Message from Keith
After a year of some depressing developments on the press freedom front, let me leave you this last newsletter note before the holiday break with some rare good news for journalism. In fact, I could call it great news.
First, at the start of December, The Washington Post, my old alma mater, announced it was opening a new foreign bureau to cover West Africa, most likely based in Dakar, Senegal, while also adding a new Asian editor to Hong Kong to be responsible for coordinating news from Asia while the U.S. is still asleep. These moves come on top of putting new correspondents in Hong Kong and Rome, showing that the Post, under new owner Jeff Bezos, is doubling down on journalism and expanding the paper’s foreign operations.
Likewise, the venerable Los Angeles Times, under its new owner, billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong, announced the opening of a new bureau in Singapore, and the reopening of its dormant bureau in Seoul.
After so many years of seeing news organizations shutter foreign bureaus and scale back global coverage, these new developments are heartening evidence of a turnaround. It seems that newspapers’ new deep-pocketed owners may be ready to help resuscitate an industry ravaged by the advent of the internet and the collapse of the old ad-based publishing model.
And at the end of November came the exciting news that Australian philanthropist and art collector Judith Neilson planned to donate A$100 million (HK$560 million) to a new journalism institute to support fact-based journalism through targeted grant and education programmes. We at JMSC look forward to exploring ways to partner with the new Sydney-based Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
In announcing the new initiative, Neilson said, “Journalism doesn’t just need critics, it needs champions—people and institutions with the resources to help educate, encourage and connect journalists and their audience in pursuit of excellence.”
Well said. At a time when it has become popular to decry “fake news” and criticise the press, seeing people with resources putting money into journalism leaves me confident about the future. As we approach the Christmas season, with Chinese New Year just around the corner, that should give us all a bit of holiday good cheer.
Director of the JMSC