Monthly newsletter: February 2018

Message from Keith

Welcome back!

In our first month back after the winter break, we hosted screenings of two films, both of which highlighted the centrality of the media to safeguarding America’s democratic institutions. The films are distinctly American, but the lessons are global.

The first was All The President’s Men, about the two dogged Washington Post investigative reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. That was followed by the new film, The Post, about the earlier, courageous decision by the storied paper’s publisher, Katharine Graham, and executive editor Ben Bradlee to publish the Pentagon Papers, the US government’s secret history of its involvement in Vietnam.

The two films are a timely reminder of why tough independent journalism remains indispensable to holding government accountable.

Right now, trust in the media is at an all-time low. The current occupant of the White House derides independent journalism as “fake news,” and the attack is being echoed by autocrats worldwide.

Journalists around the world continue to face harassment, threats, and jail. Two Reuters journalists in Myanmar were arrested under the Official Secrets Act for reporting on the military’s ethnic cleansing of the minority Rohingya. In the Philippines, the government is trying to revoke the license of the news website Rappler, which has been a thorn in the side of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders warns that we are reaching a “tipping point” for press freedom, with attacks on the media commonplace and the era of post-truth propaganda spreading.

We have to resist the erosion of media freedom as journalists, and more importantly, as citizens. When journalists cannot report independently, people cannot have access to the information they need to keep track of what their governments are doing in their name.

Without a probing, questioning, observing press, businesses cannot make informed decisions. When the media is silenced, corruption flourishes. It is no coincidence that the countries with the most repressed media also tend to be the most corrupt.

The two movies are also a reminder that the press and the government have always had an adversarial relationship—that did not start with President Donald Trump.

If the press is performing its proper role, adversity comes with the job. The old adage says it best: “News is something somebody somewhere wants to hide. Everything else is just advertising.”

And finally, on an upbeat note: we at the JMSC would like to wish all of you a very Happy Year of the Dog!

Keith Richburg
Director of the JMSC

We kicked off the new semester with a full house at a panel discussion on 17 January organized with PEN Hong Kong, "Soft Power, Hard Reality: China's Global Ambitions". Wall Street Journal business reporter and JMSC alumna Natasha Khan and award-winning journalist
Louisa Lim were joined by moderator Ilaria Maria Sala of PEN Hong Kong. They discussed how the Chinese government's propaganda machine reaches across borders to influence media, academia, and literature.
Dozens of JMSC students and staff were treated to a preview of The Post at a theatre in Kowloon on 19 January, followed by a Q&A session with JMSC director Keith Richburg and Lecturer Matt Walsh. Keith, who was with The Washington Post for 35 years and worked with both
Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, the key figures in the movie, shared anecdotes about his time there. He also took questions from the audience about the difficulties facing journalists today and the newspaper business.
Dr. Jeff Timmermans, Associate Professor of Practice, hosted a talk with Andrew Dowell, Asia Editor of The Wall Street Journal, on 30 January at Eliot Hall. They discussed how the Internet age has forced dramatic changes at a newspaper that remained unchanged for more than a century, but last year took the radical step of abandoning its print edition in Asia & Europe.
Prospective students from 16 locations around the world joined our live admissions webinar for the 2018-2019 Master of Journalism programme on 13 January. Kevin SItes, director of the programme, along with Lecturer Sharron Fast and Assistant Lecturer AJ Libunao, answered questions, with three of our current students on hand to share their experiences at the JMSC.
2018 marks the eighth year that JMSC is administering the SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence. Submission for entries have just closed. The winners will be announced in May, followed by an awards presentation on 13 June.
Student & Alumni News
A majority of our full-time Master of Journalism students secured internships during the winter break, returning with great experiences and lessons learned. George Russell attended a sharing session where some of them showcased their
published work and talked about their adventures in Beijing, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Yangon, and here in Hong Kong. Learn more in George's piece on our website.
A group of our students visited the Tai Po office and printing plant of the South China Morning Post on 30 January. They met with editors and staff to learn about the company's digital transformation following its acquisition by Alibaba.
Faculty & Staff News
Director Keith Richburg made headlines during a debate with Chinese venture capitalist Eric Li, which was moderated by Alibaba co-founder and SCMP Publishers chairman Joe Tsai, at the 2018 South China Morning Post China Conference on 11 January. Watch the full debate here. (Photo: SCMP)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout spoke to Keith Richburg about how Asia views the Trump presidency on her show News Stream on 22 January as the US was counting down to the government shutdown. Watch a clip here. (Photo: CNN)
Associate Professor King-wa Fu spoke at the inaugural "What is Hong Kong Studies? Paradigms, Perspectives and Puzzles" forum held at City University of Hong Kong on 6 January.

King-wa has also kicked off the Wechatscope project, a spin-off from Weiboscope. Assisting him are new joiners Regina Chung and Yun Tai, who will be tracking censored contents of Weixin public accounts. Regina was a former Apple Daily reporter who went on to complete master's degrees in Global Justice
(University of Sheffield) and Post-war Recovery Studies (University of York). Before joining us, she was a documentary film researcher. Yun obtained her BA and MA degrees in Sociology at National Chengchi University in Taiwan and PhD in Sociology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a postdoctoral fellow in digital initiatives at the Chinese University of Hong Kong prior to coming to the JMSC.
Dr. Masato Kajimoto, Assistant Professor of Practice, has been appointed a research fellow at the Center for Child Development at Hong Kong Baptist University. He will be collaborating on research projects and activities to explore ways to incorporate news literacy education and critical thinking skills into school curricula in Hong Kong.
He was also awarded a grant from the U21@21 Fund of Universitas 21 to organize a student workshop and public symposium with Waseda University in Tokyo this May and will be bringing a group of Bachelor of Journalism students to attend.
In November, Masato joined a panel to discuss the "Misinformation Ecosystem" at the annual News Xchange conference in Amsterdam. Here's the full panel discussion. Japan's NHK recently interviewed Masato for a current affairs programme on fake news in Asia. An excerpt of the interview can be found here in Japanese.
A number of publications about mis/disinformation have quoted JMSC's news literacy initiatives led by Masato. They include PEN America's "Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth”, First Draft News and the European Council's "INFORMATION DISORDER: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making”, and an article in Forbes, "Like Trump, These Southeast Asian Countries Are Using 'Fake News' To Devastating Effect".
Sharron Fast has been appointed deputy director of the Master of Journalism programme. She also joins Kevin Sites, Associate Professor of Practice, as a Student Health, Welfare and Safety officer for the JMSC, bringing her invaluable legal experience to this role. Kevin and Sharron are first responders to our students for issues ranging from mental health to harassment. Kevin has a CEDARS certificate in Mental Health First Aid and is also licensed in the US as an Emergency Medical Technician and First Aid, CPR and AED Instructor.

Matt Walsh, who has been an adjunct lecturer at JMSC since 2012, has joined us full-time as a lecturer and is teaching courses in TV news production and anchoring. Matt has been in broadcasting and journalism for more than 35 years, and is also a producer of programmes for the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, and CNN.

Our two new adjunct lecturers this semester are Jane Pong and Annie Zhang Jieping. Jane, who teaches data journalism, is a data visualisation journalist at the Financial Times. She is a co-organiser of the Hong Kong chapter of Hacks/Hackers, an international journalism organisation that brings together journalists and technologists who rethink the future of news and information.

Annie, an alumna of our Master of Journalism programme, is the editor-in-chief of Initium Media. Under her leadership, the publication has won 28 regional journalism awards since it was founded in 2015. Annie was also named Journalist of the Year at the 2010 SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence for her work with Yazhou Zhoukan. Annie co-teaches our "Covering China" course with Keith Richburg.

Selected Articles by Students & Alumni
In this issue, we are featuring work by our current students.

8 January – AFP (via France 24) Bitcoin: Big in Japan, co-written by Ayaka McGill (MJ 2018)

23 January – EJ Insight: International schools a poor preparation for college life in HK, by Amanda Har Jia Yi (Minor in Journalism)

10 January – FTChinese: 数据:中国大城市夜间噪音问题待改善 (In Chinese), by Julianna Wu (MJ 2018)

27 December – FTChinese: 2017年度人物回顾:“警告者”周小川 (In Chinese), co-written by Ziyi Tang (MJ 2018)

29 January – Hong Kong Free Press: Hong Kong’s wheelchair users face many obstructions – even at the best hotels, by Aung Kaung Myat (MJ 2018)

27 January – Hong Kong Free Press: The breadwinner – Why one Hong Kong domestic worker turned to sex work, by Chermaine Lee (MJ 2018)

2 January – Mizzima: Chin women live under a cloud, by Joanne Ma (MJ 2018)

11 December – Mizzima: Law against defamation still used to stifle free speech in Myanmar, activists warn, by Eduard Fernández (MJ 2018)

8 December – Mizzima: Media conference discusses safety of journalists, access to information, by Fatih Isik (MJ 2018)

12-18 January – Nepali Times: A woof of fresh air, by Ryan Heng Chang (MJ 2018)

12-18 January – Nepali Times: With new airport, Pokhara waits for takeoff, by Ziyu Lin (MJ 2018)

25 January – Quartz: Korea’s new hero is a bespectacled 21-year-old taking on Roger Federer, co-written by Hailey Jo (MJ 2018)

11 January  – Quartz: Singapore will keep jailing people without a trial—but it’ll be more transparent, by Suhas Bhat (MJ 2018)

30 January – Sixth Tone: Out of her hands: Trials and trauma of a blind masseuse, by Joyce Siu (MJ 2018)

Selected Articles by Faculty & Staff

4 February – Hong Kong Free Press: Journalism denied: How China views facts, fairness, transparency and objectivity in reporting, by David Bandurski

31 January – Small Wars Journal: Buzz Kill, by Kevin Sites

27 January – South China Morning Post: China may crow as US shuts down, but death of the West is greatly exaggerated, by Keith B. Richburg

12 January – Nikkei Asian Review: Trump's 'war on media' reverberates in Asia, by Keith B. Richburg

11 January – Initium Media: 傅景華:AI淘汰人類?末日論以外的另類思考 (In Chinese), by King-wa Fu

12 December – South China Morning Post: Conservation in Hong Kong: citizen scientists enlisted to record and safeguard city’s amazing biodiversity, by Marianne Bray

3 November 2017 – MCOT, [Make] Sure and Share (In Thai): There is no 'cure' for our fake news problems, but there are 'remedies', by Masato Kajimoto

Coming up this month

The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative is holding a symposium, "Women Make Docs", on 6 February featuring four award-winning filmmakers who will share their experiences across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Register here.

Dr. Masato Kajimoto will be speaking about communications literacy at the "Building a safe online environment for children” conference organized by the International Institute of Communications in Bangkok, Thailand, on 8 February.

In collaboration with the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the HKDI will be hosting a master class given by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog in March. The HKDI will announce details about the event at a free screening of his latest film, Into the Inferno. February. Sign up here for tickets.