Monthly newsletter: December 2018

Message from Keith

After a year of some depressing developments on the press freedom front, let me leave you this last newsletter note before the holiday break with some rare good news for journalism. In fact, I could call it great news.

First, at the start of December, The Washington Post, my old alma mater, announced it was opening a new foreign bureau to cover West Africa, most likely based in Dakar, Senegal, while also adding a new Asian editor to Hong Kong to be responsible for coordinating news from Asia while the U.S. is still asleep. These moves come on top of putting new correspondents in Hong Kong and Rome, showing that the Post, under new owner Jeff Bezos, is doubling down on journalism and expanding the paper’s foreign operations.

Likewise, the venerable Los Angeles Times, under its new owner, billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong, announced the opening of a new bureau in Singapore, and the reopening of its dormant bureau in Seoul.

After so many years of seeing news organizations shutter foreign bureaus and scale back global coverage, these new developments are heartening evidence of a turnaround. It seems that newspapers’ new deep-pocketed owners may be ready to help resuscitate an industry ravaged by the advent of the internet and the collapse of the old ad-based publishing model.

And at the end of November came the exciting news that Australian philanthropist and art collector Judith Neilson planned to donate A$100 million (HK$560 million) to a new journalism institute to support fact-based journalism through targeted grant and education programmes. We at JMSC look forward to exploring ways to partner with the new Sydney-based Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

In announcing the new initiative, Neilson said, “Journalism doesn’t just need critics, it needs champions—people and institutions with the resources to help educate, encourage and connect journalists and their audience in pursuit of excellence.”

Well said.  At a time when it has become popular to decry “fake news” and criticise the press, seeing people with resources putting money into journalism leaves me confident about the future.  As we approach the Christmas season, with Chinese New Year just around the corner, that should give us all a bit of holiday good cheer.

Keith Richburg
Director of the JMSC


Congratulations to the Class 2018! This year, 30 Bachelor of Journalism and 61 Master of Journalism students graduated from our programmes. Jeff Timmermans, Associate Professor of Practice, presented the candidates at the 200th Congregation of the Faculty

of Social Sciences that was held on 3 December. Around 80 JMSC graduates attended and collected their diplomas at the ceremony. Photos courtesy of Mary Lee (top) Sida Wang (bottom).
Our newly minted journalism grads were back at Eliot Hall that evening to celebrate with faculty and staff. Many are already working in the field here in Hong Kong and abroad. We look forward to the great work they will be doing in coming years.
The annual Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) Student Prize Presentation Ceremony was held on 24 November to recognize students for prizes and scholarships they had received in the past academic year. Director Keith Richburg presented certificates to seven of our students who were in town to attend. Details here. Photo courtesy of FOSS.

We held our annual info session for the Master of Journalism programme at Eliot Hall on 5 December for prospective candidates. Kevin Sites, director of the programme, was on hand to answer questions from the participants, who were later given a news broadcasting demo in our studio by Matt Walsh.

Professor Zhan Jiang, one of China’s leading experts on journalism and communication, gave a talk on 19 November at HKU about the question of media corruption on Mainland China. The talk was organized by the China Media Project.

Ruby Yang, project director of the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative, moderated a Q&A session with German documentarian Uli Gaulke after the screening of his film Comrades In Dream on 2 November. The event was part of the master class with the filmmaker organized

by the HKDI along with partners Goethe-Institut Hong Kong and HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Uli gave a three-day workshop on "Story Development for A Short Documentary" for 25 emerging documentary filmmakers.
Videos of HKDI's various programmes this past year, including Master Classes with Oscar Documentarians 2018 and Dialogue with Filmmakers 2018, are now online. Click on the links to view.
Student & Alumni News

Two of our recent graduates were honoured at this year's State Street Institutional Press Awards, Asia Pacific. Ernest Chan (MJ 2017) was named "Best Newcomer" for his piece, "Investing amid uncertainty", for AsianInvestor. Suhas Bhat (MJ 2018), whose winning piece was for The CorporateTreasurer, was also recognized for his work in the same category. Photo courtesy of Ernest Chan.

The majority of our Master of Journalism students and a number of undergraduates are off on internships during the winter break. We will be tracking their progress in the coming weeks. Some of their published work so far are up on our website here.

Faculty & Staff News

Dr. King-wa Fu talks about China's approach to information control--especially manipulating public opinion--and the work that he and the WeChatscope team are doing to track censorship on social media in China in the latest issue of the HKU Bulletin. Read it here.

JMSC is co-organizing with the Society for Hong Kong Studies a 10-workshop series on using the programming language Python in big data research. The workshops will be taught by Yuner Junior Zhu, a PhD candidate at JMSC, and supervised by Dr. King-wa Fu. Details here.

Keith Richburg moderated the session, "Security in the Asia Pacific", on 15 November at AsiaGlobal Dialogue 2018, an annual forum organized by the Asia Global Institute. Video by Asia Global Institute.
JMSC in the news
13 November – South China Morning Post: ‘Winter has come’: Chinese social media stunned as nearly 10,000 accounts shut down
22 November – Thomson Reuters Foundation: Pig out? Asia gets a taste of climate-friendly ‘pork’, Marianne Bray
29 November – NBC News: Chinese researcher says he is ‘proud’ of gene-editing twins, Bryan Michael Galvin (MJ 2019) contributed
2 December – South China Morning Post: Hong Kong teens aim to break out of poverty through music in concert showcasing talent, by Fiona Sun (MJ 2019)
4 December – TIME: You can now turn on scrolling live captions when you make a Skype call, Supriya Batra (MJ 2019)
4 December – #legend: Banksy's Dismaland boat sculpture is going for £2, by Renuka Kennedy (MJ 2019)
7 December – Quartz: Why China’s wealthiest generation identifies with the words “dirt-poor” and “ugly”, by Kari Lindberg (2019)