at The Wall Street Journal, described Lyn as “one of the best videographers I’ve seen in years.”
She added: “Lyn is able to capture the often-missed details of even the most typical stories. Her passion for video journalism shines through in her stories.”
Lyn was chosen for the scholarship by a panel of judges, comprising APV founder Mark Erder, last year’s winner Sida Wang (MJ 2018), JMSC lecturer Matt Walsh and JMSC director Keith Richburg.
“After watching Lyn’s works, I could tell she pays attention to things happening around her and she could develop a story from there,” says Sida. “I think this ability is very essential for a video journalist.”
Lyn had no video journalism experience when she started the course. “I was completely new to the video field when I first entered the school,” she says. “But the Video News Production course allowed me to master the basics of video shooting and editing in a short time.”
She followed that course with Documentary Production in the second semester. “That gave me a more flexible perspective,” Lyn says.
Eva says JMSC has strong video news production courses because they are taught by people with years of experience. “I think it’s great that JMSC brings back their alumni to teach a new generation of students so they can share their stories, knowledge and technical know-how.”
Video consumption habits change rapidly, Eva notes. “We don’t consume the news the way we use to anymore—platforms are constantly changing,” she points out.
“Just a few years ago, we were pushing 360-videos, and 10-second clips on Snapchat,” Eva says. “Now we’re watching animated 12-minute news explainers on Netflix or highly-produced square social videos on Facebook. There’s always a new way of consuming your news video, and we need to be able to adapt to the changes and style of it.”
Lyn is the fifth winner of the Deane scholarship. The inaugural prize went to Lukas Messmer (MJ 2015) of Switzerland, a producer of the award-winning MSNBC documentary The Umbrella Movement.
The second award went to Xu Xiaotong (MJ 2016), from Guiyang in Guizhou province, southwest China. Xiaotong produced a documentary that explored challenges for mainland Chinese students adjusting to life in Hong Kong.
The 2017 winner was Zhang Hao (MJ 2017), from Yinchuan, capital of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, who was a features writer, on-camera reporter and video editor for the English-language channel of CCTV.com/CNTV Beijing before starting her programme at JMSC.
Sida, last year’s winner, joined China Daily’s Asia-Pacific bureau as a multimedia producer. “I am responsible for producing a China Daily Originals weekly show called Girl City, which explores femininity and the female identity in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Deane, for whom the scholarship is named, was killed by a sniper’s bullet at the age of 61 while covering the “Arab Spring” protests in Egypt in 2013. Deane had previously worked in Hong Kong from 1988 to 1994 as ITN’s Asia cameraman. For the last 15 years of his life he worked for Britain’s Sky News, based in the United States and London before his assignment to the Middle East.
“He approached his work with an embracing sense of collaboration, discipline and compassion,” recalled Mark Erder, a long-time friend and colleague, who added that scholarship winners can uphold Deane’s legacy by “remaining curious, being generous of spirit and knowledge and being ready to teach the next generation of journalists”.
Lyn said she would like to become more versatile at video journalism. “I would like to learn different ways of visual storytelling, such as through a vlog, or using a drone to do city-view shooting.”
Her HK$20,000 scholarship will be put to good use, she says. “I want to use it to purchase video-related equipment and start my personal media channel. The options now in my mind include a sound recorder, a better camera, and a DJI Osmo Pocket.”
George W. Russell (MJ 2016) is editor-at-large at JMSC and works as an editor in the Financial Times Hong Kong bureau.