Monthly newsletter: December 2017

Message from Keith


This month, I'm turning over my regular column here to Thomas Abraham, who is departing after 14 years with the JMSC. I'll be back with a new note for you in February, when our spring semester is in full swing, after taking off for the winter break. See you in 2018, everyone. And over to Thomas!

Keith Richburg
JMSC Director

In the autumn of 2003, I stepped into a classroom on an upper floor of Meng Wah Complex with all the confidence of a condemned man being delivered to an executioner. I was supposed to be teaching a Master of Journalism course on international news, and found five or six students waiting expectantly (our classes were small then; our total cohort in those days was around 20 students, most of them part-time).
My heart still goes out to that bunch of guinea pigs. The last time I had been in a classroom was as a graduate student, three decades earlier. I had never taught, but had persuaded a rightly sceptical Ying Chan into letting me try. The course was new and I had cobbled together a syllabus and prepared lectures during the summer months. My students were kind and indulgent. They turned up regularly for class. They waited patiently while I fiddled around with PowerPoint slides and read patiently through the dense lines of text I had typed on the slides. Some of them even read the articles in Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs that I had assigned.
I learned a lot from that first batch of students I taught, and indeed every other batch over the years (perhaps more than they learned from me).
One early lesson was that being a good journalist was not the same as being a good teacher of journalism. Journalism and academia are separate professions, with different objectives and different yardsticks for success. A journalist is judged by the quality of his or her work. Teachers, on the other hand, are judged by the work of their students.  However wonderful a journalist you may be, you only do well if your students do well. Your focus changes from doing your own stories as well as you can to teaching others to do their best. And this probably makes you a better person.
Another big shock to journalists, especially to those who have run large newsrooms and news organizations, is that you are no longer the boss. You are there to serve your students. You cannot yell at them. You cannot fire them. You cannot expect them to do what they are told just because you said so.
This forces you to explain to students why you want them to do things a particular way, and not another way. And this in turn, forces you to ask yourself: Is the way we have always practiced journalism the best way to do so? Because news organizations tend to do things a certain way, does it necessarily mean that it is the best way to do things?

Teaching at the JMSC has been a process of learning about journalism. It has been about learning from the questions students ask, and from the creativity they display. It’s been about having the time to step back and observe the practices of contemporary journalism, and trying to improve them.
So, after nearly a decade at JMSC, armed with all that I have learned from students and my wonderful colleagues, maybe it is time to return to journalism.
Thomas Abraham
Associate Professor of Practice

Some photo highlights of Thomas's time at the JMSC are here on our website.

Congratulations to our 2017 graduates! This year 26 students graduated from the JMSC Bachelor of Journalism programme along with 88 students from the Master of Journalism programme. Diplomas were awarded on 4 December at The University of Hong Kong's 198th
Congregation, with Dr. Jeff Timmermans presenting the candidates and about 80 JMSC graduates in attendance. We look forward to seeing the paths they forge and showcasing their work here.
Later that evening, the Faculty of Social Sciences held a gala dinner to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The JMSC, as a member of the Faculty, took part along with our alumni and industry partners from the FCC and SOPAFrom right: Hong Kong Documentary Initiative project director Ruby Yang, Thomas Abraham, JMSC founding director Ying Chan, Dean of Social Sciences Professor William Hayward and his wife Sasha Haldane, and Keith Richburg.

Kevin Sites, director of the Master of Journalism programme, and members of the JMSC team hosted an information session at Eliot Hall on 6 December for prospective applicants to the MJ programme for the 2018-19 academic year. The visit

included a demonstration in our studio with adjunct professor Matt Walsh, who teaches broadcast journalism and TV news anchoring, and studio manager Koo Kar Lok.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Shuibo Wang was at HKU last month to give a talk about the creative process of his film projects. In case you missed it, read about it here in a piece by Carmel Yang (MJ 2018), with photography by Ayaka McGill (MJ 2018).
Alumni & Student News
Undergraduates Kelly Chiu Shui Kwan, Lam Hau Tung, Ngan Sze Wing, Julie Janina Quelvennec, Wong Un Kuan and Yeung Kwai Yu were part of a team whose final project for Patrick Yu's "Introduction to Strategic Communications" course won top honours in their class. They
presented a one-year strategic communications plan on how to raise the profile of a waterborne textile coating technology. Cynthia Chan, Head of Corporate Communications at Covestro Hong Kong, whose company developed the technology was one of the judges and attended the class on 28 Nov to present the honours to the team.
The JMSC Instagram takeover continued with Sonia Awale (MJ, 2016), a reporter at the Nepali Times taking us to Johannesburg for the Global Investigative Journalism Conference, Nathan Griffiths (MJ, 2012), a VR producer at The New York Times sharing the production of his recent 360 video, and Xinyan Yu (MJ, 2012), multimedia producer at BBC News covering President Donald Trump in Tokyo. Follow us on Instagram to see what our alumni are doing.
Faculty & Staff News
Keith Richburg and Dr. Masato Kajimoto hosted a session at the inaugural International School Journalism Conference at Hong Kong International School, which was also attended by students from the American School of Warsaw. They spoke to a group of senior high school students about careers in journalism and the importance of news literacy in this climate of dis/misinformation.
Masato, who is the project leader of the Asia Pacific Digital Citizens Project, was the speaker at a talk hosted by Hong Kong Free Press at the 2017 Online Media Summit. The conference, held on 3 December, focused on how online media can defend press freedom in Hong Kong.
Ruby Yang, who heads the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, held a screening at the JMSC Studio for her forthcoming documentary Ritoma. The film features a group of Tibetan nomads in the settlement of Ritoma in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province and looks at their struggle in this time of transition to keep their culture alive while also embracing the modern world.
You can catch the entire SOPA "Media Insiders Series" talk on 15 November where JMSC's career strategist Kevin Lau and other media insiders discuss where and how content providers are finding talent.
Selected Articles by Faculty & Staff

2 November – Asia Pacific Media Educator: Ahead of the e-Curve in fact checking and verification education: The University of Hong Kong’s Cyber News Verification Lab leads verification education in Asia, by Anne Kruger

5 November – Hong Kong Free Press: Hong Kong independence row: International standards for sedition must be the norm, by Sharron Fast

18 November  – South China Morning Post: Would Hong Kong be better off without the jury system?, by Cliff Buddle

27 November – CNN: Colorful WWF map showcases Hong Kong's biodiversity, by Marian Liu

2 December – Medium: The Unconventional Professor, by Ying Chan

Selected Articles by Alumni & Students

2 November – Wall Street Journal: China’s Communist Party Has Ties to $5.15 Billion Hong Kong Property Deal, co-written by Natasha Khan (MJ 2011)

3 November – Nepali Times: The kingdom of cardamom, by Sonia Awale (MJ 2016)
5 November – BBC News: What Japanese women think of Ivanka Trump, by Xinyan Yu (MJ 2012)
6 November – Hong Kong Democracy Activist Joshua Wong Talks to TIME About Life Behind Bars, by Kevin Lui, (MJ 2015)
9 November – Quartz: In Beijing, Trump should get acquainted with Xi Jinping’s “Steve Bannon”, by Zheping Huang (MJ 2014)
13 November – Bloomberg: Alibaba’s Rise Creates At Least 10 Billionaires Not Named Jack Ma, by Venus Feng (MJ 2015)

16 November – Reuters: Hong Kong IPO surge challenges New York in battle for China listings, co-written by Julie Zhu (MJ 2011)

22 November – RTHK English News: Subsidy delays threaten asylum seekers' schooling, Jimmy Choi (MJ 2017)

1 December – Sixth Tone: Patriarchy 101: School Espouses Sexist ‘Feminine Virtues’, by Liang Chenyu (MJ 2016)

4 December – South China Morning Post: New hurdle for lesbian couple in visa fight as Hong Kong court grants government leave to appeal, by Jasmine Siu (BJ 2013)
Coming up
Ruby will be giving a talk at Eslite bookstore in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on 10 December to discuss the social impact of documentary films and her own creative process among other topics. She will also be sharing details about the HKDI Seed Grants Programme, which is now open for applications.
Dr. King-wa Fu is presenting a paper at the 2nd International Workshop on Application of Big Data for Computational Social Science 2017 that will be held in Boston on 11 Dec. His paper is titled “‘Fake News’ Drives out Real: Analyzing Posts and Links shared on Public Facebook Pages During the 2016 US Presidential Election”.
Agence France-Presse recently published a Chinese version of the AFP Editorial Standards and Best Practices, the newswire’s ethics charter, in collaboration with the JMSC. Philippe Massonnet, AFP’s Asia-Pacific Director, and Eric Wishart, former AFP editor-in-chief and now an adjunct professor at the JMSC, will be giving a presentation about the agency's code of ethics in February at the JMSC. Event details to come.
The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative is launching the next series of Master Classes with Oscar Documentarians next spring. The Oscar-nominated American director Kirsten Johnson and renowned Hong Kong-born editor Mary Stephen will be hosting classes in directing, cinematography and editing from 1-11 February 2018. Stay tuned for programme details on the HKDI website or sign up for its newsletter for updates.