Monthly newsletter: November 2017

Message from Keith


By Keith B. Richburg

The swift downfall of Hollywood movie titan Harvey Weinstein, following multiple reported allegations of rape and sexual assault, among other misdeeds against women, has cast a welcome spotlight on one of the darkest corners of the workplace culture; the problem of sexual harassment and unequal treatment of women.

The #MeToo movement, with more and more women (and some men) stepping forward to tell their stories of being harassed has now gone global. Women in the U.K. and France have come forward to share tales of suffering at the hands of male colleagues.

China was also in the news, for the wrong reasons, when a state-run newspaper ran a ludicrous commentary asserting that sexual harassment did not happen in China, because Chinese culture taught men to respect women. The outcry on social media was so ferocious that the offending op-ed, in China Daily, has been deleted from the paper’s online site, and replaced by a notice saying; “Sorry, the URL you requested was not found.”

Official Chinese publications often like to claim that societal problems like gun violence, drug addiction, racism and, presumably now, sexual harassment are only found in the decadent West. But Chinese netizens were having none of it, which shows that even with the Beijing government’s tight control over the Internet, the online conversation still has the power to change the debate and force even official media to back down.

The other lesson I take from this debate is the enduring power of the legacy media, with good old-fashioned sleuthing, to prompt a debate and force a change of mind-set. The Weinstein story came from an in-depth investigation by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The New York Times, which in my view deserve a Pulitzer Prize for sparking this new global movement against workplace sexual harassment. And the reporters did it through digging and finding documents to bring to light Weinstein’s history of abusing, and then paying off, the women he victimised.

Journalism is in no way immune. Stories of sexual harassment by conservative icon Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and the late Roger Ailes pre-dated the Weinstein revelations. And newsrooms in the past were known as male-dominated bastions filled with loose sexual banter. Men still dominate the upper ranks of newsrooms where decisions are made.

But that’s changing. Women now far outnumber men in journalism schools — like the JMSC — and will soon be climbing up the editorial ranks to more management positions. That’s a great thing. For the news media to report stories of real interest to readers, they need to have newsrooms that reflect the diverse makeup of their readership, which means more women. And then hopefully stories like Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds, long the stuff of rumours and whispers, won’t go unreported for so long.

Keith Richburg
JMSC Director

Highlights last month
Authors of four recent books about Hong Kong were at the JMSC to discuss a wide range of issues, from identity and public space to post-handover relationship with Beijing and creativity. Among them was our alumnus, Christopher DeWolf (MJ, 2009), who was joined by Antony
Dapiran and moderator Christy Choi (MJ, 2011). Erin Hale (MJ, 2014) moderated the second talk with authors Ben Bland and Simon Cartledge. The talks were live-streamed on Facebook, our Social Media Partner for the events, from our TV studio; they can be viewed here.
Christopher DeWolf also kicked off our alumni Instagram Takeover. He was followed by Lukas Messmer (MJ, 2015), who posted from Bangkok during King Bhumibol's cremation ceremony. We're inviting alumni to share what goes on in their work life. Follow JMSC on Instagram to see what they're up to.
Members of the Hong Kong Police Public Relations Branch gave a talk to one of our graduate classes on 26 Oct. Read a report by Master of Journalism student Suhas Bhat about the visit here.
Faculty & Staff News
The JMSC news literacy team — Masato KajimotoAnne Kruger and their research assistants Ann Choy and Samantha Stanley — received a research grant from Google News Lab to catalogue and analyse the mis/disinformation ecosystem in the Asia Pacific region.
Associate Professor King-wa Fu joined lawmakers at a press conference on 17 Oct to call on the Hong Kong government to enact freedom of information legislation and presented findings by the Hong Kong Transparency Report about the failings of government agencies to
give access to information. Later that day, Dr. Fu joined Dan Costa, chief editor of, at an event co-hosted by the Consulates General of Australia and the United States to discuss "Big Data and Journalism". (Photo: Office of Charles Mok)
Doreen Weisenhaus, director of the JMSC Media Law Project, who was recently back at HKU to moderate at a conference, spoke to the South China Morning Post about how Hong Kong is lagging in media law and press freedom.
Attendees of the recent fireside chat organized by the HKU Development & Alumni Affairs Office were treated to an intimate talk by Ruby Yang about "Advocacy in Films and Media". Highlights from the talk, which director Keith Richburg moderated, is now available on the JMSC YouTube channel.
Associate Professor of Practice Kevin Sites gave a virtual seminar on safety for Philippine journalists in Manila who may be sent to cover the armed conflict in the southern Philippine Islands, current drug violence in the capital, and other hostile areas.
The event in late September was part of a series of seminars Kevin has given at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State. He has previously travelled to Beijing, Guangzhou and Bulgaria for similar events.
Selected Articles by Faculty & Staff

13 October – CNN: #WomenBoycottTwitter protest erupts over Rose McGowan's suspension, co-written by Marian Liu

14 October – South China Morning Post: What would Trump think about Hong Kong football fans booing the Chinese anthem?, by Keith Richburg

18 October – Nikkei Asian Review: China ascendant, US floundering, by Keith Richburg

30 October – Nieman Lab: A snap election (and global worries over fake news) spur fact-checking collaborations in Japan, by Masato Kajimoto

Selected Articles by Students & Alumni

6 October – CNN International: Bangladesh to move 800,000 Rohingya into single enormous camp, co-written by Medhavi Arora (BJ, 2016)

9 October – Reuters: Buyers eye Sinopec's Argentina oil assets in sale worth up to $1 billion: sources, by Julie Zhu (MJ, 2011)

11 October – Quartz: Your news about China depends on intrepid journalists whose names you’ll probably never know, by Zheping Huang (MJ, 2014)
14 October – Hong Kong Free Press: From Hong Kong to Italy and back: Local artist Heidi Li sings her multicultural journey, by Marta Colombo (MJ, 2017)
18 October – South China Morning Post: More say for Hong Kong’s youth as government recruits them for input on policymaking, by Billy SK Wong (BJ, 2015)

24 October – Wall Street Journal: Hong Kong Protest Leader Joshua Wong Freed on Bail, by Natasha Khan (MJ, 2011)

31 October – Ghost Money: The Hong Kong Master Creating Art In Paper Offerings To The Dead, by Tiffany Choi (MJ, 2018)

Coming up this month
Yue Qiu, Team Leader of the Bloomberg Graphics international team, will be speaking to JMSC students on 1 Nov about data, storytelling and novel forms to produce insightful graphics, interactive features and web experiences.
Visit the JMSC booth at the HKU Information Day on 4 Nov. Jeffrey Timmermans, director of Bachelor of Journalism programme, and our admissions team will be giving talks about our undergraduate programme and news production demos. Times and location here.
Pulitzer Prize-Winning writer and journalist Ian Johnson will be at HKU to talk about his latest book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao, on 6 Nov. Click here for details about the event the JMSC is co-organizing with the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
JMSC's Career Strategist Kevin Lau and other media insiders discuss where and how content providers are finding talent at SOPA's latest "Media Insiders Series" on 15 Nov.
Dr. Masato Kajimoto, Asst. Professor of Practice, will be speaking about the "Misinformation Ecosystem" at the annual News Xchange conference in Amsterdam from 15-16 Nov.