Monthly newsletter: April 2018

Message from Keith

It’s not exactly a breakup, but it does seem like our intense, decade-long love affair with social media may finally be starting to fade. A little less starry-eyed passion, and a little more realism, is probably a good thing.

Over the years, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and mobile apps like WhatsApp and WeChat have created an obsession with sharing—or over-sharing—our every mood, hang-up, hook-up or breakup. Search engines like Google have placed every tidbit of obscure information, historical factoid, every recipe or medical remedy, entirely at our fingertips. And e-commerce has made shopping for virtually anything as accessible as a couple of keystrokes.

But all that tapping, searching, shopping and sharing has created a trove of personal data on all of us. Your friends, your favourite foods, your political leanings, the brands you buy and the music you listen to are all out there and available for advertisers, or others with more nefarious purposes, to mine, unless steps are taken to protect it.

It took the Cambridge Analytica scandal, involving some 50 million Facebook users having their data wrongly harvested by a political consulting firm working on behalf of Donald Trump, to shake consumers out of their complacency. Many are starting to realise what they should have considered all along: What you share or search on the Internet should not necessarily be assumed as private.

Maybe it was because I worked as a correspondent in Beijing that I always assumed email was being monitored, cell phone calls could be listened to and text messages might be tracked. In Beijing, if I wanted to have a private conversation with my news assistant, we had it walking through the parking lot on the way to Starbucks. If you met a dissident or a human rights lawyer in a coffee shop, you left your cell phone in the car, so it would not be turned into a remote listening device. You interviewed people in person, not by email.

People, and governments, are now getting smarter. The Australian Defence Department in March banned personnel from downloading the Chinese-owned WeChat app onto their phones, citing concerns over possible spyware. The Indian government did the same last December. The European Union has imposed new privacy rules for individuals to go into effect in May. And users everywhere are rushing to check, and in many cases tighten, their privacy settings.

The heightened privacy concern is long overdue. But we also have to be careful not to go overboard. The fledgling #DeleteFacebook movement seems to me a gross overreaction. Social media has become an integral part of our lives. For us at JMSC, it has also become a teaching too—we create Facebook groups for our classes and assignments. More readers now get their news from Facebook than from the website of The Washington Post.

Everyone needs to be more conscious of protecting their online information, and that is particularly true of journalists who must keep protecting confidential sources, alongside truth telling, as their highest priority. Just like we operated in Beijing, reporters need to do as much face-to-face interviewing and on-the-ground reporting as possible. They need to use the encryption tools available to shield their information and sources.

So keep posting those selfies and baby pictures. But if you want something to stay private, best keep it offline. And if you don’t want your personal information tracked, ditch the e-commerce site, get off the couch, and walk to a store to make that purchase. And make sure to pay in cash.

Keith Richburg
Director of the JMSC

The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative kicked off its annual Dialogue with Filmmakers series with legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog on 21 March. Mr. Herzog answered questions from a full house at the Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre and from an
audience in Taipei. The event was presented in collaboration with the Hong Kong International Film Festival and Goethe-Institut Hongkong, with the live broadcast made possible by Initium Media. Watch the whole event here.
JMSC director Keith Richburg and Kevin Sites, director of the Master of Journalism programme, caught up with our alumni in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively, while there to interview candidates for the 2018-2019 class.
They also took the opportunity to discuss the establishment of regional alumni chapters with our graduates. As part of this campaign, alumni chapters will be able to nominate outstanding local candidates for the master's programme and to support their nominees by helping raise funds for scholarships.
Student & Alumni News
Ko Swe Win, editor-in-chief of Myanmar Now and 2009 Master of Journalism graduate, was honoured with this year's Schuman Award for Human Rights by the European Union in Myanmar along with activists Cheery Zahau and Daw Khin Than Htwe.
The three recipients were recognised for their work in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in Myanmar. (Top: Ko Swe Win giving his acceptance speech Bottom: with fellow awardees Daw Khin Than Htwe and Cheery Zahau. Photos courtesy of the European Union in Myanmar)
Two JMSC students took part in the annual Cultural Journalism Campus Fellowship that takes place at Art Basel in Hong Kong. Lexie Ma, who is in her final year of undergraduate studies, and Master of Journalism student Carmel Yang were among 10 CJC fellows who received hands-on media training through the production of the newspaper Culture Express that was distributed at the international art fair.
Faculty & Staff News
Dr. King-wa Fu and the Weiboscope team were featured in a number of recent reports, including Columbia Journalism Review and Nieman Lab, about increased online censorship following the proposal by the Chinese Communist Party to abolish the two-term limit for president and subsequent approval by the National People's Congress.
Dr. King-wa Fu gave a talk titled "From Internet censorship on mainland China to Internet freedom of expression in Hong Kong" at the Hong Kong Journalists Association's 9th Annual Kam Yiu-yu Press Freedom Awards on 17 March at the University of Hong Kong.
The JMSC news literacy team headed by Masato Kajimoto, along with PhD candidate Samantha Stanley (MJ 2017), has launched a series of research articles that provide an overview of what is known about the scale and impact of disinformation in different Asian countries in collaboration with media researchers and journalists in the region. Learn more about this research project in an introductory piece by Masato on our website.
Selected Work by Students

5 March – Forbes: First solar, then soy? China's move to buy Brazilian soybeans over U.S. could worsen trade tensions, by Marisa Lee (MJ 2018)

8 March – ChinaFile: Weibo Whack-a-Mole: The most-censored events on Chinese social media, by King-wa Fu, Channing Huang (MJ 2017), and Kylin Zhang (MJ 2018)

10 March – The Peak: Hong Kong must shut door on illicit trade in antiquities before it can emerge as global art hub, by Eduard Fernández (MJ 2018)

25 March  – South China Morning Post: Selfies with armed guerillas: holidays in Myanmar off the beaten track, by Eduard Fernández (MJ 2018)

30 March – Hong Kong Free Press: A new type of aerial beach yoga… with a Hong Kong twist, by Sida Wang (MJ 2018)

Selected Work by Faculty & Staff

5 March – HK01:【來稿】致特區政府:有關如何推動香港的紀錄片發展建議 (In Chinese, [Contributor] "Letter to the HKSAR Government: Proposals on promoting the development of documentary filmmaking in Hong Kong"), by Ruby Yang

14 March – Poynter: In East and Southeast Asia, misinformation is a visible and growing concern, by Masato Kajimoto

14 March – Poynter: A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world, with reporting by Masato Kajimoto

16 March – The Washington Post: The dreams, hopes and everyday lives of China’s people, by Keith B. Richburg

Coming up
The Hong Kong Documentary Initiative is planning a full day of basketball exchange on 9 April between ethnic minorities from Hong Kong and the Tibetan Plateau in conjunction with the premiere of Ruby Yang's latest film, Ritoma. Former nomads who are featured in the film will be in Hong Kong to share their stories and passion for basketball with students and ethnic minorities. The day will be capped off with a friendly match between the Ritoma players and the HKU Men's Basketball Team. Details here.
The South China Morning Post and JMSC are co-hosting the first international infographics event in Hong Kong organized by the Society for News Design. The SND Hong Kong Infographic Summit (13 April) is a unique opportunity for both professionals and students to meet and learn from some of the best infographics minds in around the world. The weekend workshop (14-15 April) that will be held at Eliot Hall is full, but spots are still available for the Friday summit. Register here.

JMSC alumni and faculty members will be speaking at this year's FCC Journalism Conference, "Reporting Asia - from Rocket Man to Rohingya" to be held on 14 April. They include Masato Kajimoto, Natasha Khan (MJ 2011), Eric Wishart, and Annie Zhang (MJ 2006). Programme details here.

Kees Metselaar is collaborating with the Foreign Correspondents' Club Hong Kong to exhibit street photography by our students in recent years as part of a group show. The exhibit is open to the public and will be on display on the Van Es Photo Wall in the Main Bar the first half of May. More information will soon be available on the FCC website.

We will again be hosting the N3Con: New Now Next Media Conference this year. The annual event is organized by the Asia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and will be held at HKU from 25-27 May. Journalists from the region and the US will take part in discussions about the current Asian news landscape from the vantage point of "East meets West", and how journalists can get ahead of the tech disruption in media. Details here.