Monthly newsletter: September 2017
Message from Keith


Does anybody really want to study journalism these days?
The answer, as I can see—after this year’s orientation sessions for our latest Master of Journalism students and our strong new undergraduate cohort—is a resounding yes.
It might seem incongruous to find so many young people interested in journalism. The industry is in the throes of disruption. The profession is facing a constant barrage of attacks as “Fake News!” And the job market for reporters at traditional publications is rapidly shrinking. Each day brings more distressing news of the demise of the old print media—most recently The Wall Street Journal’s decision to stop distributing its print edition in Hong Kong next month.
Those lucky few who do manage to find journalism jobs, we constantly are told, are destined to toil away long hours with abysmal pay in a career that ranks somewhere below used car salesmen in public esteem.
But all the dire warnings—many of them exaggerated—have certainly not dimmed the enthusiasm of the new students we welcomed here to the JMSC for the term that just started September 1. They are primed and ready to go. And I don’t blame them. As I always say, despite the industry disruption and all the background noise, this is an exciting time to be a journalist, and to be studying journalism.
For one thing, the decline of print has also meant the rise of new digital media outlets that offer untold opportunities for journalists, particularly young people just entering the business. Sites like Hong Kong Free Press, Quartz, The Information and Sixth Tone, to name a few, did not exist a few years ago, but now offer great new platforms for smart, innovative storytelling. It’s still an unstable marketplace, and many new digital outlets are struggling to find their financial footing. But they all are looking for quality content.
Also, the legacy news outlets may be reducing the number of their staff foreign correspondents, a job I held for years at The Washington Post, but that opens up new chances for adventurous and entrepreneurial young journalists to head straight to far-flung places and set up shop. The old barriers to enter the once rarefied world of foreign reporting have now virtually disappeared. Have notebook and video camera, will travel!
We also recognise that many students, particularly some of our undergrads, come here to study journalism but do not intend to enter the field. We encourage that. The tools we teach—communicating well, writing clearly and concisely, shooting and editing video—are valuable, and applicable, in almost any field or profession. That’s why our motto for the Bachelor of Journalism programme is “A communications focused double-major degree for the digital age.”
So, whether they are here to master the tools to equip them for roles in this new media ecosystem, or whether they are with us to hone their writing and communications skills to take into another profession, we welcome our newest intake of students. We have a jam-packed semester ahead, and a lot of new innovations in our curriculum.
You are going to be busy this year. But the rewards are well worth it. Welcome—and buckle up!
And speaking of welcomes, we want to give a big shout out to the new Dean of the Social Sciences Faculty, Will Hayward. Dean Hayward is no newcomer to HKU—he was here for eight years previously before decamping to his native New Zealand, and we are lucky he was lured back here. With the JMSC now an official department of the Faculty, we look forward to many interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts under his leadership. Welcome home!

Keith Richburg

JMSC Director
Highlights last month
The Journalism and Media Studies Centre welcomed 100 new students to its Master of Journalism and Bachelor of Journalism programmes for the 2017-2018 academic year. The 68 postgraduate candidates hail from 13 countries and territories, including 36 students from China and 14 from Hong Kong. “Our Master’s students are internationally diverse,” says director Keith Richburg, “and we have a lot this year coming with previous journalism experience, who will add to the mix.”
“We’ve got another outstanding incoming class this year—including our first student from Estonia,” says Jeffrey Timmermans, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of the Bachelor of Journalism programme. “It’s very encouraging to see so many talented young people who are interested in pursuing journalism in their university studies.”

Thomas Abraham, who has served as director of the Master of Journalism programme for seven years, will be retiring at the end of this academic year. In a surprise ceremony at the MJ orientation on Saturday, 26 August, JMSC director Keith Richburg presented Thomas with a token of our appreciation for his contribution to the JMSC. Kevin Sites, Associate Professor of Practice, will take over this September and will continue to build on Thomas's success with the masters programme.

More than 6,600 students from 125 countries have enrolled in Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens since its launch in January. The MOOC is offered in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, and is recognised by its platform host, Coursera, as a social impact course. Learn more about JMSC's news literacy efforts here.

JMSC alumna Tamsyn Burgmann profiled Professor John Burns for a feature article on our website as a send-off as he steps down as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Read it here to learn how time and time again Professor Burns's decisions throughout his 40 years in Hong Kong have shaped his life and career at HKU.
Faculty & Staff News
JMSC Director Keith Richburg joined former Financial Secretary John Tsang at the Induction Forum for first-year social sciences students on 20 August. The theme of the open-floor discussion was "What's wrong with populism?", where students considered the issue from their experience of social media to observations about populist leaders.
Masato KajimotoAnne Kruger and JMSC Ph.D. candidate Samantha Stanley presented papers at the Global News Literacy Conference, organised by the Center for News Literacy of Stony Brook University. At a series of workshops held in New York from 13-15 August, participants shared best teaching practices and developed strategies for expanding news literacy to new groups of learners, among other objectives.
Assistant Professor of Practice Masato Kajimoto gave a 3-day course from 28-30 August to secondary school students as part of the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education's humanities offerings. Masato introduced students to the basic elements of journalism in his class "Making Sense of Journalism: News Literacy Lessons for Smart News Audience", teaching them how to become smarter news consumers with greater awareness about society.
JMSC honorary lecturer and China Media Project co-director David Bandurski is currently serving as a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. He is working on a book about Chinese media history.
Articles by Faculty & Staff

1 August – The Wall Street Journal: Stolen Emails Show Ties Between U.A.E. Envoy and 1MDB Fund’s Central Figure, co-written by Tom Wright

4 August – Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication: The Relationship Between Cyberbalkanization and Opinion Polarization: Time-Series Analysis on Facebook Pages and Opinion Polls During the Hong Kong Occupy Movement and the Associated Debate on Political Reform, co-written by Chung-hon Chan (JMSC Ph.D. candidate) and King-wa Fu

23 August – Nikkei Asian Review: White House dysfunction ensnares the world, by Keith B. Richburg

Articles by Students & Alumni
2 August – Quartz: In China, a pioneering transgender movie made by teens is trying to skirt censorship, co-written by Zheping Huang (MJ, 2014)
3 August – Lawyer Accuses China of 'Enforced Disappearance' of Deceased Nobel Laureate's Widow, by Kevin Lui (MJ, 2015)

4-10 August – Nepali Times: Far too young, by Sonia Awale (MJ, 2016)

11 August – Quartz: China is investigating its internet giants over failures to police content—and sending a warning, by Echo Huang (MJ, 2016)

17 August – Wall Street Journal: Hong Kong Protest Leader Joshua Wong Sentenced to Six Months in Jail, by Natasha Khan (MJ, 2011)

18 August  – South China Morning Post: China calls for reining in risks in surging bitcoin market, by Jane Li (MJ, 2014)

19 August – Post Magazine, South China Morning Post: China’s one-child policy has a legacy of bereaved parents facing humiliation and despair, by Liya Fan (MJ, 2016)

24 August – Asia Times Online: Alibaba plans major expansion in Hong Kong, co-written by Lin Wanxia (MJ, 2016)

Coming up this month

Anne Kruger will be speaking at the first Asian Conference for Political Communication that will be held in Singapore from 4-5 September. Organised by the German think tank Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the ACPC is bringing together communication experts across Asia and the Pacific to talk about challenges on social media, discuss the odds and threats of #twiplomacy, and analyse the phenomena of rising populism.

The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, along with WildAid and the US Consulate General, will be presenting the Hong Kong premiere of The Last Animals at 7:30pm on 5 September at the Wang Gungwu Lecture Hall, HKU. The documentary follows the activists battling poachers and trafficking syndicates to protect elephants and rhinos from extinction. Register for the free event here.

Join Ruby Yang at a fireside chat "Advocacy in Films and Media" on 22 September from 6:30-8:30pm at the HKU Foundation Chamber, Hung Hing Ying Building. Sign up for the event here. For more information about both these events, please contact the HKDI.