Monthly newsletter: February 2020

Message from Keith

Greetings. and apologies for the delay in getting you this newsletter. We normally come back from the semester break with a new bulletin of activities and best wishes for the Lunar New Year. But the advent of a new cycle and the dawn of the Year of the Rat has been overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak, and the continuing global health crisis.

This health emergency has hugely impacted us here in Hong Kong and at the JMSC, including disrupting our carefully planned spring semester. The University, out of an abundance of caution and a concern for the safety of all students and staff, has decided to suspend face-to-face teaching through the month of March. We hope that order can be lifted as expeditiously as possible, while keeping everyone safe, so we can return to our normal plans and schedule.

But suspending on campus teaching does not mean the learning has stopped. 

At JMSC, with our technical expertise and our television studio, we believe we are at the leading edge of providing lively virtual classrooms, using some of the modern platforms for videoconferencing and screen sharing, like Zoom. While we hope to resume normal teaching by the end of March if not before, we are also holding teaching sessions for all our students in virtual classrooms. We have had lectures, guest speakers and breakout discussion groups online. And the initial feedback suggests students appreciate the continued engagement and dynamic sessions, even while recognising, like we do, that online learning is not the same as being here.

We do not intend to become a correspondence school, and one of the benefits of JMSC is that aspiring journalists get quality time with experienced instructors in small classes with lots of personal attention and feedback. But this experience has also shown that there might we ways to integrate the available technology more into our programme in the future, especially for some lectures, so that more classroom time can be devoted to the things that count most—individual instruction, hands on skills building, and spirited interaction with instructors, fellow students and guest speakers.

None of what we are doing now would be possible without our incredibly hardworking and tireless technical team, including our TV studio manager Kar Lok Koo, Technical Officer Roy Ching, Web producer Foon Lee, IT Technologist Horatius Li and all our unsung heroes, our dedicated teaching assistants who have had to transform themselves overnight into videoconferencing experts. They and all the staff are the backbone of our programme.

As our planned public activities have been postponed until further notice, we will be back later with an update.

Keith Richburg
Director of the JMSC


Five JMSC students shared their experiences about the anti-extradition bill protests in the latest issue of The Correspondent, the official publication of the Foreign Correspondents' Club Hong Kong. They wrote about "what the unrest has revealed to them and how their lives have been changed".

The writers are Hongkongers Joy Pamnani and Michelle Wong, both in their final year of the Bachelor of Journalism programme; Master of Journalism students from mainland China Yang Ziyu and Lucy Zhang; and Diego Mendoza, an undergraduate exchange student from the United States. Read their accounts here.

As part of our recruitment drive for next year's crop of Master of Journalism candidates, we held two live admissions webinar for applicants abroad on 17 December and 10 January. Programme director Matt Walsh, current students and the admissions team answered questions in a live chat format. A recap of the December session can be viewed here.

Student & Alumni News
As in years past, the majority of our Master of Journalism students took advantage of their winter break to pursue internships in Hong Kong and overseas. They were placed in 39 organizations, including locations in Beijing, Kathmandu, Kunming, London, Seoul, Shanghai, and Yangon.
We held our customary sharing session on 21 January for the master's students that was well attended by their classmates. Pictured here are Tina He, who was at Caixin in Beijing along with Zhao Zuoyan, Sarah Li and Ryan Zhang, and Anna Savelyeva, who interned at APV in Hong Kong.

Congratulations to Yvonne Tong (BJ 2013) whose RTHK documentary In the Prisons that Don’t Exist was nominated for Best News Program at the Venice TV Award 2019. Yvonne was the producer of the 46-min documentary on the RTHK current affairs programme The Pulse that covered the detention of more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in the re-education camps in Xinjiang, China. Link to the three-part documentary here.

Yannie Chan Sin Yan (BJ 2013) recently had a book about the intricate world of Chinese tea published by Man Mo Media. Tea is for Everyone: Making Chinese Tea Accessible is "a comprehensive and comprehensible take on a vast and complicated but endlessly fascinating subject". More about the book here.

Faculty & Staff News
Keith Richburg moderated the Plenary Dialogue 1: "Changing Major Powers Relationship: China’s Role in Today’s Global Order" at the AsiaGlobal Dialogue 2019 that was held on 13 November at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center. Click on the thumbnail to view the panel discussion.
Ross Settles has been named an advisor to the Global Investigative Journalism Network for media sustainability. GIJN's online resource centre recently published an introduction article by Ross for investigative media startups about commercial revenue strategies. He also recorded a video with tips on how to make investigative journalism sustainable. Click on thumbnail to watch.
JMSC in the news
(6 December) The Economist 1843: Writing on the wall: a tour of Hong Kong’s protest graffiti, by Eduardo Baptista (MJ 2020)
(15 December) South China Morning Post: Censored by China, deleted social media posts live on in Hong Kong (King-wa Fu)
(16 December) NHK World: Social media tearing Hong Kong further apart (Annie Lab & Masato Kajimoto)
(6 January) South China Morning Post: Anorexia: why Asia isn’t talking about this mental illness, and the survivors and therapists battling ignorance of the eating disorder, by Nina Milhaud (MJ 2020)
(8 January) Nikkei Asian Review: Hong Kong's port grapples with slow shift to automation, by Eduardo Baptista (MJ 2020)
(23 January) South China Morning Post: Bird flu, Sars, China coronavirus. Is history repeating itself?, by Keith B. Richburg
(5 February) Abacus: How WeChat and Weibo fight coronavirus fake news (Masato Kajimoto)
(5 February) Financial Times: China slams shut its small window for online criticism (King-wa Fu)
(5 February) The New York Times: As China clamps down on negative news, quarantines on land and sea (King-wa Fu)
(7 February) Fortune: Whistleblower doctor’s death stirs an online rebellion against China’s coronavirus response (King-wa Fu)
Coming up

We will be holding an open day for prospective Bachelor of Journalism candidates at Eliot Hall on 14 May where faculty and current students will be on hand to answer questions about the programme. Prospective students will also have the opportunity to produce a live 10-min news show in our broadcast studio at Eliot Hall, giving them a taste of the type of experiential learning activities that are at the core of our programme. Details here.