N3Con 2018 MAY 24-27 ISSUE 3
The official magazine for
NEW • NOW• NEXT
E H IN T
S C I S A A R B E E H T L A T I G I D
018 AY 2
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: The m orge e alis G rian to journ h e h C c e spee leng c h a l by h at e d pose
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Contents 4 Conference schedule 6 Venue map 7 President’s letter K. Oanh Ha on rethinking how we approach newsgathering, storytelling, and new economic models required to sustain our professional mission. 8 #RethinkingNews #Asia The time has come to reimagine and reinvent what we do in media, from gathering news to distributing it and financially supporting it.
9-21 Panels, workshops and events
Newsrooms of the future, dealing with government pressure, terrorism coverage, digital storytelling, reaching Asian millennials, freelancing in the gig economy, leadership, mentoring, and more.
Events: Networking and mentoring sessions offer channels to advance your career. 20 Gala awards night Keynote by Sree Sreenivasan, with Silent Auction and StorySlam.
22-29 Cover stories 22 The Basics Scott Duke Harris on bedrock journalism values in the digital era. 28 Millennials Trinna Leong on the next generation of journalists and readers.
62 Covering the South China Sea
31-45 Focus Asia 31 Press freedom index 32 Focus Asia Battles for press freedom and quality continue across Asia. 32 Australia Battle of the super powers; should journalists pay the price? 33 Cambodia A loss of faith after the government’s disruption of three media outlets. 34 China Ten jailed citizen-journalists. 35 Hong Kong FactWire and Free Press provide independent news. 38 Japan Waseda Chronicle and investigative reporting. AI and robo-journalism.
37 Indonesia A new fake news threat. 40 Korea What will it take to improve independent press in South Korea? 41 Malaysia The first person has been charged and found guilty under its Anti-Fake News Act. 41 Myanmar Fixers amid media hostility. 42 Philippines Rappler’s uphill battle. 43 Singapore A turbulent year for media. 44 Taiwan Declining trust in news media. 45 Vietnam New English-language podcast wants to bring lively debate. 3
46-65 Perspective 46 Investigative journalism and speaking truth to power in Asia 48 Freelancing and the gig economy 50 The challenge to journalism posed by hate speech 52 The promise of data journalism 54 The possibilities of blockchain 55 That burning mid-career question: What’s next? 56 China and WeChat 58 Digital hacks 59 Covering #MeToo and sexual misconduct in the workplace 60 Faye D’Souza, a rising star in Indian media 62 Covering the South China Sea from the ground 64 Digital Journalism student awards
SCHEDULE Plenary Beat Skill N3ConU and student events
DAY 0 | THURSDAY, MAY 24 9:00 - 5:00pm Executive Newsroom Tour
9:00 - 5:00pm Google News Lab Training Network powered by AAJA-Asia
9:00 - 5:00pm N3ConU Newsroom Tour
Welcome Social at Google
5:30 - 7:30pm
DAY 1 | FRIDAY MAY 25 Meng Wah T2 (Plenary)
Meng Wah T1
Meng Wah T3
8:00 - 12:50pm 8:30 - 12:30pm Investigative Reporting: Finding the Story in Data (T2)
9:00 - 9:50pm Mentor Match: Coffee Chat (T1)
10:00 - 1:00pm Resume Doctor Mentor Match: Meet Your Mentor (T3)
10:00 - 11:00pm N3ConU Orientation (T1) 11:30 - 1:00pm Curiosity, Adventure and Love: Documentary Screening and Q&A by Sunshine de Leon (T1) Lunch
11:00 - 12:50pm
12:45 - 1:00pm 1:00 - 2:00pm
Keynote Fireside Chat with Gary Liu (T2)
2:00 - 2:10pm
2:10 - 3:10pm 3:10 - 3:30pm
#RethinkingNews: Building Newsrooms of the Future (T2)
3:30 - 4:30pm Sponsored Content & Creating Ethical Revenue Streams (T2) 4:30 - 5:00pm
5:00 - 6:00pm Plenary - Rethinking North Korea (T2) 7:00 - 9:00pm
Coffee break/Networking 3:30 - 4:30pm #MeToo: Covering Sexual Misconduct and Social Movements (T1) Coffee break/Networking 5:00 - 6:00pm Harnessing Your Vocal Power [Workshop] (T1) VIP Reception at Bloomberg
3:30 - 4:30pm Seize Your Dream Job [Workshop] (T3)
SCHEDULE Plenary Beat Skill N3ConU and student events
DAY 2 | SATURDAY, MAY 26 |
Meng Wah T2 (Plenary)
Meng Wah T1
Shum Reading Room
Broadcast Mastery (T1)
8:15 - 9:15am
8:30-9:30am Resume Doctor / Mentor Match: Meet Your Mentor
8:30 - 9:30am Registration / Coffee / Breakfast / Networking 9:30 - 10:30am
Covering Politics: Dealing with Government Pressure (T2) Coffee break/Networking
10:30 - 11:00am 11:00 - 12:00pm Native vs Foreign: Challenges in International Reporting (T2)
11:00 - 12:00pm The New Storytelling: Vertical Videos to Engage the Thumb [Workshop] (T1)
12:00 - 1:00pm Career Conversations
12:00 - 1:00pm Lunch / Networking
1:00 - 2:00pm Reaching Asian Millennials (T2)
1:00 - 2:00pm Investigative Reporting: Finding the Story in Data, Short Version (T1) Coffee break/Networking
2:00 - 2:30pm 2:30 - 3:30pm Innovating Digital Storytelling (T2)
2:30 - 3:30pm Inside the Bitcoin Craze (T1) Coffee break/Networking
3:30 - 4:00pm 4:00 - 5:00pm Reporting Terrorism in Our Backyard (T2)
5:00 - 5:30pm 6:30 - 9:00pm
4:00 - 5:00pm Freelance in the Digital Era (T1)
Gala Awards Night, Silent Auction, #StorySlam
DAY 3 | SUNDAY, MAY 27 Bloomberg 9:00 - 5:00pm Leadership Workshop
9:00 - 5:00pm Mobile Journalism Workshop
9:30-12:30 pm Podcast Workshop
MENG WAH COMPLEX
Chong Yuet Ming Amenities Centre
TRANSPORTATION TO HKU BY BUS
Take either No. 23, 40, 40M from Admiralty outside Pacific Place or No. 4, 7, 91 from Exchange Square at Central. Get off in front Run Run Shaw Building
of the East Gate on Bonham Road or the West Gate in front of Haking Wong Building on Pokfulam Road. BY MTR
HKU Station Exit A2 Elevator Lobby East Gate Bonham Road Entrance
Walk from HKU Station (Exit A2) and take the elevator to the Upper Level of University Street. BY TAXI
From Admiralty or Central to Cotton Tree
West Gate Pukfulam Road Entrance
Drive to Robinson Road to Kotewall Road. Turn right onto University Drive.
N3Con is organized by AAJA-Asia
K. Oanh Ha AAJA-Asia president STIR Public Relations, N3Con executive producer
Executive Committee K. Oanh Ha, chair Tom Benner Zela Chin Eunice Kim Joon-Nie Lau Youkyung Lee Carla Sapsford Newman Chelsea Phua Isabel Wong
Holly Chik Chiew Chung Angie Lau Carina Lee Yuri Nagano Joe Pan Elaine Ramirez
Programming Committee Youkyung Lee, co-chair Isabel Wong, co-chair Zela Chin K. Oanh Ha Cindy Koh Joon-Nie Lau Dominica Lim Yuri Nagano Joe Pan JP Reimann
Chiew Chung Jay Hartwell Angie Lau Jihye Lee Marian Liu Carla Sapsford Newman Chelsea Phua Elaine Ramirez
Joe Pan, marketing chair Eunice Kim, social media chair Tom Benner, magazine editor Carla Sapsford Newman, member communications manager
Holly Chik, co-chair Joy Pamnani, co-chair Mark Zastrow , volunteer manager Chiew Chung Rebecca Isjwara Elaine Ramirez Isabel Wong
Nayantara Bhat Angie Chan Jovelyn Fuego Gavin Huang Joon-Nie Lau Joy Pamnani Robinson William
Suhas Bhat Angela Cheung Holly Chik Rebecca Isjwara Carina Lee Elaine Ramirez
Sponsorship Committee Angie Lau, co-chair Joe Pan, co-chair Zela Chin K. Oanh Ha Joon-Nie Lau Yuri Nagano Carla Newman Chelsea Phua JP Reimann
Student Relations Committee Elaine Ramirez, N3ConU director Holly Chik, student ambassador Joy Pamnani, student ambassador Mark Zastrow , volunteer manager Nayantara Bhat Brolley Genster Jay Hartwell Rebecca Isjwara Eunji Kim Carina Lee Carla Newman JP Reimann
Rethinking and reimagining how we approach newsgathering, storytelling, and new economic models required to sustain our professional mission
s AAJA-Asia kicks off the eighth annual New. Now.Next Media Conference, newsrooms across the world are faced with a call to rethink news. Social media platforms have become publishers. The communications revolution has fueled the spread of falsehoods and disinformation. “Fake news” has become the battle cry in the attack on legitimate journalism. These challenges are demanding we rethink and reimagine how we approach newsgathering, storytelling and new economic models to sustain our professional mission to tell the most important stories of the day, as well as the hidden ones. And because of these changes, it’s critically important to make sure journalists today, as well as the next generation of reporters, are equipped with the latest reporting tools, strategies for storytelling, and fundamental ethical standards to protect and regain public trust. That’s the thinking behind this year’s #RethinkNews #Asia programming. We want to empower reporters and editors with hands-on workshops on investigative and data journalism at a time when many
newsrooms may not have the resources to offer training. We’ll look at the latest innovative practices on digital storytelling. Millennial audiences, the #MeToo movement and diversity in newsrooms are among the topics that we’ll explore. AAJA-Asia is committed to supporting the professionalism of journalists in Asia and diversity in media organizations. We strive to push the sometimes difficult conversations that will hopefully make us better reporters in service of the truth and holding those in corporate and political power to account. It’s time to #RethinkNews #Asia.
In AAJA-Asia spirit,
K. Oanh Ha President, Asia chapter Asian American Journalists Association 7
New. Now. Next.
#RethinkingNews #Asia Suhas Bhat, Sheila Coronel, Mike Fabey, Cherian George, Scott Harris, Cindy Koh, Trinna Leong, Jinyoung Park, Elaine Ramirez, Kevin Sites, Wendy Tang, Stella Wong, and Yohan Yun
The urgent need for investigative journalism in an era of government lies. The challenge to journalists posed by hate speech. The promise of data journalism. The possibilities of blockchain and new business models. Millennials and the next generation of journalists — and readers. The time has come to rethink what we do in media, from gathering news to distributing it and financially supporting it. Social media and artificial intelligence are rapidly changing the way we gather and share news. As soon as we master the game of today’s news, the rules have already changed.
The New. Now. Next Media Conference, hosted by the Asia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association, discusses how to beat the game. N3Con features lively discussions on the latest issues in media and hands-on workshops to show what’s new in storytelling for the digital era—and how you can master it. #RethinkingNews #Asia is N3Con’s eighth installment. N3Con 2018 aims to support the professionalism of journalists in the Asia-Pacific region and to prepare the next generation of journalists with a solid foundation that will allow them to evolve no matter how the technology changes.
N3Con 2018 MAY 24-27 ISSUE 3
N3Con 2018 MAY 24-27 ISSUE 3
The official magazine for
NEW • NOW• NEXT
The official magazine for
NEW• NOW• NEXT LIV E
WRITERS Suhas Bhat Sheila Coronel Mike Fabey Scott Harris Cindy Koh Trinna Leong Elaine Ramirez Kevin Sites Wendy Tang Yohan Yun
Cherian George Jinyoung Park Stella Wong
DESIGN DIRECTOR Georgia Scott
ILLUSTRATORS Sanghamitra Dasgupta Yieng Cassandra Lee
EDITORS Frances Fernandes Jay Hartwell
SPONSORSHIP DIRECTORS Joe Pan
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tom Benner FOUNDING EDITOR Elaine Ramirez
STIR Public Relations
SPECIAL THANKS Holly Chik Rebecca Isjwara Carla Sapsford Newman Alan Soon, The Splice Newsroom Surekha Yadav, Mark Goonewardene and Dharini Udugama, REDHILL Asia Maria Wood, Bloomberg News
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ares d sh s an values clic k m eed, urnalis jo for sp and bedrock em d g inin wing Gro under m risks
N3 2018 C1-Cover 180511.indd 1
Gavin Huang Adrian Leung
IN TH S C I AS L E R A THE B TA DIGI
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s: Si te y Ke vin nc ing on om Fre ela e gig ec th an d
Cover art by Edmund Ip
12/5/2018 9:36 AM
Panels Thursday, May 24 09:00 - 17:00
Participating newsrooms: AFP, Bloomberg, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, Reuters, South China Morning Post
Executive Newsroom Tours
This tour designed for media professionals brings you behind the closed doors of leading news organizations. Get a rare glimpse into how they put out the news day by day, hour by hour, on news cycles that are getting impossibly shorter and shorter. Find out what drives their coverage and unravel the mysteries of how editorial decisions are made. This is your chance to ask top editors and journalists the questions you’ve always wanted to ask!
09:00 - 17:00
Participating newsrooms: Coconuts Media, Quartz, CNN
Newsroom Tour Designed especially for students, the tour day starts off with meetings with two media start-ups: Coconuts Media and Quartz to learn about how these digitalonly publications navigate the editorial and commercial challenges posed by the new media landscape. After lunch, students will head south to Wong Chuk Hang to visit CNN’s brand new newsroom to see how the global broadcast giant is evolving and engaging new audiences. Whether you are a local student from Hong Kong or the Chinese mainland, or a foreign student attending N3Con for the first time, you’ll be surprised by just how much goes into the production of daily news and marvel at the various editorial innovations spearheaded by these newsrooms.
09:00 - 17:00
Google’s office, Level 25, Tower 2, Times Square, 1 Matheson St, Causeway Bay
Google News Lab Training Network Fifteen candidates have been selected to participate in the Google News Lab Training Network workshop, run in conjunction with N3Con. The full-day workshop equips participants to use Google tools more effectively to research stories, track sources and break news. They will become a Google News Lab-certified trainer, able to conduct similar training workshops for their newsrooms. They will also have the opportunity, under the direction of AAJA-Asia and Google News Lab, to conduct workshops in their home country, and receive a stipend each time they do it!
17:30 - 19:30
IRENE JAY LIU Lead, Asia-Pacific Region, Google News Lab
Google’s office, Level 25, Tower 2, Times Square, 1 Matheson St, Causeway Bay
Thursday Night Social 9
Are you in Hong Kong a day early? Kickstart the party by networking with journalists, VIPs and N3Con supporters. Google, a longtime sponsor of AAJA-Asia, hosts an evening of food, drinks and unending chat about journalism. Share your newfound insights from the Newsroom Tour and Google News Lab with people from your favorite industry.
New. Now. Next.
Panels Friday, May 25 08:30 - 12:30
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Investigative Reporting: Finding the Story in Data Investigative stories are becoming increasingly cross-border, and Asia is fertile ground for deep dives. Dealing with a lack of public records and facing authoritarian governments in countries across our region, we must #rethink how we approach investigative reporting. Data is a crucial element in investigative journalism, but accessing and processing data particularly in developing countries remains a challenge. This workshop delves into available public records, teaches how to access them and shares best practices in working with sources while protecting them amid risky environments. Bring your laptop loaded with a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
Speakers KUANG KENG KUEK SER Data Journalist and Trainer, Data-N
MARK HORVIT Associate Professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism
Explore our new
Data Journalism program, the dual degree in Journalism & Computer Science or The Lede summer certification program in computational journalism. Get hands-on training on how to extract, analyze, visualize data, become versed in computational journalism to tell cutting-edge, data-driven stories and build investigative skills. Learn more: journalism.columbia.edu/data.
Apply for the new Nikkei, Inc., $100,000 scholarship for a student from Asia, or other financial assistance for students from anywhere in the world. More at journalism.columbia.edu/admissions or email@example.com. 10
Panels Friday, May 25
09:00 - 09:50
Meng Wah T1, HKU
Mentor Match: Coffee Talk N3ConU Mentor Match is a new program that takes mentoring to the next level, providing a year-long program for pairs to foster a deeper, more holistic mentoring relationship. Mentors and mentees, who are paired by location, medium, experience level and other factors, have the opportunity to meet at N3Con. With career coaches Dominica Lim and Ron Brown, program participants workshop what they want out of the experience and how to get it. Interested in participating next year? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hosts DR. RON BROWN Founder and President, Banks Brown
DOMINICA LIM International Consultant and Coach
10:00 - 11:00
Meng Wah T1, HKU
N3ConU launches this year to fuse programming, tours, socials and mentoring for the ultimate student experience. All undergraduate and graduate students—and any firsttime participants—are invited to an interactive icebreaker orientation that highlights key programming, networking tips and practice, and other advice on how to get the most out of N3Con.
10:00 - 12:30
Meng Wah T3, HKU
Resume Doctor (1)
In 15-minute speed-consulting rounds, mentors review mentees’ resumes and other materials such as website or reel and help them understand how to target their next career goal. Drop-ins accepted if spots remain. Bring your resume.
10:00 - 12:30
Meng Wah T3, HKU
Mentor Match: Meet Your Mentor (1) Participants of the new N3ConU Mentor Match have the opportunity to meet individually and discuss their mentoring goals. Interested in participating next year? Email email@example.com.
New. Now. Next.
Panels Friday, May 25 11:30 - 13:00
Meng Wah T1, HKU
Curiosity, Adventure & Love: Documentary Screening and Q&A “Curiosity, Adventure & Love” is the debut film of Manilabased journalist Sunshine de Leon, depicting the personal story of the director’s 106-year-old American grandmother, who came to the Philippines alone at the age of 18, juxtaposed with the history of the Philippines and its relationship with the U.S. By navigating the unique story and insights from the American woman who was at the epicenter of events that shaped the 20thcentury Philippines, De Leon hopes to inspire audiences to live life with a greater curiosity and more sense of adventure. De Leon has written for international media including the Guardian, Forbes Asia and the Los Angeles Times and has served as a local producer for foreign documentary teams from BBC Radio, the U.S.’ Public Broadcasting Station and others. Join a rare screening for the award-winning documentary that touches on many themes shared by the AAJA community, followed by a Film by conversation with the director on the opportunities and SUNSHINE DE LEON Freelance Journalist and Documentary Producer challenges facing documentary journalists.
12:45 - 13:00 Meng Wah T2, HKU
Meet the new president of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Asia chapter who will announce the official start of the N3Con.
K. OANH HA
13:00 - 14:00 Meng Wah T2, HKU
Keynote Fireside Chat AAJA-Asia welcomes technology leader Gary Liu, CEO of the South China Morning Post, for an intimate fireside chat at N3Con to discuss SCMP’s role in today’s rapidly changing digital media environment. The innovator formerly at Digg and Spotify shares insights on transforming a legacy newspaper company into a global digital leader.
CEO, South China Morning Post
ANGIE LAU Li Ka Shing Foundation/ Horizons Ventures
Panels Friday, May 25 #PLENARY
14:10 - 15:10 Meng Wah T2, HKU
#RethinkingNews: Building Newsrooms of the Future Media organizations are changing at lightning speed, and the ones leading the pack are leveraging technology and social media to find new audiences and revenue streams. Newsrooms are seeking to adopt automation and AI, while striving for the right balance between delivering stories that get clicks and those that edify and inform. For the opening plenary of N3Con 2018, the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top news executives discuss how they are building the newsrooms of the future.
ADRIANA ARAI Asia News Director, Bloomberg News
CAROLYN RYAN Assistant Managing Editor, New York Times
ROGER CLARK Vice President and Hong Kong Bureau Chief, CNN International
K. OANH HA
15:30 - 16:30 Meng Wah T2, HKU
Sponsored Content & Creating Ethical Revenue Streams
Pre-Sale Director, Asia-Pacific, T Brand Studio International
JONATHAN WRIGHT Global Managing Director, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal
As traditional ad revenues shrink and media giants set up brand studios and content marketing labs, the race is on to invent new story formats and genres that will attract not only readers, but sponsors. At the same time, responsible news publishers must create paid content ethically and tastefully, without diminishing their credibility. Leading news publishers discuss their successes, challenges, and policies to ensure that writers and sponsors do not cross the line in coming up with content that sells.
NICOLA ELIOT Director of Content, APAC, BBC Storyworks
Moderator MELISA IDRIS Presenter, BFM 89.9 Malaysia
New. Now. Next.
Panels Friday, May 25 15:30 - 16:30
Meng Wah T1, HKU
15:30 - 16:30
Meng Wah T3, HKU
Covering Sexual Misconduct and Social Movements
Seize Your Dream Job
From negotiating your salary to handling internal politics and finding your dream job, professional career coach Ron Brown can help you navigate the challenges in and outside the workplace. Learn how to take control by learning the language of power and leadership and gain the best strategies to negotiate from a position of strength. This workshop is made possible with the generous support of Cathay Pacific Airlines.
The revelations of sexual assault and harassment cases and the rise of the #MeToo movement have encouraged thousands of survivors to come forward with their stories. As journalists, we must cover such experiences with sensitivity and empathy, reflect the voices of the silenced, and confront abuses in our own communities. This panel discusses how to approach victims of traumatic experiences, ways to protect sources as well as ourselves, and how to balance these elements fairly.
DR. RON BROWN Founder and President, Banks Brown
17:00 - 18:00
Meng Wah T3, HKU
Harnessing Your Vocal Power
Speakers SELINA CHENG Investigative Reporter, HK01
Journalists are increasingly pushed to work across multiple platforms, so finding your Voice â&#x20AC;&#x201D;literally and figurativelyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;is key to helping you future-proof your career in media. Arthur Samuel Joseph, renowned communication strategist and founder of the Vocal Awareness Institute, guides you on a journey to recognizing and harnessing your authentic Voice. Learn how Vocal Awareness can help you advance your career, improve your relationships, communicate more effectively and authentically, and speak and live with confidence. This workshop is made possible with the generous support of Cathay Pacific Airlines.
JOANNA CHIU Correspondent, Agence France-Presse
YVONNE LEOW National President, Asian American Journalists Association
ARTHUR SAMUEL JOSEPH Founder and Chairman, Vocal Awareness Institute
Reporter, Bloomberg News
Panels Friday, May 25 17:00-18:00
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Rethinking North Korea The historic April summit between the leaders of two Koreas inspired many to #Rethink the war on the Korean Peninsula and the previously little-known North Korean leader. What next? On the heels of the U.S.-South Korea summit and ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit planned for June, journalists covering the Koreas will discuss what this all means to the peninsula and the world and how to humanize the stories of the region’s last remaining diplomatic challenges.
Moderator KEN MORITSUGU Korea and Japan News Director, The Associated Press
19:00 - 21:00 Bloomberg L.P. 25/F, Cheung Kong Centre, 2 Queen’s Road Central, Central
VIP Reception Bloomberg is proud to host the VIP reception at AAJA-Asia’s 8th annual New.Now.Next Media Conference. Come mingle with news leaders, conference speakers, attendees and sponsors. Refreshments and appetizers will be served. Pre-registration required. Please see N3 registration desk for assistance. Presented by
Saturday, May 26 08:15-09:15
Meng Wah T1, HKU
Broadcast Mastery Workshop
Whether a veteran broadcaster, beginner, or somewhere in between, this small group session teaches broadcast pro tips on breathing techniques, vocal warmups, body language tips, the importance of pitch and pace, how to mark up your script, and how to embody your brand so that the viewer or Host the listener is compelled to tune in. Arthur has ARTHUR SAMUEL JOSEPH consulted for over five decades with all major Founder and Chairman, news organizations in the United States. Vocal Awareness Institute
08:30 - 09:20 Shum Reading Room
Resume Doctor (2) In speed-consulting rounds, editors and mentors review mentees’ resumes and other materials such as websites, stories or reel and give advice on how to target your next career goal. Drop-ins accepted if spots remain. Bring your resume.
New. Now. Next.
Panels Saturday, May 26 08:30 - 09:20
Shum Reading Room
CON Mentor Match: Meet Your Mentor (2)
Participants of the new N3ConU Mentor Match will have the opportunity to meet individually and discuss their mentoring goals. Interested in participating next year? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
11:00 - 12:00
09:30 - 10:30
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Covering Politics: Dealing with Government Pressure
Native vs Foreign: Challenges in International Reporting
It is an increasingly uphill battle for political journalists. In recent press freedom indexes, Asia is plummeting in every category. Yet it’s also a golden age for in-depth reporting, given the vast pool of stories out there. Our panelists come from challenging media environments across Asia, but have found coping strategies to unearth stories and thrive. Panel speakers from the U.S., China, Japan and Malaysia discuss the challenges and opportunities they face covering government and politics.
Foreign correspondents serve foreign news audiences and editors who want engaging, relatable narratives, but this challenges reporters who are still unfamiliar with the territory and local point of view. The panel brings together a foreign correspondent, local reporter and veteran of the trade to examine cultural bias in reporting, discuss the growing number of “foreign” correspondents of Asian ancestry and provide tools you can use to broaden your story’s perspective.
IRENE JAY LIU Lead, Asia-Pacific Region, Google News Lab
STEVE HERMAN White House Bureau Chief, Voice of America
JOANNA CHIU China and Mongolia correspondent, Agence France-Presse
GERRY SHIH China Correspondent, The Associated Press
MASATO KAJIMOTO Assistant Professor of Practice, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, HKU
TRINNA LEONG Malaysia Correspondent, The Straits Times
NEIL WESTERN Asia Business Editor, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal
YASUOMI SAWA Senior News Writer, Kyodo News
RICHARD C. PADDOCK Southeast Asia Reporter, The New York Times
RAMY INOCENCIO Anchor and Reporter, Bloomberg TV
Panels Saturday, May 26 11:00 - 12:00
Meng Wah T1, HKU
The New Storytelling: Vertical Videos to Engage the Thumb Snapchat invented it; Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and even Skype have now all adopted it. Stories! The vertical, mobile format dominating social media. Yusuf Omar of Hashtag Our Stories will help you master social publishing and discovery on platforms like Instagram Stories and Snapchat with tips, tricks, and hacks for telling professional stories and reaching younger audiences. Explore the next frontier of storytelling in social VR with him as he demonstrates with his Oculus Rift headset the futuristic Facebook Spaces feature!
12:00 - 13:00
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Career Conversations Newsroom leaders and expert coaches offer advice on how to build a career path to your dream job. This workshop breaks out into small groups to discuss work dilemmas and share ways to navigate internal politics, cultivate sponsors and mentors, ask for what you want and learn how to manage your bosses.
DR. RON BROWN Founder and President, Banks Brown
ANGIE LAU Li Ka Shing Foundation/ Horizons Ventures
YVONNE LEOW National President, Asian American Journalists Association
Moderator K. OANH HA AAJA-Asia President
Trainer YUSUF OMAR Co-founder Hashtag Our Stories
13:00 - 14:00
Meng Wah T1, HKU
Investigative Reporting: Finding the Story in Data (Short Version) Investigative stories are becoming increasingly cross-border, and Asia is fertile ground for deep dives. Dealing with a lack of public records and facing authoritarian governments in countries across our region, we must #rethink how we approach investigative reporting. Data is a crucial element in investigative journalism, but accessing and processing data particularly in developing countries remains a challenge. This workshop is a shorter, condensed version of the four-hour session for those who missed the full version Friday morning. It delves into available public records, teaches how to access them and shares best practices in working with sources while protecting them amid risky environments. Bring your laptop.
Speakers MARK HORVIT Associate Professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism
KUANG KENG KUEK SER Data Journalist and Trainer, Data-N
Moderator CARLA SAPSFORD NEWMAN Freelance Journalist & Public Affairs Consultant
New. Now. Next.
Panels Saturday, May 26 13:00 - 14:00
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Reaching Asian Millennials
Millennials in Asia make up one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer segments, but few outlets have cracked the code for producing stories that matter to them. Leading news organizations and content creators share their strategies on how to engage this hard-to-please audience and keep them loyal.
IAN YEE Deputy Executive Editor and Producer, R.AGE
LAUREL CHOR Producer, VICE Media
YUSUF OMAR Co-founder, Hashtag Our Stories
14:30 - 15:30
ISABELLA STEGER Reporter and Editor, Quartz
Moderator CARINA LEE AAJA-Asia Secretary
14:30 - 15:30
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Meng Wah T1, HKU
#RethinkingCrypto: Inside the Bitcoin Craze
Innovative Digital Storytelling Not all digital journalism is alike, and news outlets must experiment to determine which formats fit their consumers’ demands in an ever-evolving internet landscape. This panel brings together some of Asia’s most innovative digital storytellers to share the formats they have used and lessons learned as they push beyond the confines of traditional print and broadcast.
For fintech, 2017 was the year of cryptocurrencies, defined by Bitcoin once breaching a 20-fold increase. But prices have plummeted in 2018 as South Korea and China are cracking down on the fever, leading to fear, uncertainty and doubt. This panel of industry experts provides insight on the challenges, opportunities and future of cryptocurrencies, blockchain and fintech.
ADRIAN MA Assistant Professor, Ryerson University School of Journalism
JOHN PATRICK MULLIN Managing Director of Research and Business Development, trade.io
DIANA JOU Filmmaker and Photographer, Semi Circle Studio, former Wall Street Journal digital producer
ESMOND LEE Advisor, Euroclear
IAN YEE Deputy Executive Editor and Producer, R.AGE
EVA XIAO Freelance Tech Journalist
ZELA CHIN Principal Reporter/Producer, TVB
ISABEL WONG Multimedia Producer
Panels Saturday, May 26 16:00 - 17:00
Meng Wah T1, HKU
Freelance In The Digital Era In 21st-century journalism, traditional newsrooms are giving way to digital, global teams. Newsrooms are hiring less and stringing more, while journalists are choosing to go freelance for independence and flexibility. Branded content opens doors for writers, while opportunities still abound for great enterprise stories of all mediums. Editors and journalists discuss the risks, hurdles, opportunities and tips to optimize your freelancing career in Asia.
16:00 - 17:00
Meng Wah T2, HKU
Reporting Terrorism in Our Backyard Global headlines may be dominated by ISIS, Al-Qaeda or suicide bombers in places that seem far away, but here in Asia, terrorism in many regions takes on a very human face. Cities great and small may harbor communities sympathetic to terrorism or extremism, and the reasons are often more complicated than we think. Panelists share how they cover this dangerous and sometimes deadly beat, getting to the source of the conflict and breaking down stereotypes to reveal the reality of terrorism at our doorstep.
Speakers PAGGIE LEUNG Region Head, Telum Media
Speakers RICHARD C. PADDOCK Southeast Asia Reporter, The New York Times
ERIN HALE Correspondent, Deutsche Presse-Agentur
PAOLO BOSONIN Head of Video - Asia, Wall Street Journal
TOM BENNER Freelance Journalist, Singapore
JAMIE TARABAY Senior Producer, CNN
CARLA THOMAS Senior Digital Producer, Forbes Asia
KARL MALAKUNAS Asia-Pacific Social Media Editor, Agence France-Presse
Moderator KEITH B. RICHBURG Director of Journalism & Media Studies Centre and Professor of Practice
ELAINE RAMIREZ Freelance Tech Journalist, Forbes Asia and Bloomberg BNA
Saturday, May 26
18:30 - 21:00
Sree Sreenivasan Digital and social media consultant and trainer
What’s Your Story?
N3Con is launching #StorySlam, an opportunity for members to take the stage to share an impactful story about their journey in journalism. Five finalists will present their stories during the Gala Awards Night to compete for a US$500 prize!
AAJA-Asia thanks our silent auction sponsors
Awards Night & Silent Auction fter two days of thought-provoking discussions at N3Con 2018, the conversation continues at the Gala Awards Night and Silent Auction on Saturday, May 26, 18:30, at the venerable Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.
During a multi-course dinner, keynote speaker and social media wizard Sree Sreenivasan will share insights taken from his journey from tech journalist to chief digital officer for New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Columbia University. In 2015, Fast Company named him one of the 100 most creative people in business and in 2010, he was named one of the 35 most influential people in social media by the Poynter Institute. He also co-founded the South Asian Journalists Association. Also at the Gala Awards Night, finalists from our very first Story Slam competition will regale guests and judges with their true tales of tragedy, comedy, and drama to compete for US$500 and other prizes in an exciting live event. Finalists receive free entry to the gala. We will be giving thousands of dollars’ worth of awards to the winners of the Columbia Journalism School fellowship, Google Digital Award, leadership fellowships and travel stipends. The dress code is smart casual. Bring your wallet so you can bid on the many silent auction items ranging from hotel stays to coffee bean subscriptions. All proceeds go to AAJA-Asia to help us continue to provide scholarships, fellowships, and fantastic programming throughout the year.
Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong 2 Lower Albert Rd, Central
Panels Sunday, May 27
09:00 - 17:00
Bloomberg L.P. 25/F, Cheung Kong Centre, 2 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Mobile Journalism Workshop
Social media maven Sumaiya Omar will help you find your inner MoJo! In this workshop, experience visual storytelling tools for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Lives and VR. Harness the power of your cell phone to shoot and video edit. Learn how to set up mobile-first workflows, engage audiences with derivative content strategies and highly shareable formats.
09:00 - 17:00
Bloomberg L.P. 25/F, Cheung Kong Centre, 2 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Leadership Workshop By Bloomberg and Ron Brown This small-group intensive workshop trains participants to develop a leadership mindset and bring out the leader in each of them. Learn how to articulate a clear definition of your value, brand and priorities that will differentiate yourself and build your influence. Through group discussion and exercises, discover the key to influencing others and thinking strategically. Courses are led by Bloomberg trainers and career coach Ron Brown. Three years of work experience are required.
Trainer DR. RON BROWN Founder and President Banks Brown
Trainer SUMAIYA OMAR Co-founder, Hashtag Our Stories
09:30 - 12:30
Bloomberg L.P. ; 25/F, Cheung Kong Centre, 2 Queen’s Road Central, Central
The Radio Revolution Workshop: Follow The Dark Side And Be A Podcast Master Podcasts have hit the mainstream and advertisers are catching on to their value. Ezra Zaid and Jeff Sandhu of Business FM 89.9 in Malaysia host the Podcast Masterclass to offer tips, tricks, and some of the best examples in this creative storytelling medium that the industry has to offer.The two trainers will be joined by Bloomberg Hong Kong veteran business radio presenter Bryan Curtis and producer Carolyn Wright, who put together a global daily program to millions of Bloomberg subscribers.
EZRA ZAID Presenter, BFM89.9 Malaysia
JEFF SANDHU Presenter, BFM 89.9 Malaysia
by Scott Duke Harris
The growing demand for speed, clicks and shares risks undermining the verities of quality journalism. Bedrock values remain central to the mission
Whenever AP Tokyo bureau chief Ken Moritsugu is invited to speak in classrooms, he makes a point of asking a question of his own: “Where do you get your news?” After Google and Facebook achieved critical mass, Moritsugu no longer expected newspapers, TV or radio to be mentioned first. But Moritsugu was puzzled when several students cited something called Line News. “That was news to me,” Moritsugu said. He knew Line was a popular chat application in Japan, but “I didn’t know the app also had a news tab.” Fifty years ago, while comm majors puzzled over what Marshall McLuhan meant by saying “the medium is the message,” the news industry was dominated by print, a few TV networks, a bit of radio. Today, in a typical minute, Twitter is said to zip 350,000 messages while some 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. The onslaught of social networks involving billions of people and their devices has journalists grappling with changes that can seem like an existential threat not just to their jobs, but to the mission of seeking and revealing truth. “By any measure, today’s information landscape is by far the most challenging in human history,” Alan Miller, founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project, said during a recent lecture at Yale University. Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for the Los Angeles Times before he launched his non-profit in 2008. “The amount of information on the planet now doubles every two years . . . And there is no barrier to entry to those who seek to mislead, deceive or exploit.” “News literacy” is a growing educational movement intended to help the public, particu-
larly students, gauge the veracity of information. “The rise of social media has dramatically increased the speed and volume of the flow of information as well as the amount of opinion versus fact,” Miller said. “As the number of creators of this kind of misinformation proliferates, the number of professional journalists is declining. At the same time, trust in news organizations is at record lows. How capable are today’s students of handling this challenge?”
eighth annual 2018 New.Now.Next (N3) Media Conference. The theme is #RethinkingNews #Asia. We wondered whether the growing demand for speed, clicks and shares carries the risk of undermining bedrock values and verities of quality journalism. So we asked several Asiabased journalists with deep experience to offer their insights and advice for colleagues and rising journalists. Veterans such as Moritsugu, the New York Times’ Ching-Ching Ni and Richard C. Paddock, and University of Hong Kong professor Keith Richburg, a former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, have witnessed dramatic technological change. Still, they say, the fundamentals have changed little since the analog newsrooms of typewriters and pneumatic tubes that moved pencil-edited copy to the backshop. Solid sourcing, shoe-leather reporting, factual rigor, persistence—all remain central to the mission. “Good reporting and source development are as important as always, if not more so,” Moritsugu said. “We need to distinguish ourselves from the flood of information, and good reporting is perhaps the best way to do that. “ Regardless of medium, “great journalism should still be the first thing you think about,” said Ni, Beijing-based editor in chief of the NYT’s Chinese language website. The site has been blocked by the Beijing government since 2012 for its investigative reports on wealthy, well-connected Chinese, requiring readers to use VPNs and other strategies to access it. “Every time big, complicated news breaks, or we publish another investigative piece you cannot see anywhere else in Chinese media, readers would find us against
Fundamentals have changed little Perhaps a tipping point came in 2016, when the Oxford Dictionaries declared that “posttruth” was its Word of the Year, defining it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Three recent books are titled “Post-Truth,” though helpfully each have different subtitles: “How Bullshit Conquered the World” by James Ball; “Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit” by Evan Davis, and “The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back” by Matthew d’Ancona. Producers of fraudulent “news” abound while self-serving politicians denounce legitimate journalism as “fake news”--a umbrella concept that PolitiFact deemed its Lie of the Year for 2016. Technological progress, if that’s the right word, is now expected to bring a new wave of “deep fake” propaganda—videos with people’s faces digitally affixed to bodies. Will we be able to trust our own eyes? Such dilemmas are at the heart of AAJA-Asia’s 24
We asked several veteran journalists what tips they might have for people entering the field. A sampling:
the odds, and our traffic would soar.” Paddock, as a young intern at the Los Angeles Times’ Washington Bureau in the late 1970s, worked under a Watergate-tested editor whose desk featured a nameplate with the letters GOYAKOD. It wasn’t his name, but an acronym for “Get Off Your Ass And Knock On Doors.” “That advice is as valuable today as it was then,” Paddock said. “There is an old expression: A reporter is only as good as his or her sources. If you don’t have sources who trust you and who give you accurate information, how can you hope to break news or produce original stories? There are many ways to tell a story – words, pictures, videos, tweets – but you still need to start with basic reporting to get the facts.” Quality journalism can be compromised by how the evolving media culture has amplified various pressures. Demands for speed and production can result in slap-dash, weakly sourced reports. Tools like Twitter enable instant, unfiltered publication that can spread virally—and falsehoods seem to travel farther and fastest, and have a longer shelf life. Consider how the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel burned himself by tweeting a photo that inaccurately portrayed the attendance at a Trump rally. After realizing his error, Weigel deleted the image and tweeted an apology, but the blunder lives on as alleged evidence of “fake news.” Search algorithms make no distinction between honest mistakes and fabrications in their various forms. The Chronicle for Higher Education recently uncovered one dubious “expert” after a website called The Student Loan Report reported that its survey had found five students
“Get out of the office and go meet people in person. Build a real relationship with your source, over coffee or a drink.” A relationship that begins today may prove valuable decades in the future. “Verify, verify, verify. Just because something is on Wikipedia does not mean it is accurate.” And if you make errors, be quick to acknowledge and correct them. “DO NOT PLAGIARIZE!” Digital media, with all the cutting and pasting, makes it easy to even accidentally use material without attributing it. A free online plagiarism checking program can be used to avert such blunders. Back up all digital files. Don’t assume that material printed on the internet can always be searched and retrieved.
We also asked veteran journalists what advice they would seek from young reporters. “I’d love to learn how to write the right content, for the right platform. For instance, to learn all the ways attention and engagement on Instagram is different from Twitter — something that seems to come intuitively to the social media generation. “And also, how do you guys manage trolls?”
Despite dramatic technological change in the news industry, the fundamentals have changed little since the analog newsrooms of typewriters and pneumatic tubes that moved pencil-edited copy to the backshop. Solid sourcing, shoe-leather reporting, factual rigor, persistence—all remain central to the mission. using excess loan money to invest in crypto-currency. Initially, the website’s founder, editor and columnist -- identified as Drew Cloud -- initially brushed off questions. After the Chronicle’s report quoting experts expressing doubt about the survey, Cloud’s digital presence “evaporated,” the Chronicle reported. Further digging led to the founder and CEO of a student loan consolidation firm who ultimately that Cloud was a pseudonym. By then, however, “Cloud” had been quoted in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Fox News and other media. Bogus reports “spread like wildfire on social media,” Moritsugu said. “It has become more difficult to separate fact from fiction, and we need to be smart consumers of news. When we go grocery shopping, we look for fresh fruit and avoid the rotten ones. We need to apply the same kind of thinking to the stories in our social media feeds.” Richburg, who worked 33 years mostly overseas with the Washington Post, said he faced different pressures from journalists in the field today. “The mandate now is to get it out fast -- often even before all the facts are known and understood,” he said. “Now, the newspaper correspondent is expected to be like a wire service reporter, churning out multiple stories each day, and often re-topping or re-casting the same story as more facts come in. Newspapers, with their own web sites, have gotten into the business of competing with the wires to be first, not the best.”
Richburg says that now, as a teacher of journalism, he can regale students with tales of “the good old days we had time for travel, interviews, research and deep thought. And how I only had to really worry about the words, and maybe a few photographs.”
Telling stories in every format But today’s rising journalists are expected to develop versatile skills for the dynamic changes in the craft, “and be able to do it all quickly in this 24/7 news cycle,” Richburg said. “But there is still room, I think, for the step back, the in-depth reporting. Those are the stories that will be most remembered, not the click-bait. They are the most rewarding stories to do. And they are the stories that will enhance your portfolio.” Google and social media were already popular when Melisa Melina Idris, a news producer and presenter at BFM radio in Malaysia, embarked on her career in 2006. The rapid changes have inspired a continuing education in storytelling. “I’ve had to learn to tell stories in every way possible, in every different format,” Idris said. “As a broadcast journalist, I’m no longer just thinking about how to create content for live radio, but also podcasts and bite-sized audio clips that can be pushed out on social media. “At BFM, we tweet quotes from interviews with the link to the podcast, to encourage people to listen on our app. On Facebook, we often allocate 26
a small budget to boost interviews with big-name guests. However, on Instagram, the approach is slightly different. On that platform, we get a little more personal, a little more relaxed, essentially a look behind the scenes of the station.” The emergence of “citizen journalists”— sometimes accidental journalists—is another complicating factor. Moritsugu offered a hypothetical: Eyewitnesses will tweet ‘loud explosion at Tokyo Station’ before the media can confirm and report it. Passersby may post shaky video of what looks like smoke coming out of the storage lockers. In most cases, though, it’s hard to figure out exactly what happened from the tweets, and more importantly, why. “That’s where journalists add value. They go to the scene, they talk to witnesses and the police, and they piece together as complete a story as they can based on the facts that they can establish. And then people tweet the story, bringing some clarity to the events that have happened.” Citizen journalism is often complementary to the work of professionals, Idris said. “It’s really not about swapping one for the other, but rather, professional journalists being in tune to the citizen journalism that’s happening all around them.”
wires, to see if news is breaking,” Bradsher said. “But social media can easily absorb so much time that it becomes very unproductive.” Paddock suggests that he “spends too much time on Twitter,” even though he uses it primarily “mainly as a resource for gathering information and coming across story ideas that I might not encounter otherwise.” Paddock’s Twitter habit may reflect a persistence that has enabled him to endure through the industry-wide contraction that pushed many peers into premature exits. Paddock had long seemed destined to be a lifer at the LA Times. The paper was once so large and prosperous that it was sardonically nicknamed “the Velvet Coffin” because of its reputation for job security. After his college internship, Paddock landed a job the LAT’s then-vast suburban editions. A series of promotion took him to Sacramento and San Francisco. His first foreign assignment was to cover warfare in Bosnia, which led to postings in Moscow and Southeast Asia. Then, the downsizing commenced. As the LAT began shuttering its foreign bureaus, Paddock returned to San Francisco. When management issued another round of cuts in 2009, Paddock was on the list. Newly unemployed in his 50s, Paddock turned to freelancing, landing a few staff jobs that proved temporary. He later teamed up with photographer Larry C. Price, a two-time Pulitzer winner who was trying his hand at videos, on a project in the Philippines that investigated child labor in highly dangerous mining conditions. Their report, Paddock’s first foray as a video field reporter, would appear on PBS News Hour in 2014 and win an Emmy. Two years later, Paddock joined the New York Times as Bangkok correspondent, reporting from Myanmar to Indonesia to Vietnam. In the U.S., the outlook for the news industry remains grim, particularly on a local level. While the reality-TV dramatics of the Donald Trump administration have inspired intense interest and keen journalism in the nation’s capital, metropolitan institutions such as Denver Post and San
The way we work now Even while news staffs shrink, journalists have seen how the internet has benefited their work. It has enabled much swifter research and communication over tools like Skype, while potentially distributing finished work to wider audience. The key, many say, is avoid using the internet as a crutch and to avoid other the pitfalls. While young reporters might look to LinkedIn or Google to seek expertise, veterans like Keith Bradsher, a Shanghai-based business correspondent for the New York Times, is able to turn to sources he he developed decades ago. But at the same time, Bradsher says, it’s critical to stay on the cutting edge of news. “It has become important to keep an eye on Twitter, not just news 27
Jose Mercury News seem increasingly endangered. Across the country, statehouses and city halls are receiving less scrutiny. Many journalists, ex-journalists and “recovering journalists” lament the state of the profession, but Moritsugu and Paddock evince a glass-half-full optimism. “Newspapers’ business model may have collapsed, but we are seeing a surge in great journalism led by newspapers such as The New York Times and the Washington Post and proliferating on all kinds of online outlets,” Paddock said. “There is so much good journalism to read these days, it is hard to keep up.” Moritsugu pointed to how journalists are successfully climbing the learning curve to maximize the digital capabilities to enhance storytelling. He recalled an emotional moment from Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in 2016, when an elderly survivor of the atomic bomb hugged the American president. “We took that image and combined it with some text on the survivor and what we could glean of his brief interaction with Obama,” Moritsugu said. “This kind of journalism isn’t entirely new. Smart newspapers or broadcasters have always broken off stories like this. But we do more of it now because it is the kind of story that stands out in the flood of content online and that people share.”
Millennials and the next generation of journalists—and readers Not much is lost in the rise of Internet news, but we must be three times as efficient. Q&A with Trinna Leong Edited by Frances Fernandes
Millennial journalists face challenges that didn’t exist a generation ago—industry turnover, fewer traditional jobs, the gig economy, multimedia demands, and the 24/7 news cycle. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced? My biggest challenge was not knowing how difficult it was to survive in this industry. After grad school, I covered three assignments a day, writing news breaks rather than investigative stories. In that period I improved my soft skills—how to build relationships, read people, face up to difficult managers, handle office politics. But only in subsequent years have I been improving my writing and digging into data. A challenge for a foreign correspondent involves handling all types of stories: politics, social issues, macroeconomy, terrorism, even sports. It’s tough to pick up a topic in a short time, especially when it’s tied to legal issues or economic data. The multimedia challenge can be taxing: snapping photos, shooting video, then writing stories. I may rely on a colleague to draft the story based on my WhatsApp messages. I’ll hold two
Scott Duke Harris is a journalist based in Hong Kong. His articles have appeared in news outlets including the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor and USA Today.
How do we engage the readers of tomorrow? With so many sources of information and changing reading patterns, what do millennials want to know, and on what kind of platforms? Undeniably, mobile is the answer—our smartphones, tablets that we carry every day. I read the news when I’m waiting for press conferences. My go-to sources are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not everyone is like me: some friends ignore news and turn to me for updates rather than read it themselves. Listicles work for Buzzfeed. Millennials’ attention span is short, and they absorb news faster with listicles. However, the growth of longform and investigative work is welcome. When I come across good longform stories, I take the time to finish reading it. I saw a study that said readers dislike mid-length stories (500-700 words), which offer no depth but are too long for a listicle. A well-reported and well-written issue that readers are interested in generates more impact. I never liked Snapchat nor having too many apps. They create clutter and information becomes scattered. Five-second forced news flashes on YouTube, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Instagram may be what millennials need to start caring about what’s happening. Catering to millennials’ interests depends on demographics, cultural sensitivities tied to a geographic place. How media platforms engage youths in New York would differ greatly from places like Tokyo. Imagine how different it would be for youths in the interiors of Borneo.
selfie sticks: one for snapping photos and videos, another to screw in my recorder. Being the sole person at an event means that I must be three times as efficient. Do you read a newspaper every day? Do your friends? What’s gained and lost by the reality of social media and mobile as news platforms? I don’t, and I don’t know anyone who does. We consume news via the Internet. That may look bad as I work for a newspaper, but this is reality. Reading news from the Internet is more convenient. I like that I can save/bookmark a story that’s helpful, interesting and may refer to again. I don’t think much is lost with the rise of Internet news. People still need to consume news and citizen journalists are limited by lack of depth. Pioneering news organizations will develop sustainable business models that would allow the industry to thrive. I believe when tech giants such as Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma buy stakes in newspapers, they not only provide monetary assistance but also inject fresh ideas into making news profitable. How do we groom the next generation of journalists? In terms of education, is a master’s degree a must? What about technical training (polytechnic vs. a college degree)? Local journalists tend to receive inadequate training. A master’s degree isn’t a must, but news organizations must provide essential training. Journalism training at Columbia University helps inculcate good journalistic habits, but local journalists can learn to report accurately from editors or from professional groups. Local press are widely read so there should be greater effort to teach and train journalists and editors.
Trinna Leong is a Malaysia Correspondent for The Straits Times after working at The Malaysian Insider and Reuters. 29
reedom in Asia
The most recent rankings of press freedom in the Asian region by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), or Reporters Sans FrontiĂ¨res (RSF), an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that monitors freedom of information and freedom of the press.
RANK 2017 2018 COUNTRY
SCORE 2017 2018
RANK 2017 2018 COUNTRY
SCORE 2017 2018
Papua New Guinea 25.07
New. Now. Next.
s: Asi u c a Fo
A look at battles for press freedom & industry advances across Asia
By Yohan Yun Battles for press freedom and quality continue across Asia. After the conviction and imprisonment of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye, it appears the press in that country is thriving under the new regime, but government controls over public broadcasting networks remains unchanged. Prime Minister Hun Sen has the upper hand against the Cambodian media, while Filipino journalists struggle to exist with President Rodrigo Duterte. The environment in Myanmar and China is so hostile that reporters are ending up in prison. In Malaysia, the first person has been charged and found guilty under the country’s Anti-Fake News Act. Job security for journalists in Singa-
pore is threatened due to consolidation of the media industry, while Taiwanese journalists are criticized for being gossipers. Digital news options in Hong Kong and Malaysia are finding audiences, yet technology is bringing fake news sources to Indonesia. A newspaper in Japan is using AI to improve efficiency in summarizing news, as the Waseda Chronicle offers investigative journalism for the country. An expat-edited magazine in Vietnam is using podcasts to provide English-language coverage that does not threaten the government. Australia, considered one of the world’s most exemplary media environments, debates a legislative threat to press freedom under the president’s guise of strengthening national security.
Battle of the super powers: Should journalists pay the price? and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 that calls for up to 20 years in prison for anyone found guilty of providing “information or article being made available to a foreign principal or a person acting on behalf of a foreign principal.” This new bill potentially classifies journalists who mishandle sensitive government information as criminals guilty of treason and espionage. “We note that the risk is that a journalist could go to jail for doing their job is very real, and as a result of reporting
by Yohan Yun Edited by Jay Hartwell Press freedom in Australia is being challenged by the country’s fears over China’s interference and worries that sensitive information may end up in foreign hands. For those reasons, Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull introduced the controversial National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage 32
N3 2018 in the public interest,” the Joint Media Organizations said on their submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Jan. 22, 2018. “Media reports have suggested that the Chinese Communist Party has been working to covertly interfere with our media, our universities and even the decisions of elected representatives,” Prime Minister Turnbull said. “We are also introducing, for the first time, offenses for acts of foreign interference. Addressing a clear gap, we will criminalise covert, deceptive and threatening actions by persons acting on behalf of, or in collaboration with, a foreign principal aiming to influence Australia’s political processes or prejudice our national security,” said Turnbull. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was “shocked
by the Australian leader’s remarks which lack of principle and simply pander to those irresponsible reports by some Australian media.... We are strongly dissatisfied with Prime minister those remarks and have lodged Malcolm Turnbull stern representations with the Australian side.” With the international relationship between the two countries uncertain, Australian journalists have continued their battle. The government has proposed some tweaks to the bill, but a petition created by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) believes the amendments are inadequate because of the bill’s “failure to protect journalists from prosecution.”
‘Power to destroy’ in Cambodia “severe disruption” from the government. VOA has been blocked from local stations and VOD operations also have been disrupted. RFA was taken off the air and accused of being part of a conspiracy to overthrow Hun Sen. Two of RFA’s journalists were arrested for espionage. “The situation in Cambodia, where two former RFA journalists have been charged with espionage, is especially egregious. Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin severed ties to RFA after our bureau was forced to close in September . Yet two months later they were arrested and charged, and they now wait in prison as a Cambodian court pursues what could be a monthslong quest to assemble evidence for the prosecution. It’s an absolute outrage,” said RFA President Libby Liu in a statement. The two may face up to 15 years in prison. Four journalism organizations released a joint statement on Feb. 14 urging the government to release the journalists Chhin and Sothearin. They remain in prison. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) and the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia (OPCC) have asked supporters to follow developments on the case and campaign for their release at facebook.com/ FreeJournalistsKH.
By Yohan Yun Three years ago, 71 percent of Cambodia’s journalists believed their country’s media was headed in the right direction. Last year, that number dropped 60 points to 11 percent. The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) has been surveying reporters annually and said the drop resulted from the government’s disruption of three media outlets: Voice of America (VOA), Voice of Democracy (VOD) and Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the shutdown of The Cambodia Daily. These four outlets scored four of the six highest media independence scores according to the CCIM report, Challenges for Independent Media 2017. “Let’s make no mistake, this is a free press issue,” said Jodie DeJonge, then editor-in-chief of the Daily in an interview with Al Jazeera as Prime Minister Hun Sen continued his efforts to silence his critics before the election. Prime Minister Hun Sen told The Cambodia Daily to “pack up their things and leave” if they could not pay its $6.3 million tax bill notice within 30 days. The newspaper shut down after 24 years of operation. “The power to tax is the power to destroy,” said The Daily in a statement following its closure. Radio services have been the biggest victim to 33
New. Now. Next.
At least 10 citizen-journalists could die in China’s jails rsf.org In China, citizen-journalists are can be held in jail for years awaiting trial. From left to right: Ilham Tohti, jailed since Jan. 2014; Lu Jianhua, jailed since 2005; Zhang Haitao, jailed since June 2015; Yiu Mantin, jailed since Oct. 2014; Wu Gan, jailed since May 2015; Lu Yuyu, jailed since June 2016; Huang Qi, held since Nov. 2016; Gui Minhai, jailed since Oct. 2015; Liu Feiyue, detained since Nov. 2016; Zhen Jianghua, jailed since Sept. 2016.
LU JIANHUA (Wen Yu), 57, political commentator Media: CCTV, Phenix TV and The Straits Times Crime: Commenting on Chinese politics for the Singapore-based Straits Times newspaper Situation: Held since 30 March 2005 Judicial Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison for divulging state secrets. State of Health: Unknown.
By Reporters Without Borders After President Xi Jinping this spring gave himself the constitutional power to rule indefinitely, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reminded that more than 50 journalists and bloggers are currently jailed in China —some serving life sentences—and that 10 of them could die prematurely as a result of the conditions in which they are held. The Chinese authorities no longer sentence press freedom defenders to death, but RSF said the government mistreats them and deprives them of the medical attention they need while in prison. The Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and the dissident blogger Yang Tongyan both died last year from cancer that was left untreated in detention. Liu Xiaobo’s widow Liu Xia, who is suffering from depression and a heart condition, has been denied contact with the outside world for eight years although no charge has been brought against her. In March, RSF published a list of 10 leading detainees who are in danger of dying as a result of mistreatment and a lack of medical care.
ZHANG HAITAO 46, political commentator Media: Posted opinions online and worked with a human rights group in China. Crime: Criticized the Chinese authorities in interviews for foreign media. Situation: Held since 26 June 2015. Judicial Status: Sentenced to 19 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” and “leaking state secrets abroad”. State of Health: Unknown. Family request for release on medical grounds denied. YIU MANTIN (Yao Wentian), 73, publisher Media: Morning Bell Press Crime: Trying to publish a book attacking President Xi Jinping. Situation: Held since 27 October 2014. Judicial Status: Sentenced to 10 years in prison for “smuggling prohibited items”. State of Health: Suffers from Reprinted with permission asthma and cardiac ailment and from Reporters has had five strokes in prison. Without Borders. Requests for conditional release
ILHAM TOHTI 48, journalist, awarded the Sakharov Prize in 2016 Media: Founder or Uyghur Online. Crime: Commenting on news developments in the western province of Xinjiang. Situation: Held since 15 January 2014. Judicial Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment. State of Health: Unknown. Last seen July 2016.
WU GAN 44, blogger Media: Twitter #SuperVulgarButcher Crime: Making ironic comments about corrupt Communist Party officials. Situation: Held since 20 May 2015. Judicial Status: Sentenced to eight years in prison for “inciting subversion of state authority.” State of Health: Lawyer filed a complaint in December 2016 for mistreatment and sleep deprivation.
GUI MINHAI (Michael Gui), 53, Chinese-born Swedish publisher Media: Founder of Causeway Bay Books and the Mighty Current publishing house. Crime: Trying to publish a book about President Xi Jinping’s mistresses. Situation: Kidnapped in Thailand and held illegally since 17 October 2015. Judicial Status: Unknown. State of health: Unknown but reportedly has developed symptoms of a grave neurological condition.
LU YUYU 39, citizen journalist Media: wickedonna.blogspot.com and Twitter @wickedonnaa. Crime: Posting information on 30,000 protests and strikes in the country from 2012-2016. Situation: Held since 16 June 2016. Judicial Status: Sentenced to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.” State of health: Beaten by guards and prevented from seeing a doctor.
LIU FEIYUE 47, journalist Media: Founder of Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. Crime: Disseminating information about human rights violations in China. Situation: Detained since 17 November 2016. Judicial Status: Accused of “inciting subversion of state authority.” State of health: Unknown. Tortured during previous arrests.
HUANG QI 54, journalist, recipient of the 2004 Reporters Sans Frontieres Press Freedom Prize Media: Founder of 64 Tianwang website Crime: Writing about the victims of abuses by the state apparatus. Situation: Held without trial since 28 November 2016. Judicial Status: Accused of “divulging state secrets abroad.” State of health: Serious heart and liver ailments.
ZHEN JIANGHUA (Guests Zhen), 32, journalist Media: Founder of Human Rights Campaign in China and Across the Great FireWall Crime: Writing about human rights and how to circumvent censorship. Situation: Held since 1 September 2016. Judicial Status: Accused of “inciting subversion of state authority.” State of health: Unknown.
Rise of digital and independent news I believe that the government’s existing policy of imposing a blanket ban on online-only media and prohibiting them from attending its events and press conferences is behind the times,” Lam told the media. Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), a local English internet media launched in 2015, is one digital media outlet that benefits from the relaxed regulation. “The Hong Kong government’s effort to modernize and recognize how voters consume news nowadays is commendable. We hope the new rules will create a fair, level playing field for all media,” HKFP’s Editorin-Chief Tom Grundy said in an article. In our recent interview with Grundy, he said it has
by Stella Wong A blossoming trend of digital media and independent media in Hong Kong give hope to the deteriorating press freedom. After years of pressure and criticism from press freedom watchdogs and media groups, in September 2017, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor finally announced to lift the government’s ban on digital media journalists at its press conferences, and granted online outlets access to government press releases. “With the increasing prevalence of digital media, 35
New. Now. Next. been reassuring for alternative media in Hong Kong. This echoed the report of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), which stated that the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index for 2016 increased slightly after two consecutive years of decline. The association’s chairperson Sham Yee-lan said the slight increase was “likely to be related to the emergence of online media” which has “led to some diversity in the industry.” However, HKJA’s 2017 annual report noted that self-censorship remained the biggest problem faced by the media in the city, and many supervisors or management edited or dropped stories related to the central government. To keep itself independent from investors’ control, Hong Kong Free Press generated most revenue via crowdfunding from the public. In its February 2018 campaign, it raised over HK$850,000 from the public in a month. “[Crowdfunding] is the best option for press freedom. Instead of having a rich tycoon, business person, or big cooperation behind you, a big number of people giving you money makes you quite vulnerable to interference.” Nearly three years after HKFP first launched, Grundy believed it has “achieved more than expected.” HKFP has now published more than 11,000 stories and its stories are picked up by local and international news outlets. The stories also are distributed by Factiva around the globe. He said its readers supported them because they were concerned about freedom of expression, freedom of speech, press freedom, press ownership and attacks on journalists in Hong Kong. “If we look at the English media landscape in Hong Kong: SCMP is owned by Alibaba, RTHK is public, China Daily is owned by China, EJ Insight is owned by a pro-Beijing tycoon, same for The Standard,” he said. “So really we are alone in doing daily independent news.” “It is undeniable that Hong Kong is slowly [being] integrated into China. Sometimes it feels like it’s just something happening every single day,” he said. “We are trying to monitor and act as a watchdog to document what’s happening to the freedom in the city.” Another independent news organization in Hong Kong, FactWire, also was founded in 2015 after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised HK$3 million. The investigative news agency has produced exclusive stories on topics including colocation arrangement and Hong Kong Palace Museum. The news agency’s founder, Ng Hiu-tung, has
worked in the industry for 20 years and witnessed a decline in Hong Kong citizens’ trust in reporters. He believed that the money behind most news organizations has led to media self censorship. “When Hong Kong becomes closer and closer to China, I think nearly all the management behind most news outlets have businesses or political jobs in China like the Political Consultative Conference (PCC) or National People’s Congress (NPC),” he said. “So it is quite difficult for them to stay away from their newspapers, which might make trouble for them in terms of their business, or political relationship.” Ng said China-sensitive management teams have been stepping into Hong Kong newsrooms during the past five years, and now they are openly interfering with the newsrooms. “But if the money is crowdfunded, 100 percent comes from the public, then reporters working for that news organization will be free from business interference and they can enjoy doing ‘real journalism’,” he said. After two years of operation, Ng believed FactWire achieved what he first envisioned. The reporters decide the topic collectively and run the newsroom without bosses or editors, and their stories create impacts on society. “Most of the stories was picked up by news media from the left and the right ... FactWire has already been labeled by most of the spectrum of news outlets as a neutral organization,” he said. Ng said the most important job for Factwire is to keep building up credibility. “The public will continue to keep [FactWire] alive, until one day they don’t fulfill their mission,” Ng said. “But as long as they stay what they are, stay what they stand for, then I think Factwire will be all right.” 36
us: Asia Foc
Indonesia’s battle against fake news generators Like everywhere else, it needs better media credibility and digital literacy. Likewise, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), has been forced to debunk hoaxes and fake reports of a volcanic eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung, which threatened hundreds of thousands of Balinese households and tourism communities—just another example of the kinds of incidents that have left Indonesia scrambling to regain control of media messaging.
By ERIN COOK, The Splice Newsroom Fake news is not new to Southeast Asia, with statecontrolled media outlets historically pumping out progovernment messaging across the region. But in Indonesia, social media and loosening restrictions on the press pose a new threat as fake news goes beyond generating headlines to sow real social divisions. Fake news producers in Indonesia have exploited pre-existing ethnic, racial and religious differences to generate followers or political unrest amid hotly contested elections, notably during the Jakarta gubernatorial election in early 2017. Rather than winding down after the vote, these operations have continued prompting the development of innovative responses to hamper its influence. The shutdown of the country’s largest fake-news generator last August is illustrative of attempts by policymakers and activists to expand efforts to combat fake news ahead of general elections in 2019.
Ross Tapsell, an expert in Indonesian media at the Australian National University, attributed the spiraling fake news problem to the rapid uptake of mobile and social media in Indonesia at a time when trust in mainstream media is declining (like in much of the world). For now, Indonesia’s government is taking a different approach: a special body has been created within the National Police to target fake news creators as part of the February 2017 expansion of the cyber crimes unit from 40 officers to 100. And the Communications and Information Ministry also has teamed up with Google to roll out the Trusted Flagger Program in which volunteers can tip off the internet giant about fake news, radical or otherwise untrustworthy content on a number of its sites, including YouTube.
Cash for campaigns
Reportedly offering a service in which “news” is disseminated for USD$5,550 per campaign, the socalled Saracen syndicate has been linked to damaging falsehoods spread about former Jakarta governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving a controversial two-year sentence for blasphemy, as well as President Joko Widodo and his allies. Five people have been arrested in connection with Saracen, including 32-year-old ringleader Jasriadi, who disputed allegations he hacked 800,000 social media accounts, saying the figure is more likely around 150,000 – and only accounts of users deemed to have “attacked” former military general and failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. The Saracen case is one of the most high-profile in Indonesia, but it is not the only one. In social mediaobsessed Indonesia, online posts have the potential to create wider repercussions, such as last September’s violent protest in Central Jakarta in which counterprotesters turned up after messages warning of a procommunist rally went viral.
Meanwhile, two civil society groups—Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, and Masyarakat Anti-Fitnah Indonesia (Mafindo)— launched the #TurnBackHoax campaign following the divisive and bitter gubernatorial election. The campaign uses social media to dispel hoaxes and fake stories, but with an estimated 88.1 million Indonesians active online, volunteers and activists remain in the minority. Nevertheless, the team behind the campaign remains optimistic about gaining traction, with Mafindo cofounder Aribowo Sasmito pointing to growing membership of their active AntiSlander, Sedition and Hoax Forum. 37
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Crowdfunding Japan uses AI to power quick news boosts investigative reporting
The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun is working with Fujitsu to speed up its news updates. This is how it works.
Ranked 72nd in press freedom, Japan doesn’t do enough investigative journalism. That’s why the Chronicle matters.
By Tim Hornyak, The Splice Newsroom In another step forward for robo-journalism, a regional newspaper in Japan is rolling out an artificial intelligence system that automatically generates summaries of news articles for distribution across a range of media platforms. The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun teamed up with Fujitsu, Japan’s largest IT services company, to create the software. Staff at the broadsheet have been producing summaries manually, a task that takes up to five minutes per article. The software creates summaries instantly and with greater accuracy than a different summarizing method that begins with the lead paragraph and stops when the word limit is reached, according to Fujitsu. The system uses a combination of natural language processing and machine learning to pick out the most salient parts of the article, scoring each sentence in terms of importance. During a trial, it was trained on a dataset of 2,500 articles from the newspaper as well as its manually compiled summaries. “By pairing the original articles with the summaries and defining that as reference, or teacher data, we built an ‘important sentence extraction model’ that evaluates the content importance according to individual sentences, as well as a ‘sentence-shortening model’ that maintains sentence structure while deleting unnecessary words,” said Masato Yokota, a director at Fujitsu’s State Infrastructure and Finance Business Group. The software can work with articles written in Japanese or English. It was built with a web Application Programming Interface (API) that can be inserted into the ditorial workflow. A “summary” button activating the API was implemented into the editing screen for the paper’s cable TV news, Yokota said.
By Tim Hornyak, The Splice Newsroom News media in Japan have been reporting on a growing controversy around the government’s past forced sterilization of some 25,000 people under the 1948 Eugenic Protection Law. The startup investigative website Waseda Chronicle was the first outlet to report how the government required Japan’s prefectures to increase sterilizations, which targeted people with mental illness or other conditions. Founded at the Institute of Journalism in Tokyo’s Waseda University in Feb. 2017, the Chronicle is now an independent nonprofit. Backed by a crowdfunding campaign, it represents for some one of the best new journalism hopes in a country that is often uncomfortable with investigative reporting.
The Chronicle began making a name for itself last year with an exposé of how a subsidiary of advertising giant Dentsu Group paid about USD$5,200 to an arm of major Japanese newswire Kyodo News for an article on blood thinners. The site also reported that Dentsu had been paying Kyodo for pharmaceutical articles since at least 2005. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan recognized the Chronicle’s work with a 2017 Freedom of Press Award. When he accepted it, Waseda Chronicle editor-in-chief Makoto Watanabe bemoaned the fact that mainstream Japanese media ignored the reporting. But he said that Kyodo promised to stop its practice of paid news articles. The accolade has special meaning in a country that, in 2017, ranked 72nd in press freedom — and last in the G7 group of industrialized states — in the 180-country World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders.
Robots vs. Journalists
First published in 1873, the Shinano Mainichi 38
augmented journalism. Heliograf, the Washington Post’s own news bot, produced about 300 briefs on the Rio Olympics of 2016, and has since covered U.S. elections and high school football games; it produced about 850 articles in its first year, according to Digiday. The Associated Press worked with AI firm Automated Insights to deploy software to cover earnings reports. “Through automation, AP is providing customers with 12 times the corporate earnings stories as before (to over 3,700), including for a lot of very small companies that never received much attention,” AP global business editor Lisa Gibbs was quoted as saying in a 2017 report. “With the freed-up time, AP journalists are able to engage with more user-generated content, develop multimedia reports, pursue investigative work and focus on more complex stories.”
Shimbun is one of Japan’s oldest dailies. Headquartered in Nagano, two and half hours by train northwest of Tokyo, it claims a morning-edition circulation of 487,000 copies and distribution to 61 percent of households in Nagano Prefecture. “The third-wave AI is set to become a trend of great relevance, and now is the time to make concerted efforts in improving the newspaper production workflow as well,” said Hiroshi Misawa, the paper’s managing director. The Shinmai, as it’s known, plans to roll out the system in April for its cable TV news summary service, with an eye to speeding up news updates. The summarizing AI joins other automated news applications sometimes described as automated or
Correspondents’ Club to protest the Asahi’s Fukushima retraction, and found that working with Watanabe was an easy decision. Together with another former Asahi journalist, Hideaki Kimura, they launched Waseda Chronicle as an independent investigative voice. “I would say that Waseda Chronicle is also a response to U.N. special rapporteur David Kaye’s report that noticed the lack of independence of media in Japan,” said Hanada. “He said to journalists, ‘Stand up and struggle with power.’ That was his message. But no group of journalists reacted to this recommendation except Waseda Chronicle.”
Watchdog journalism has a troubled history in Japan. Mainstream journalism centers on “press clubs” at government, police and other institutions where officials spoon-feed information to the press. Watanabe was once a reporter with the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s investigative journalism unit. Formed after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and meltdown disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the unit had won several awards. In 2014, however, the paper retracted a major story about workers who fled the plant in the wake of the catastrophe. It followed another retraction about another touchy topic — wartime “comfort women.” Amid a storm of public criticism, the paper shrunk the size of its investigative journalism team, and Fukushima and comfort women became proscribed topics. Watanabe quit after the paper shelved a report he wanted to write on the cozy ties between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. “Reporters in mainstream media are salarymen first, then journalists, and I don’t want to be a salaryman at a media company. I want to be a lifelong journalist,” said Watanabe, referring to Japan’s legions of corporate workers.
Journalism for sale
Working out of a tiny room at Waseda stuffed with books, papers, computers and futons for all-nighters, Watanabe has led his scrappy, all-volunteer team of 23 people through the outlet’s first year, releasing the “Journalism for Sale” series, which has since been translated into English. The Chronicle also joined the Global Investigative Journalism Network, attending its 2017 conference in South Africa, and launching a successful crowdfunding drive that raised USD$52,000 with donations from more than 300 supporters. The funds were spent on reporting expenses, and now the Chronicle wants to establish three sources of funds for sustainability: donations of at least USD$9.50 per month from supporters, crowdfunding for each investigative project (the one on forced sterilization has raised some USD$6,700 so far), and grants from foundations that support journalism.
Starting a new chapter
Watanabe teamed up with sociologist Tatsuro Hanada, the institute director and a professor in Waseda’s Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences. In 2014, Hanada had spoken at the Foreign 39
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Vicious cycle of South Korea’s government-controlled press Story by Yohan Yun Edited by Jay Hartwell What will it take to improve independent press in South Korea? South Korean lawmakers are trying to finalize a two-year-old amendment to the Broadcasting Act in an effort to resolve the “vicious cycle of the administration’s hold on the press.” The amendments to the Broadcasting Act propose a new configuration to the board of directors of Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), the nation’s biggest public broadcasters. It suggests 13 members on each board, with seven recommendations from the ruling party and six from the opposing party. The amendment also specifies a “special issue number,”
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which will allow a two-thirds majority vote of directors to appoint the chairman. That would change the current law regulating the KBS board of directors, which allows for seven recommendations from the ruling party and four from the opposing party, while MBC gets six recommendations from the ruling party, and three from the opposing. Journalists’ objections to having bosses imposed on them by the government led to the chairmen of both KBS and MBC being removed from their positions. “Nonetheless, structural problems remain. The system of appointing managers at the public broadcasters needs to be revised in order to guarantee their independence,” says Reporters Without Borders. Korea has improved from No. 63 on the 2017 Press Freedom Index to 43rd in 2018 under the new administration. Nielsen Korea’s media research says television audiences favor public broadcasting networks as KBS Nine O’Clock News was ranked first in May 2017 in viewer ratings with 13.5 percent. With investigative journalism leading to the ousting of former President Park, more people are moving to the private sector as a source of daily news, with JTBC News Room leading viewer ratings with 6.8 percent as of April. The National Union of Media Workers condemned the current Broadcasting Act in April, saying “the use of the broadcasting law as a means of negotiations for the normalization of the National Assembly and the start of the constitutional debate itself abandons the political independence of public broadcasting,” and that “the National Assembly must abandon conventional party referrals to public broadcasters.” The conservative opposition Liberty Party has opposed the amendments to the Broadcasting Act. Then ruling party floor leader Chung Woo-taik said, “Despite suggesting fair broadcasts, the suggested amendments of the opposing party looks to shake the existing broadcasting system, which will obviously lead to the union and opposing parties’ media control.” The National Union of Media Workers is working with civic groups to draft a broadcasting governance improvement plan. “It is now a time to demand the return of public broadcasting to the people,” said the union.
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The world’s first anti-fake news legislation Committee to Protect Journalists. “The dangerous precedent should be overturned and this ill-conceived law repealed for the sake of press freedom.” However, Sulaiman apologized for his actions. “I agreed I made a mistake. I seriously apologize to everybody in Malaysia, not just in the Malaysian police,” he said, according to press reports. News reports suggest that the “fake news” law presents concerns for journalists and human rights groups in that it could be used to target voices of dissent. “Malaysia’s ‘fake news’ bill is a blatant attempt by the government to prevent any and all news that it doesn’t like, whether about corruption or elections,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the Human Rights Watch. “The proposed law uses draconian penalties and broad language in an audacious and unprecedented effort to control discussion of Malaysia worldwide.” Malaysiakini, an online news portal, filed a leave application for judicial review at Kuala Lumpur’s High Court, stating that the new law breaches Articles 5, 10 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.
By Yohan Yun Enacted in early April, Malaysia’s new Anti-Fake News Bill seeks to target any person who by any means “creates, offers, publishes, prints, distributes, circulates or disseminates any fake news or publication containing fake news.” Violators may be subject to a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit (USD$128,000), imprisonment for up to six years, or both. The first violation occurred less than a month into the enactment, as 46-year-old Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman was sentenced to one week in prison and fined 10,000 ringgit (USD$2,500). Sulaiman, a Danish citizen of Yemeni descent, pleaded guilty as he was charged for spreading false news after posting a YouTube video, stating the police took 50 minutes to respond to a shooting in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. According to the police, they only took eight minutes. “Malaysia’s first conviction under its ‘fake news’ law shows authorities plan to abuse the new provision to criminalize critical reporting,” said Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative of the
Fixing in Myanmar is worth the risk Arrested while assisting a pair of TRT journalists, Aung Naing Soe spent two months in prison last year. But he says the job is worth the risks.
and hugs. The photojournalist had been held in Yamethin prison, near the capital city of Naypyitaw, since October 2017, along with three colleagues, after being arrested for filming with a drone while working as a fixer for the Turkish broadcaster TRT. The group—which included Malaysian reporter Mok Choy Lin, Singaporean camera operator Lau Hon Meng and local driver Hla Tin—was sentenced to two months’ jail under legislation dating to 1934. While in detention Buddhist nationalists slandered him online, accusing him of being linked to Islamic terrorists.
By Joshua Carroll, The Splice Newsroom On the night Aung Naing Soe was released from prison late last December, friends, family and colleagues welcomed him home with gifts, flowers 41
New. Now. Next. But he considers himself lucky. More serious charges, under which he faced up to three years imprisonment, were dropped shortly before his release. Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, are facing up to 14 years in prison on Official Secrets Act charges. They were arrested on December 12 after meeting police for dinner in Yangon while investigating a mass grave in Rakhine state. As part of a series on fixers across the region, Splice interviewed Aung Naing Soe in February to discuss the role fixers play in Myanmar as the country becomes increasingly hostile towards journalists.
their pictures published on social media saying, “They are with foreigners, they are working for foreigners, you guys need to take care,” so we’re getting defamed as well as being arrested. And in certain areas like Rakhine state or some ethnic armed areas, it can be dangerous to be with foreigners. They wouldn’t [lay a] hand on foreigners, but you might get in trouble. Why do you think Myanmar journalists are bearing the brunt of the hatred directed at foreign media? It starts from a misunderstanding. People do not understand that fixers, journalists, are just doing their jobs. They think that fixers are selling the country’s information to foreign organizations. Also, they have been won over by the ideas of nationalists. Foreign journalists here are getting more worried about putting their Myanmar colleagues at risk. What responsibilities do you think foreign journalists, and news organizations, have towards fixers? They should stand with you if something goes wrong. So, for our case, TRT really did a great job— they helped me and my family a lot and they really took responsibility for us. All news organizations should be like that. Also before they start a project, if these news organizations could issue temporary accreditation cards, that would be fantastic. Because [when we were arrested] we were asked, “Who do you work for?” and we didn’t have anything to show them for an answer.
How did your arrest change your thinking about the role of fixers in Myanmar? I’ve got this idea now that fixers need to get some kind of legal protection in Myanmar. Because if something bad happens to fixers, some people think they are just translators, not journalists. So, at least, we should have a network of fixers to help each other, to share knowledge with each other, or to share contacts. So we should have a small organization, and I’d like to help build it, and I’ve been talking to some of my fixer friends about it. What other dangers do you see for fixers working here? Especially around this time, journalists who are working for foreign media, including fixers, are portrayed like we are selling information about the country to foreigners. Some fixers, including me, had
Rappler’s uphill battle vs. Duterte government accountable to the people. While the political motive is clear, I have to believe there are good men and women who will hold the line with us.” The latest attack on Rappler happened in April when the country’s Department of Justice summoned Ressa and Rappler treasurer James Bitanga to provide documents addressing an alleged tax evasion complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue in March. It says Rappler has a tax liability of USD$2,558,789.00. Local and foreign media believe that Rappler has been critical of the Philippines’ president prior to the
By Yohan Yun Founder and CEO of Rappler Maria Ressa and her team continue their legal battles with Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte after a Jan. 11, 2018, decision by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke Rappler’s registration. “There’s no doubt this will be an uphill battle,” Ressa told the Committee to Protect Journalists. “As many have told me, ‘You can’t fight City Hall.’ We didn’t choose this. We are only doing our jobs: to hold 42
N3 2018 SEC’s decision, while the president denied that he had anything to do with the decision. “I never had a hand.” The president has accused Rappler of being foreign owned, and therefore violating the constitution, “You know, if you are a newspaper, you are supposed to be 100 percent Filipino. And yet when you start to pierce their identity, it is fully owned by Americans,” he criticized. Presidential Decree No. 1018: Limiting the Ownership and Management of Mass Media to Citizens of the Philippines and for other Purposes, Section 2 states, “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations wholly owned and managed by such citizens.” On Jan. 19, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) staged a protest in the name of “Black Friday Protest for Freedom.” “We’re gonna answer the charges, we have nothing to be afraid of, we haven’t done anything illegal,” said Ressa after the protest. “We condemn these actions as attempts to try to turn journalism into a crime.” On Jan. 29, 2018, Rappler challenged the SEC ruling before the Court of Appeals. On Feb. 20, 2018, Pia Ranada, Rappler’s Malacañang reporter, was banned from entering the press office of the Malacañang Palace. The government said, “The case of Rappler is not an attack on press freedom. Members of the media, including the Philippine Daily
Inquirer, continue to be hard-hitting yet they can cover the activities of the President.” The statement underlined that Ranada’s accreditation relies on the accreditation of Rappler. “If Rappler wants to have direct coverage of certain events inside and outside Maria Ressa Malacañang, it may apply for of Rappler Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines accreditation .... Rappler’s news is fake, and them being Filipino is Fake. Fix these two things before crying out for freedom of expression.” Rappler is not the only Filipino media that has been under criticism from the President. “The political nature of these attacks against Rappler by the government are clear: one year [of] statements from President Duterte against media, in particular, ABSCBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and now it’s our turn,” Ressa said, during the Black Friday Protest. During an interview in April 2017, Duterte said he would block the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, which is set to expire in 2020, stating the company had accepted funds for his campaign ad which failed to air, as he threatened to sue the company for estafa. Duterte also attacked the Rufino-Prieto family of the Inquirer, calling the owners “corrupt” and “biased” in its reports against his administration, before the family announced to divest from the company in July 2017.
A turbulent year for media in Singapore Last year, the Singaporean was one of 40 individuals whose role became redundant in August, when management decided to shutter the newspaper’s print operations after 17 years. “We weren’t surprised—as a newsroom, we knew we were heading toward the digital route but we expected it to happen a year or two later,” he said. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), owner of the national newspaper The Straits Times, cut a tenth of its workforce three months later with many young reporters finding out on the same day of the announcement. The two companies dominate the media landscape
By Suhas Bhat Being a media professional in Singapore is difficult. Just ask Noah Tan. Tan, 28, currently works as a senior writer at SPRG Singapore but he is not certain if the reasons behind the closure of the print newspaper TODAY was economic. “The decision to go fully digital wasn’t a case just about money—it was a political decision,” he said. “We weren’t like The Online Citizen [an independent political news outlet] so I’m not sure what the objective was.” 43
New. Now. Next. r predation by YouTube star Eden Ang in February got considerable attention. New Naratif, a long-form news platform, run by activist Kirsten Han and Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Sonny Liew, also was launched. It seeks to acquire 3,600 paid subscribers and its manifesto aims to counter “authoritarian governments... intolerant of alternative perspectives” in the region. As the media industry undergoes consolidation in Singapore, the thinning competition makes it difficult for journalists to provide fair and balanced coverage as job security becomes limited. As for Tan, the lack of competition in mainstream media is a worrying sign. “Back in TODAY, some of my best work came when I pushed myself to better the people from Straits Times and The New Paper to break news,” he said. “I feel like perhaps there’s less vibrancy right now and I foresee a decrease in time,” he said, explaining his current position, “I hope I’m wrong.”
but they have struggled in the internet era. Mediacorp, owned by government investment arm Temasek Holdings, does not report financials. SPH’s most recent annual report showed, however, that operating revenue fell by 8.2 percent to S$1.03 billion last year. Revenue from its news operations declined further. Since 2011, it fell 17.4 percent to S$836 million with property investments propping up its earnings. Singaporeans also found in February that The Straits Times went behind a paywall. “We will continue to deliver breaking news reports on our website and apps to all who visit these platforms but our best and most exclusive content will be saved for our subscribers,” SPH editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez said in a note to readers. Alternative media outlets have emerged. RICE Media, a digitally native news portal, secured a sixfigure funding round in May. The site was brought down by a surge in traffic when its allegations of sexual
Taiwan’s media trust crisis and they are always the ones getting blamed,” she said. Taiwan Media Watch in 2015 reported that credibility has remained low because mistakes were spotted in news reports, as media organizations published information without verification. Many Taiwanese media also chose to report news from an entertainment or sensational angle to boost audience. In addition, Taiwanese news media publish online instant news to attract more views. But an emphasis on quantity creates jokes and the media are ridiculed on the internet. News companies in Taiwan are also blamed for often publishing incorrect and unverified information. Taiwanese exchange student Sun Antso was arrested on a terroristic threat charge in the United States in 2018. A source said Sun had rushed to a stage, half-naked, and shouted that he would bomb the school. United Daily News, Apple Daily and TVBS published the news without verification. However, it turned out that Sun had never said that on the stage. This echoed with how Cheng Hung-ta, a journalist from Liberty Times Union, thought about the change in Taiwanese reporters’ work. “In the past, a journalist’s job was like catching
by Stella Wong The future of Taiwanese news media is full of challenges, as citizens’ trust towards news media continues to drop. “There is a huge crisis of trust from Taiwanese people towards the local media,” said Chen Yishan, instructor at the National Taiwan University School of Journalism and deputy editor at Taiwan’s CommonWealth magazine. The lack of trust from the public means that Taiwanese news media have become a subject of criticism. Chen said the media landscape has changed drastically compared to the time of the Sunflower Student Movement in 2014, in which protesters perceived that the trade pact with Mainland China would hurt Taiwan’s economy and leave it vulnerable to political pressure from Beijing. “At that time, many young people wanted to be a journalist and believed that being a reporter can change the world,” Chan recalled. “But now, people do not want to be a reporter anymore. They think reporters do not have dignity, 44
N3 2018 a mouse. We would wait for half a day to catch a big prey. But now, it is more like playing Whac-A-Mole. You need to react quickly if you sense anything around. You need to fish for what netizens will like, just like fishing for a needle in the ocean. But on most occasions, the only thing you have fished is just trash,’’ Cheng told Initium Media.
There is a saying in Taiwan: “If you do not study hard, you will become a reporter when you grow up.” With the current media landscape, some aspiring journalists have lost their passion for journalism and instead decided to pursue careers in other industries. “The only thing [Taiwan journalists] can do is to guard yourself and your news organization,” Chen said.
Saigoneer brings lively debate to Vietnam But to succeed, Saigoneer Podcast will have to tread carefully.
to pass an official censor, the team is “well aware of where the lines are drawn.” “We use the big state newspapers as a kind of idys. Khoi Pham, his Vietnamese cohost and content manager at Saigoneer, was less fazed about having to pull punches. “It doesn’t frustrate me; maybe because I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “There are so many things to talk about in Saigon and Vietnam, apart from hard-hitting political news. We’ve had so much fun talking about shopping from Facebook or the indie music scene in Saigon.” The podcast format also opens the doors to voicing opinions in ways that text stories do not, Pham said. “We always strive to be as informative and thorough in our coverage as possible, so this doesn’t leave much room for weighing in. With the podcast, there’s more room for goofing around, more room to have in-depth discussion of things we talked about on the site.”
By George Wright, The Splice Newsroom For Mike Tatarski, the American editor-in-chief of digital news site Saigoneer, international news coverage of Vietnam remains stuck in the past. “One of the things that has annoyed me about Vietnam coverage from overseas is that there’s so much emphasis on the war, which is obviously important, but we wanted to be able to get a new view on Vietnam, a younger view,” Tatarski said of Saigoneer’s approach. Tatarski, 29, who this spring took the helm at the English-language Saigoneer—which, as its name suggests, focuses on happenings in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City—is bucking that trend with a new podcast. The Saigoneer Podcast, which launched on January 19, features discussions on the latest Vietnam news, along with interviews with prominent figures on topics affecting Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of country. With the exception of a short-lived venture that covered arts in Hanoi and has since folded, Tatarski said he didn’t know of any other podcasts in Vietnam— and certainly none in English. Tatarski hopes the 30-to 60-minute episodes will expand on Saigoneer’s current model of blending lighthearted content with hard news. But with the latter comes a need to carefully navigate what US non-governmental organization Freedom House has called one of the harshest media environments in Asia. Tatarski admitted to self-censoring the Saigoneer website, because while their content does not need
Low tech, high aims
Tatarski was quietly confident the “low tech” show would be a success. He’s taken inspiration from other podcasts being aired around the region, particularly the arts and lifestyle-focused Bangkok Podcast and Frontier Myanmar’s series on the crisis in Rakhine State. “We can’t be quite as hard-hitting as Frontier given the constraints here, but I’d like it to be a mix between the two—news and some lighter stuff,” he said. And despite the constraints of reporting in Vietnam, Tatarski said there are plenty of important stories for the Saigoneer Podcast to explore. The first show focuses on the city’s hugely controversial sidewalk cleanup campaign. They’ll just need to keep their wits about them. “It gets a little touchy at times,” he said. “We’ll try and avoid touchy parts as best as possible.” 45
New. Now. Next.
By Sheila S. Coronel Twenty-five years ago, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism was the only investigative reporting center in Asia. Today there are centers in Nepal, South Korea, Pakistan, India, Japan and two in Thailand—TCIJ and Thai Publica—all of them nonprofits. Investigative units in newspapers and broadcast networks are no longer a novelty. There are investigative magazines—notably Tempo in Indonesia and Caixin in China. Moreover, independent, digital-only news sites are providing a home for watchdog reporting, such as Malaysiakini, Rappler in the Philippines, FactWire in Hong Kong and Scroll, IndiaSpend and The Wire in India. Since the 1990s, new freedoms, new technologies, new markets and new laws have transformed the Asian media. Today, journalists throughout Asia are using freedom-of-information laws, data analysis, social media, collaborative tools and the latest in digital technology. They are writing about corruption, human slavery, organized crime, dirty money and environmental problems. For sure, lush jungles of superficial and sensational journalism still dominate the media landscape. And in China, Cambodia and Myanmar (not to mention North Korea), governments still exert considerable control over the news. But Asia has never seen such diversity, and also such a blossoming of investigative newsgathering. The time is certainly ripe for watchdogging. Technology has made it easier and cheaper to gather and publish news and to engage audiences on multiple platforms. More than ever, Asia is a muckraker’s paradise, with so much wrongdoing waiting to be ex-
posed. In the past decade, Asia’s watchdog reporters have dug into unsafe food and medicines, the sweatshop conditions in companies producing goods and services for the global market, the miserable state of public infrastructure, and the needless suffering and waste in the aftermath of
natural disasters. Like elsewhere, corruption in both high and low places remains a staple of Asian muckraking. In recent years, cross-border collaborations have provided more firepower to corruption investigators, most notably in the case of the Panama Papers, a trove of nearly 12 million leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Those documents, made available by the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), named nearly 250,000 offshore entities that were used to conceal the assets of wealthy and powerful individuals around the world. ICIJ’s partners in Pakistan, China, India, South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia mined the Panama Papers to show how their own elites were involved in the shadowy offshore world. In Pakistan, the exposés led to the Supreme Court decision to dismiss Prime Min46
ister Nawaz Sharif last year. More recently, the exposure of human rights abuses has taken center stage: The massacres and dispossession of the Rohingya in Myanmar and the killing of thousands of drug suspects in the Philippines are noteworthy examples. Human trafficking and slave labor, especially in Southeast Asian fisheries, also have been on the media’s radar. Media exposure of slave labor on Thai fishing boats led to the conviction last July of a three-star general and 61 others in a Thai court. But more needs to be done. The phenomenal expansion of Asian businesses has been widely cheered by the media but not as widely investigated. Real estate and property development, for example, are among the fastest growing Asian businesses. There has not been enough scrutiny of how they have displaced local residents, made corrupt deals with politicians, and sucked up government funds for roads and other infrastructure, to the detriment of the needy. Investigative reporting in Asia is risky, and not only because big business is using its money and power to silence critics. The rise of strongmen who deride journalists as “presstitutes” and purveyors of fake news has put the chill on muckraking. Journalists continue to be sued, jailed, kidnapped or killed. Online, they are trolled and threatened. All these come at a time when the business model for news has collapsed and the resources for original reporting have been slashed. Despite all these, the muckraking continues. Phil-
anthropic support allows investigative reporting initiatives to flourish and innovate. Experiments on new revenue streams to support accountability reporting are taking place, as in the case of the membership model pioneered by the Korean organization Newstapa. There continue to be investments in online news sites that produce watchdog reporting. Legacy media are innovating on ways to engage younger audiences with deeply reported journalism. And a new generation of tech startups are setting up low-cost ways to bring news to marginalized communities. A good example is CGNet Swara, a voice portal in central India that allows local residents to report and discuss the news as well as air their grievances. Since 2014, the Uncovering Asia conference has been held biannually, with the numbers nearly doubling at each conference. In 2016, 370 journalists from 30 countries went to Kathmandu to share stories and investigative reporting techniques. When Asia’s muckrakers gather again in Seoul in October, they will talk about the challenges they face. Buoyed by their successes and rising numbers, they will be cautiously optimistic. Sheila S. Coronel is academic dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University. She was a cofounder and executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. She is helping organize Uncovering Asia 18. 47
Opportunities abound for those who embrace ceaseless hustle Q&A with Kevin Sites, edited by Frances Fernandes Illustration by Gavin Huang
N3 Magazine interviews Kevin Sites, a former backpack journalist and war correspondent turned director, Master of Journalism Programme, Journalism & Media Studies Centre, University of Hong Kong. The rise of the gig economy means many journalists, by choice or necessity, are working as freelancers. What drew you to freelancing? In 1999, after reporting on the war in Kosovo, I left my NBC network news job to teach journalism. Six years of domestic and international travel left me burned out. I wanted to renew my love for the profession through
the next generation. I took a California State University broadcast lecturer job. It turned to be my best career move. The university program was grossly underfunded, so I taught myself to shoot and edit so I could teach my students. My teaching gig helped me evolve from an analog television crew member to a digital one-man-band. Then 9/11 happened. 48
N3 2018 NBC sent me to Afghanistan as a freelance producer. I carried a camcorder and was aggressive about shooting whenever I saw an opportunity. While my crew was covering another story, I videotaped a battle between Northern Alliance and Taliban forces. A mortar shell wounded a National Geographic producer. I placed the rolling camera on the trench while I tied off his wound with his Afghan scarf. Once he was evacuated, the editor asked me to do an on-air report for MSNBC. I was dirty, unshaven and less than polished, but my bosses thought it was authentic. They hired me to return to Afghanistan as a solo video journalist. Apart from a gig at Yahoo! News, I’ve been freelancing ever since.
themselves. Learn the language and support themselves by teaching English. When something happens, you’re already in place. It’s a fast track to being a foreign correspondent. Is the freelance life sustainable, or is the freelancer always hoping for a full-time gig? It’s sustainable for those who embrace its ethos of ceaseless hard work and hustle. My vibe is to be independent, stubborn and selfish about what I want to cover. But now that I’m older, the work feels harder. In 2012, I took a full-time associate professor position at HKU. I wanted an income that would allow me to stay in journalism’s battle for truth without being tied to freelancer economics. Now I pitch stories and books, mining my lessons and experience. Teaching allows me to do the work I love—storytelling—while training a new generation of journalists.
How did freelancing create new opportunities for you as a journalist? I found my calling as a solo video journalist. A crew surrounding a news source rarely results in a honest exchange. I wanted my gear to become invisible so I could have real dialogue. Going solo meant I could travel faster, lighter and establish real rapport. Smaller digital tools were part of that, and so was the mindset of not being tethered to the network, free to experiment —and fail.
What was your favorite story as a freelancer? After Vice Magazine ran an excerpt from my second book, The Things They Cannot Say: Stories soldiers wont’ tell you about what they’ve seen, done and failed to do in war, I pitched them to go back to Afghanistan on the eve of the U.S.’s first significant withdrawal of troops from the region. My pitch was that I would retrace the steps of my first Afghan journey a dozen years earlier when the war first began to see what had changed, if anything. They loved it, but the commission was for a ridiculously small amount since they’d weren’t yet the media powerhouse they are today and they’d never worked with me, aside from the excerpt. But I had been to Afghanistan so many times, had a lot of contacts there, including a former student who worked as my fixer/translator, that I knew I could do it for that amount. Also, and this was key, the deal was not exclusive. While there I could pitch other outlets and even use some of the material for other projects. Ultimately I stayed for almost three months, did nearly 20 video and text stories for Vice online and 10,000-word take out for the print magazine, called Swimming with Warlords. I was able to leverage the article into my third book (same title) with Harper Collins Publishers and the book was optioned by a film company. It was freelance trifecta. So that initial small sum I was paid really was more like an investment in a much larger project, that ultimately paid out better than I imagined.
What are the downsides? The most significant downside is that you do all the reporting, writing and producing, then you have to become the accountant. As a journalist I prefer words over numbers, but freedom has its costs. You can’t always launch on a story on spec. When I look a story, I have to factor in a cost-to-produce ratio. That’s different from my network days when I might move a halfsemi of gear and a duffle bag of cash to a bureau in a war-torn capital. However, if I want to break in with a new client, I might accept a low-ball offer knowing I can leverage it for other revenue streams. What selling points can a freelancer can offer? Being where something is happening is most important. In 2004, I left Iraq after covering the second Battle of Fallujah to decompress after witnessing some of the heaviest combat for U.S. troops. I traveled Asia for several weeks, but in late December the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit killing up to 300,000 people. That day, I flew to Thailand and began reporting for NBC. A day later I was in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, ground zero. I suggest to early-career freelancers that they choose a place they’re interested in and immerse
To see more stories, videos and photographs by Kevin Sites, visit his website, www.kevinsitesreports.com. 49
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A dilemma for journalists the world over
By Cherian George Edited by Jay Hartwell Hate speech presents a major challenge to today’s journalism, but journalists’ own professional procedures—including how news is defined—may amplify the voices of hate propagandists. Journalists need to develop their ethical capacities to respond to the real risk of serious harm being promoted. Ethical standards pertaining to hate speech remain a work in progress. This is partly because the issues are complex and not amenable to simple ethical formulas. Best practice entails alerting society to agents of hate, but without giving them a free ride that exaggerates their importance and amplifies their views uncritically. It can be hard to strike the right balance. Unfortunately, what often sways the decision is the media’s appetite for controversy. Donald Trump knew this when he used hate speech against Mexicans and Muslims. “Trump exploited the [media’s] lust for riveting stories,” says “Politics and Public Policy,” a report on the media’s coverage of the presidential pre-primary season by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media. Some aspects of mainstream U.S. coverage of Trump’s campaign were commendable. Baseless claims about minorities were torn apart. Made-up statistics he cited were fact-checked and debunked. In this way, the media played a central role in the pushback against his us-versus-them politics of fear. Such scrutiny, unfortunately, may be limited to the highprofile race for the presidency; it is less evident in local politics, where the media’s capacity for public-interest reporting has been severely depleted. Furthermore, fact-checking probably made no impact on Trump’s
hardcore supporters or the result of the election. Trump is not the only politician who understands that coverage is often dictated by “news values rather than political values,” as the Shorenstein report puts it. Pauline Hanson of Australia’s nationalistic, right-wing One Nation party is also adept at getting free media coverage. “The new populists understand the media and how to command its attention,” says Brian McNair, Queensland University of Technology journalism professor. “News editors and journalists shouldn’t let themselves be played like fools. Hanson is a freak on the fringe. Don’t elevate her to the status of a major player.” McNair says that One Nation claimed less than 4 percent of the Queensland electorate in 2016. Its emergence should not be treated as “a political earthquake deserving headline coverage,” he suggests. In India, extreme statements from or about any religious group are lapped up by television news channels, says Sevanti Ninan, founding editor of the South Asian media watch website, The Hoot. Journalists report oddball views to generate a debate that is good for ratings, she notes. The Trump phenomenon illustrates another problem: democratic politics confers legitimacy on election contenders that mainstream media outlets think they are not entitled to override. Whatever their misgivings about Trump, many journalists felt they had to respect Republicans’ choice of nominee. 50
N3 2018 This also has been observed in Europe. “When radical populist parties reach a certain threshold of popular vote, some media outlets are inclined to adopt policies of accommodation under the mantra of journalistic impartiality and fairness,” says Jean-Paul Marthoz, professor of international journalism at the Université de Louvain. “Others drop adversarial journalism to avoid upsetting an electorate that is part of their audience.” The problem is compounded by the tendency to cover elections like horse races between personalities rather than contests of policy positions the media should help assess. This was noted in the coverage of the U.K.’s referendum on European Union membership. Even though the BBC’s public service mandate obliged it to provide balanced coverage, Labour’s position was barely covered, a Loughborough University study found. Media focused on what it perceived to be the more exciting contest within the Conservative Party, as well as from the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party. One of the most pernicious and under-discussed aspects of hate speech is that potent hate campaigns are not limited to racist rants or banners. They instead involve a sophisticated effort across a networked movement. Psychologists and sociologists tell us that messages are more persuasive when they enter minds when their guard is down. Journalists need to be vigilant not only against obviously toxic speech, but also hate propaganda couched in pseudoscientific terms and reasonable discourse. In France, for example, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has sanitized her
Potent hate campaigns are not limited to racist rants
party’s rhetoric to make her anti-immigrant positions sound respectable. If journalists are to help counter propaganda, therefore, they need to help uncover connections between elements that make up a modern hate campaign. Much of this needs traditional investigative journalism: tracing the flows of money and power, and figuring out who benefits by instigating hatred, discrimination and violence. Reporting on extreme far-right groups can be as risky as covering the criminal underworld, notes a Committee to Protect Journalists report. Like covering crime, corruption and the abuse of political power, covering hate campaigns calls on journalism’s highest principles and deepest skills. Cherian George is professor of journalism studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. Reprinted with permission from Ethical Journalism Network.
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By Jinyoung Park How did you get started in data journalism? It was about early 2010 when I started to hear about data journalism, a new topic in the U.S. then. I was a reporter and an editor at Malaysiakini specializing in politics and elections in Malaysia. Writing investigative pieces on politics, I often crunched data to create the analysis of the voting behavior and election results. Afterwards I attended New York University on a Fulbright scholarship to study new media. I took a class on technology transforming journalism that was taught by two professors who were working as data journalists at the New York Times, and it deeply inspired me. I picked up new skills such as coding and advanced Excels and created a tool to help newsrooms to use data in their reporting as my final project. After graduation, I worked with Foreign Policy, and now I am at PRI.
you’ll need to learn about finding data, converting data into a machine-readable format, and using Excel and spreadsheets. There will be a huge learning curve, but it will give you good basics in math or statistics. Also, you’ll have to learn how to communicate data to the audience. There are a lot of infographic tools— Adobe Photoshop, online chart making tools—and you can choose whatever you want. Just make sure to present the data in an engaging way for the audience. So it’s very similar to traditional reporting, it’s just that the skills, the tools and the presentation are different. How is data journalism different from traditional reporting? Traditional reporting involves a lot of anecdotes and personal stories, but sometimes is unable to give the whole picture. Data journalism uses data or statistics to give a more holistic and complete perspective, providing a context to the story. Good presentation can help journalists connect with more people and tell our stories more effectively. Especially in a time of social media where everyone wants more attention, data visualization or other engaging ways to present data can be an effective approach.
What skills do data journalists need? First, you need to be a good journalist—good at answering the question, identifying important points, checking your sources and making sure they are correct, and good at telling a story that is important and impactful. However, it’s the technical skills that will be different from traditional reporting skills. Besides the basics of acquiring good Internet search technique, 52
N3 2018 In the meanwhile, data journalists shouldn’t forget the people behind the numbers. When you want to show data, make sure there are real people, real lives behind the numbers. It’s not just about fancy charts or infographics, but the people and the stories behind them.
Asia is mostly investigative reports, which is good. This is different from the U.S. and Europe, which sometimes cover light or entertaining issues with data. But Southeast/East Asia lacks a culture of sharing, unlike the U.S., where people are more encouraged to share their success and failures and have a number of organizations hosting workshops on using tools for data journalism. So they grow at a much faster pace. That’s one thing we can improve. That makes a huge difference.
You developed a startup called DataN, to provide training for small to medium-sized newsrooms to develop data journalism. What are the challenges you’ve seen? Small newsrooms have fewer people and resources, and because of this they also have less awareness about data journalism. Big newsrooms like the New York Times have the capacity to hire 30 journalists just for their graphics team. However, in Malaysia, there are no journalism schools that teach data journalism. Also, they don’t have enough manpower or resources to experiment with projects and operate them, often in a long-term cycle. It’s unlikely that the editor will allow a journalist to work on a data journalism project that can take up few weeks, even if it’s important to tell better stories. Data journalism takes a lot of time, because it requires a lot of experimentations in an early stage to figure out the best approach to connect with the audience. You cannot just copy what the New York Times did and apply it in your newsroom—it doesn’t always work. Another challenge is to find talent. It’s hard to find people who are interested in journalism and mathematics. Usually journalists like human stories more than numbers, and programmers are not interested in journalism. Also good programmers or engineers are expensive.
How can journalists deal with the lack of data? Journalists in developing countries often have issues where governments do not have an open data policy or much free-running information. However, they usually come up with creative ways of finding data. For example, La Nacion in Argentina did some good investigative stories by digging into government data using different sources and tools and combining them. In fact, I think a lot of countries have open and public data and journalists just need to learn how to use the data. Unless you are talking about countries with repressive government where censorship is a big issue, such as Cambodia or Vietnam, where the big issue is just to survive. Each country is different, with different issues. Do you think data journalism will remain an important part of mainstream journalism? Yes. It’s just like social media, which is now taught in all journalism schools now. Journalists need to know the basics of social media how to engage the audience. Data journalism is here to stay. It’s not even the future—it’s now. One report a few years back said over half of journalism schools in the U.S. offer data journalism. It’s an essential part, just like photojournalism or video journalism.
How is data journalism different in other countries or regions? I’ve noticed that data journalism in Southeast/East
Jinyoung Park is a journalist based in Seoul.
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Blockchain to the rescue? By Jinyoung Park One of the rising issues facing journalism is economically minded corporates taking over newsrooms to exert control, as seen in the case of the Denver Post, which went under a round of layoffs after being purchased by hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Moreover, publishers and advertisers often put newsrooms to the challenge of maintaining quality while pursuing advertising revenues and clicks. With third parties intervening in its integrity and values, how can journalism keep its integrity? One media startup, Civil, has chosen an emerging technology to deal with this concern: blockchain, a decentralized database system that’s behind the operation of peer-to-peer digital currency Bitcoin. Just as Bitcoin was born as a way to facilitate direct financial transactions between individuals without third-party mediation from banks and financial institutions, blockchain technology enables organizations and companies to operate their services more efficiently by cutting out the middleman. For Civil, the technology is an experiment in autonomous, sustainable journalism. Civil runs on the Ethereum blockchain as a decentralized platform for independent newsrooms, ranging from local and international coverage to investigative and public policy reporting. Newsrooms adhere to guidelines drafted by Civil community members but maintain their control over editorial policy. Matthew Iles, the founder of Civil, shared with Nicky Woolf of the New Statesman that Civil is trying “to leverage blockchain technology and cryptoeconomics to create a platform for a free and independent press — where there’s only journalists and citizens involved and no advertising or third-party interests in the business model.” It issues its own cryptocurrency, CVL, as a way to reward and identify its community members. Anyone can join the Civil community by purchasing CVL, which acts similarly to equity in private companies, and CVL is needed for making integral decisions. For example, every time a new outlet applies to join Civil, the company’s token holders can vote on whether to allow them in. Journalists can also choose the option to be rewarded in CVL, which acts both as a financial reward and a stake in the project.
In addition, CVL can act as an asset that can be invested in and hold value. That means it can financially empower newsrooms on the platform, without getting owned by corporates or compromising the journalistic integrity for advertising dollar. “The cryptocurrency folks can invest in Civil tokens as an asset that will appreciate and, along the way, has a tremendous public value supporting local, ad-free journalism,” David Moore, former director of the Participatory Politics Foundation, said in an interview with Woolf. Immutable records on blockchain also appeal to journalists who resist censorship or their records being changed. Its smart contract features enable permanent digital records of every news story. So far, eight newsrooms have joined Civil’s inaugural network. The real-life transition won’t be a breeze. “A lot of these questions will have to be put to the realworld test when Civil launches,” said Moore. However, as Katharine Viner, editor of the Guardian, writes: “Technology and media do not exist in isolation – they help shape society, just as they are shaped by it in turn.” Journalism will continue to adopt technology, while being transformed by it. Jinyoung Park is a journalist based in Seoul. 54
That burning career question
ments from a broader perspective, we could adapt and cooperate. That bromance then shifted from a source of friction to part of the glue that held our group together. Other helpful workshops addressed navigating power and leadership in the workplace, setting goals, networking and public speaking, plus an intimate discussion of work-life balance, where the older peers advised to allow time to grow as a person, try new things, date, build a family, whatever one’s priorities may be. We also had the opportunity to speak off the record with some of New York’s most successful journalists of color about their career direction, leadership style and opinions on promoting diversity in the newsroom. Finally, ELP paired each of us with top executives from across the media landscape for a mentoring lunch to give us an opportunity to speak candidly with someone farther down the road. Coming as a freelancer from Asia, I took with a grain of salt some workplace culture lessons that were not applicable to me. But in the process I found I had more in common with my peers in D.C., the Bay or New York than I thought. The experience helped me to respect our differences and to respect myself for being different. On the last day, we readdressed Paul’s five questions: What do you value? What do you need? What do you fear? What do you resist? What are you good at? It evolved into a group therapy session where we could finally put into words why we do what we do. Being raised to believe that only No. 1 gets the prize may lead us to value professional rankings. The sudden death of a loved one may lead us to value time. Childhood abuse may lead us to value justice. Our parents’ sacrifice may lead us to value tradition, family and legacy. Some of us were still beginning to understand our values, and that was OK, too. And knowing these values would help us decide what’s next for ourselves. AAJA hosts ELP every spring in New York. Visit aaja.org for more info.
By Elaine Ramirez Many of us came to the Executive Leadership Program because we wanted an answer to the burning question: What’s next? The Executive Leadership Program, hosted by AAJA for mid-career journalists of color, does not provide an easy answer. Some of my peers came because they had reached a crossroads in their career. Others were comfortable being at the top of their game, but felt like they were selling themselves short if they did not continue to challenge themselves. We all strive for success, but the definition of that is different for each of us. The program sought to introduce to us a framework that would help us consider that question for ourselves from broader perspectives. On paper, ELP teaches us how to build soft skills and professional goals to take our careers to the next level. But the greatest takeaway for many of us was the chance to be introspective, explore our personal values, and learn how they drive our professional direction. The selective program was a great equalizer, where our titles at respected companies were discarded for four and a half days. On a pragmatic level, we learned through a branding workshop that we could never depend on our company for our reputation—that could change in an instant. All we have is our personal identity. More importantly, on a learning level, we knew we all craved something, and the humility to seek help and to give in to do so dismantled the classroom dynamic and created a family. On the first day, program director Paul Cheung asked us to consider five questions: What do you value? What do you need? What do you fear? What do you resist? What are you good at? Being self-critical perfectionists, we were comfortable with addressing our fears and resistances—failure, complacency, risk— but it would take days to address the rest. We learned how our values and personality traits affect our work style, and strategies to determine others’ work styles and how to work with them. On day one, a boisterous group of broadcast journalists who were old friends threatened to dominate the energy in the room as the quieter members watched alarmed and wide-eyed. But once we understood those ele-
Elaine Ramirez is an editor and writer based in Seoul. 55
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WeChat and China’s shift in advanced technological adaptations By Wendy Tang Edited by Jay Hartwell Walk into a Beijing subway car any day and you will find most passengers staring at their smartphone screens. They thumb type, watch videos, shop online, read an article, monitor what their friends share on social media, or angle their phone 45 degrees away to leave a voice message. What’s common among them is their engagement is through one mobile app: WeChat. WeChat is not a household name outside of China, and neither is its parent company, Tencent. But Tencent became one of Asia’s most valuable companies and joined the ranks of U.S. tech giants Facebook, Apple and Amazon with over USD$500 billion market capitalization. The Chinese tech behemoth’s major revenue comes from hit mobile and PC games. The mobile messenger and social media app, WeChat, was developed in 2011 when China began to innovate rapidly in the mobile space. The chat app is a force in China. It combines messaging, the user’s newsfeed, content publishing for news outlets, bloggers, government agencies and businesses, mobile payments, and customer service. It’s possible to complete a day in urban China with this single app: hail a ride, communicate, navigate, pay for a meal or a friend, and settle retail payments including street hawking. WeChat entices a billion active users a month, and tech firms use the consumer behavior data gathered from their platforms. China first modeled after foreign tech products in the late 1990s as the country connected to the Web. Tencent’s first messaging service QQ began as a clone of the desktop instant message ICQ. Baidu, China’s search engine giant, resembles Google. Many Chinese web portals look like Yahoo. But a shift happened as China’s tech advanced over two decades and smartphones penetrated the country’s urban and rural landscapes. The nation now leads the world in innovation for mobile platforms such as payments, enterprise solutions and customer services. The all-encompassing WeChat app is an example of the shift and Silicon Valley pays heed. Facebook rolled out peer-to-peer payments in 2015 in the U.S. to compete with Venmo, PayPal and others—two years
after the payment feature was added to WeChat. In China, the credit card market is not saturated and is inclusive of all social classes. It led to third-party online payment systems. Alipay, which affiliates with the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, was among the first online payment platforms in 2004. Alipay built a reputation in China as an escrow service between buyers and sellers on Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao. Over the years, the platform expanded to include utility payments. I pay my mobile phone, electricity, water bills and rent in Beijing via the Alipay app on my phone. For my first apartment in Beijing from 2015 to 2017, I transferred money from my Alipay account, which is linked to my bank account, to my landlady’s Alipay e-wallet. She received the money instantly and acknowledged my payment with a WeChat message. In New York, I had to write a check to pay rent and drop it off at a management office. Many Chinese choose to save their money in Alipay’s investment fund Yu’e Bao instead of traditional bank deposits as the tech platform offers higher consumer interest rates than Chinese banks. Homegrown tech companies saw an opportunity to disrupt the financial market in China in 2013, as the government restricted interest rates that banks could offer at that time. Alibaba’s rival in China, Tencent, also rolled out a third-party payment platform, Tenpay, in 2005. The service was incorporated into WeChat in 2013 to com56
N3 2018 pete head-to-head with Alipay. Tencent leverages its massive social influence on WeChat to gain market share in the mobile payment market in China. I recently observed how a community of 500 members moved from offline to online. I attended a university’s inaugural dinner to kick off the official alumni chapter’s establishment in Beijing. I first heard about the event from my department’s, unofficial alumni WeChat chat group as the organizers began to promote the event. Through the WeChat network in which people prepared for the event in chat groups and newsfeed postings to drum up excitement, the dinner was sold out. The organizers put on a splendid evening with photo ops, sponsors’ gifts, introductions of the school’s alumni office and veteran alumni, a keynote speech by the university’s economics professor and plenty of inperson networking time. At the end of the night, the emcees announced an official alumni WeChat chat group had been created. As alumni poured into this chat group over the fol-
lowing week, I witnessed how the overall group from different majors broke into smaller subgroups. The subgroups’ themes vary from blockchain technology to venture investment, skiing trips and lunch gatherings in the city’s central business district. They host so many discussions that I muted the notifications of all chat groups to ok the distractions. WeChat is the default tool of community building in the multifaceted societies of modern urban China. It helped me to reach communities and individuals for professional use and make social arrangements as I relocated to Beijing. Wendy Tang is a freelance tech reporter in Greater China. Her mission is to bring in-depth tech coverage from China to the West, leveraging her fluency in Cantonese and Mandarin, and painstakingly understanding various Chinese cultures.
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Useful hacks for journalists by Frances Fernandes; edited by Jay Hartwell Journalists across Asia and the U.S. shared their tips and tricks at Digital N3, the first virtual conference hosted by AAJA-Asia. Stay tuned for future Digital N3 events at aaja-asia.org. INTEGRATED OR ZOOM RECORDER
Recording news in a hostile environment? This tape-free recorder has a memory chip that’s easy to pocket before law enforcement confiscates your recorder. These devices, which range in weight from 60 to 280 grams, also can be attached to an outside microphone for improved sound capture in crowded news conferences.
Data-nerd journalists can mine subject-organized discussion boards. Subreddit moderators can provide source material essential to journalists.
Blow your own horn and get your work —art, writing, design—out on the internet with minimum fuss. A 10-page portfolio is free. Larger ones require a fee.
This Anglo-Japanese app feeds top stories from Asian and mainstream media sites such as WSJ, Reuters. It is curated by keywords, media and authors, and allows user input. Free but “superior” paid version available.
It’s free. It’s open-source. It’s a mapping software that helps readers/viewers visualize large datasets. Hong Kong’s Hannah Dormido explains it at http://hannahdormido.com/qgisin-3-mins.
This comprehensive, South Korean life app encompasses payments, group chats, and blogs that local journalists can use to gauge trending topics and find troves of information and sources. Chats function like public instant messaging forums. It is commonly used for workplace and newsroom chats, demonstrating the lack of separation between work and life in South Korea. WAVEPAD AUDIO EDITOR
This software is a full-featured, professional audio and music editor that records and edits music, voice and other audio recordings. When editing audio files, you can cut, copy and paste parts of recordings, and then add effects like echo, amplification and noise reduction. WavePad works as a wav or mp3 editor.
Use tags on photos and video to prevent material overwhelm with PhotoShop Elements and Adobe Audition. Retrieve individual files or albums. A free software application lets you tag any file (or group) by dragging it onto the tag2find TagBox, then adding your tag(s). PERFECT VIDEO Perfect Video is an easy-
to-use video and slideshow editing app. You can trim, merge, split, reverse, rotate and crop – even add subtitles and have your video ready to launch on your site.
in the Newsroom By Cindy Koh Journalists, many of whom are female, not only have to deal with harsh everyday realities in the newsroom. They must also contend with harassment—verbal, psychological, or physical—by colleagues. As the #MeToo and #YesAllWomen movements dominate headlines, they must defend themselves from harassment inside and outside the newsroom. New York Times Tokyo Bureau Chief Motoko Rich says newsroom conversations on sexism need to extend beyond harassment. “Women have been putting up with men getting juicier assignments,” she says. “Men taking their ideas and claiming them as their own, men talking over women in meetings, men getting all the best leadership posts and women being removed from positions of leadership if they are not seen as ‘cooperative’ or ‘agreeable’ or are viewed as ‘too pushy’.” Zero tolerance for assault should be a baseline, she says. “I think that sunshine is absolutely essential if we are ever going to change the culture.” Women must recognize and act against sexual harassment if they are to work in a healthier environment, Rich says. “If a man says something sexually suggestive that makes you uncomfortable, that is sexual harassment. Call him on it to his face. If you feel unable to do so because of the power relationship, report it.” Male editors can make a difference by ensuring that women are also getting the good assignment, Rich says. They should not assume women will play second fiddle to the men who write the important stories. Rich works for a male editor who is conscious of these issues, she says, and regularly elevates women’s work and treats them Sanghamitra Dasgupta
fairly and respectfully. Rich explored the harassment issue in her December article, “She Broke Japan’s Silence on Rape,” which addressed the case of a female journalist who filed a civil suit against her alleged perpetrator, and the plight of suppressed women in patriarchal societies. “What was sad and surprising while reporting the story about Shiori Ito’s case was (to find out) how women seemed to have accepted the patriarchal view,” she says. Media polls indicate that women say that if a man takes her to dinner or she drinks alcohol, she should assume that sex is expected. Ito won Rich’s respect for her bravery and openness. “Even the lawyers (representing victims in sexual court cases in Japan) were not willing to talk to the press, much less the victims.” Reporting on sexual harassment issues takes a high level of emotional intelligence. “You have to spend a lot of time talking to the victims,” she says, “reviewing whatever documentary evidence is available from sources other than the victim, and give the accused plenty of opportunity to comment and respond specifically to every detail of the allegation.” Balance is also critical. Because sexual assault stories are multi-layered and require investigative work, taking time is of the essence, Rich says. Sexual assault and harassment issues require time to persuade people who fear for their jobs or their relationships to be willing to tell their stories, Rich says. This is particularly the case in Japan. “There is so much shame,” she says. “And then you really have to do the work to verify as much as possible.” Cindy Koh is a research specialist at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute.
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Rising star of Indian TV, without the shouting By Suhas Bhat Edited by Jay Hartwell Anger is the default emotion on Indian prime time news, but the rise of a female news anchor is a welcome change. After a day’s work in India, you spend an hour jostling through traffic-clogged narrow roads with a soundtrack cacophony of horns, lumbering bus engines and Ola cabs. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that news channels in India’s living rooms mirror this world. You can see and hear shouting matches as panels debate issues with male news anchors screaming pointed questions that almost become personal insults. Last June, it was surprising when Faye D’Souza, a popular news anchor, asked for silence— a Muslim cleric on her show The Urban Debate had just dared her to come to work in her underwear. “He hopes that I will throw a fit, lose control of my panel and forget how to do my job,” D’Souza said. “All you men think...if you rattle women then they will run back into their kitchens and leave the world for you again to conquer.” “I have news for you: we are not going anywhere.” The panel had been discussing whether it was appropriate for Dangal movie star Sana Fatima to wear a bikini in a photoshoot, and Muslim cleric Maulana Yasoob Abbas’s flippant comments to D’Souza were barely noticed 60
N3 2018 amid the din. It was surprising that D’Souza had and that she managed to win a moment’s respite. Social media erupted with applause for the 36-yearold. News publishers scrambled to write commentaries and Mirror Now, the sister channel of the top news channel Times Now, entered what became a national conversation. Mirror Now has now turned a year old, but 2017 would have otherwise been remembered for the debut of another channel. Republic TV, led by former Times Now anchor Arnab Goswami and backed by a Bhartiya Janata Party representative, barged into existence calling Congress senior leader Shashi Tharoor a “murderer”. Four years back, Tharoor lost his wife under mysterious circumstances. Goswami’s channel showed taped conversations between an aide and a journalist that offered little proof of premeditation; a High Court judge later advised the news anchor to “bring down the rhetoric”. Despite being associated with politicized, jingoistic and fact-thin reportage, Republic has achieved an insurmountable lead in ratings. Mirror Now, though, seems to be drawing on a different playbook. Unlike Goswami, D’Souza is respectful, approachable and well-loved by youth—she has over 724,000 followers on Twitter and a presence on Instagram and Facebook. She has also been interviewed by All India Bakchod, the country’s leading YouTube channel heralded as the voice of millenials. In March, her team found Debashish Phanse complaining on Twitter about water contamination in the Mumbai mayor’s ward. “Someone from her office called me up and the next day they covered the issue,” Phanse, 29, a corporate social responsibility consultant, said. “Faye is like a women crusader among all these male journalists.” “How Sridevi [a leading Bollywood female icon] died in a bathtub, should Salman Khan [the industry’s highest earning actor] be convicted [over illegal poaching]—these are not real problems,” said Phanse referencing more tabloidy stories.
Eschewing party politics, D’Souza’s team has focused instead on genteel topics such as grocery price fluctuations, delayed construction on expressways or even potholes on roads. But there are exceptions now and then and the former CNBC-TV18 journalist has shown she is not afraid to pose tough questions. In January, she interviewed Congress senior leader Shashi Tharoor and put the politician on the spot questioning why the Tufts-educated opponent of colonial revisionism would not criticise the nepotism inherent in a Congress party spearheaded over the years by four generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family. It is citizen-centric stories, though, where D’Souza’s team shines. D’Souza, who started her career in radio news, loves to soliloquize and viewers tune in to hear her morally impassioned speeches giving women in India a chance to see a reframing of the gender narrative on television. “I’ve had people say to me on-air, ‘Emotional mat ho (don’t get emotional)’ and I’ve called that out,” she told afaqs!, an industry news outlet. “If someone says something derogatory or sexist to me in any room, the reflex action is to point it out.” It will take time for D’Souza to become a prime time news heavyweight. Padma Shri-winner (India’s fourth highest civilian honour) Barkha Dutt’s resignation from NDTV at the start of the previous year has left a vacuum. D’Souza’s interview with Tharoor does hint that a pivot to national political coverage could be in the cards. Whether her brand of news delivery, combative but not vilifying, will draw viewers away from the incumbents is hard to tell. The metrics of success in broadcast news is measured in Television Rating Points that seem to be correlated with the decibel level of the argumentation on display.
Suhas Bhat is a former sports reporter now covering corporate treasury news for Haymarket Media who calls India and Southeast Asia home.
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The challenge of access in covering
the South China Sea By Mike Fabey Edited by Jay Hartwell
sub and naval base at its southern tip. As a result, Hainan featured prominently in “Crashback” and I needed to get its flavor, atmosphere and facts. The question was which kind of Chinese visa to apply for: a tourist one, a media one, a business one, or another. Woe to anyone who gets caught lying. (Unlike Havana in the old days, when you could go on a tourist card, get to the city and pay the proper “fee” to get it changed in-country.) But I also knew that I risked rejection if I applied as a journalist. In many cases, you are expected to already have set up interviews, been “invited” to go to the interviewee, received proper approvals. But I sought another kind of visit for the book. So, I asked for help from a friend, a Chinese reporter who was based in the United States. I had been told by all of my sources in the CIA, FBI and even Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that any U.S.-based, Chinese reporter would, by necessity, be reporting back to the Chinese Ministry of State Security or MSS, the country’s intelligence and security agency.
Covering the South China Sea requires access. It’s not just about getting aboard the right warship or on the right base, it’s also about getting shoes on the ground in places you may not be welcome nor permitted. Even on location, there are tripwires to navigate to get what you need. One case study was my need to get to Hainan Island—and the Chinese navy base by Yalong Bay —on the western edge of the South China Sea for my book “Crashback.” While it is easy to get an in-transit visa for places like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau, you need a more extensive visa to visit inland locales, as well as Hainan, an enormous tropical island off the southern Chinese coast that is 12,700 square miles. (Taiwan is 13,855 square miles). Hainan also happens to be home of important military installations, including the supposedly “secret” 62
N3 2018 By contacting this Chinese reporter, I was alerting the MSS that I was planning to go to China, when and why. But I figured they’d find that out – I already was on their radar; having been the only Western reporter to get on a Chinese destroyer at sea during drills to interview an officer. I reckoned it would be better for me to let them know my plans up front. (My CIA sources thought this would be a mistake, but I had to follow my gut.) I told the reporter of my plans and my concerns and was told, “Let me get back to you.” A few days later I was told, “Under no conditions are you to identify yourself as a journalist. You will be denied. Instead, say you are a corporate employee, which is not untrue.” I would be further asked what kind of work my company was involved in, and I said, “Besides reporting, conferences, analyses… .” “Conferences. Yes, say conferences.” I did as I was guided and received my visa. And they knew when, where and why I was there. Once in Hainan, I had another problem. I do not know Chinese well. It is difficult to travel in China, even in major cities, without some knowledge of the language. Also, I could not find any sites outside China that could explain how I could travel on Hainan island from Haikou, where I was staying, all the way down to Sanya, home of the naval base, that was on the other end of the island, hours away by ground transportation. And, once I got to Sanya, I would have to find a way to locate the base and how to get there. In Haikou, I discovered how to get to Sanya. Then, one of the Chinese workers for a colleague sent me texts with the correct language to request cabs, buses, and trains to get started on my journey. And I caught a break from an unlikely place —Starbucks. The java joints have become modern-day hostels in Asian cities where foreigners can meet up and
trade travel trips. But one of the Starbucks in Haikou had maps—in English and Chinese—that showed all of its store locations on Hainan island. There was one in Sanya, right on the edge of Yalong Bay. I pocketed the map and was on my way. When I arrived in Sanya, I took pictures of the rail station (I knew the Mandarin word for train station in Chinese, but not this one so I wanted to be able to show the taxi driver the exact location for my return) and took a cab out to the Starbucks, which was located in a ritzy shopping center across from gated, fivestar hotels. I grabbed a Chinese version of a chai latte and started walking the road by the hotels. I could not see the bay, but I could smell the sea and feel its breezes and guessed water lay on the other side of the hotels. Finally, I found a small pathway and walked down about 100 yards before running into a guard. I nodded at him, smiled and kept going. (I had discovered in China there is a kind of reverse-discrimination: a reluctance by Chinese enforcement to stop Westerners going about their business.) Within minutes, I reached the bay, with its vista of green lush hills, sea-sky horizon and the conning tower of a submarine near anchored warships. Nothing secret about this. I took out my camera and started clicking. Mike Fabey is a U.S.-based journalist and author of “Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific.”
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ing, content etc.,” wrote one of the judges in his evaluation. Another judge said, “I was quite moved by Angela’s take on the mobile dating app scene, and the way she chose to tell the story. It is worth the watch on your mobile!” Three AAJA-Asia members reviewed eight submissions and selected the winners based on technical and storytelling abilities. With Google News Lab’s support, the AAJA-Asia chapter created the award as “a platform for prospective journalists to put ‘new ways of storytelling’ into practice by utilizing digital technology to tell stories that matter in the region.” The award seeks to recognize “the most creative work that tells continuing stories and issues of how our society evolves in the physical and digital world.” The first runner-up was Crystal Tai, a Hong Kong Baptist University fourth-year communications student. Tai combined art with journalism for “Home,” a 13-minute, 50-second documentary that explores the topic of finding a place to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
By Jay Hartwell A vertical video documentary on dating apps has won AAJA-Asia’s $1,000 Digital Journalism Student Award sponsored by Google News Lab. Angela Cheung, a fourth-year International Journalism major at Hong Kong Baptist University, devised the winning video, “Swipe for the One – A Mobile Experience,” as a nine-minute, 50-second piece that is meant to be viewed vertically on a smartphone as it focuses on the experiences of Hongkongers with Tinder and Grindr and the off-line alternative of matchmaking agencies. Cheung, who is also working as a video editor for the South China Morning Post, created the video that also earns her complimentary admission to the 2018 N3Con Media Conference and an invitation to N3Con’s VIP networking event. “The clear winner for me is Angela’s [“Swipe for the One”] submission because of its originality in format, the story she’s telling, the style, interviews, edit64
Angela Cheung, Hong Kong Baptist University
“I wanted to engage viewers with motion graphics, especially where the interviewees [exhomeless man, Pakistani construction worker, newlywed, surreal photographer, container home designer] expressed something conceptual or imaginary,” Tai said of her piece. “Having a proper home is a fundamental right for everyone, which in many cases is a difficulty for most Hong Kongers. Instead of just presenting the statistics about the astronomical housing prices, I aim to humanize the topic,” said Tai, who this semester is on The Wall Street Journal’s video team in Hong Kong. The second runner-up was a team of six students from Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore for their website with embedded videos, charts and photos addressing youth volunteerism in the citystate. The contributors were Ian Kiew, Julia Tan Ru Yi, Lau Jia Hui, Ethan Rakin, Ma Weijia and Syarifah Nadhirah. “We have explored a topic relatable to our current society, most importantly that of people our age,” the students wrote in their statement summarizing their site. “We have also highlighted positive movements such as for people to have the need to be more socially aware and encouraged to help those in a community-centric country that may require more than a kind word, but actions that are parallel to it.” The other entries came from the University of Hong Kong, University of Oxford and Hong Kong Baptist University.
Crystal Tai Hong Kong Baptist University
Ian Kiew, Julia Tan Ru Yi, Lau Jia Hui, Ethan Rakin, Ma Weijia and Syarifah Nadhirah Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore
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