IN REVIEW WHY CUBA’S KIDS PACK A HARD HITTING PUNCH
FRONTLINE MAN FROM AUNTY WITH HIS BITTER SWEET TALE
BI-MONTHLY • MAY-JUNE 2011
THE CORRESPONDENT’S MEDIA MAN OF THE YEAR
FEATURE SOCIAL MEDIA & THE PRESS: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR US?
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong 香港外國記者會
MAY-JUNE 2011 THE BI-MONTHLY MAGAZINE PUBLISHED BY THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG
MEDIA MAN OF THE YEAR
This issue of The Correspondent celebrates the work of feisty photojournalist, Richard Jones.
FACEBOOK ON THE FRONTLINE
A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF A SUPERTANKER
WILLIE VICOY: A TRIBUTE
EL PRESIDENTE GOES TO CUBA
A NATION’S FIGHTING SPIRIT
then and now
Hong Kong Harbour - in 1975 and today, by Bob Davis
ZOO NIGHT: Truthful irreverence from Harry Harrison
Lots going on at the FCC in the month of May
A MESSAGE FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Two journalists, Thomas Crampton and Prashant Rao, look to the future to see what the wonderful world of social media will bring to journalism Kees Metselaar climbs aboard the Venture Spirit The FCC remembers this great Filipino photojournalist Great music, loads of booze and tinpot despotism amidst crumbling colonial architecture? The FCC? No, actually the Republic of Cuba. Anna Healy Fenton packs her bags. British ﬁlm-maker Andrew Lang’s excellent documentary, Sons of Cuba, screened at the FCC in March. Mathew Scott goes toe to toe with him.
Cover: Harry Harrison
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2521 1511 Fax: (852) 2868 4092 Email: email@example.com Website: www.fcchk.org
President: Anna Healy Fenton 1st Vice President: Stephen Vines 2nd Vice President: Francis Moriarty Correspondent Governors: Frederik Balfour, Keith Bradsher, Thomas Easton, Tara Joseph, Christopher Slaughter, Peter Stein, Stephen Vines, Neil Western Journalist Governors: Jake Van Der Kamp, David Lague Associate Governors: Andrew Paul Chworowsky, Thomas Crampton, Kevin Egan, Steve Ushiyama Goodwill Ambassadors: Clare Hollingworth, Anthony Lawrence General Manager: Gilbert Cheng The Correspondent © The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong The Correspondent is published six times a year. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the Club. Publications Committee Convener: Neil Western. Editor: Richard Cook. Produced by WordAsia Limited, Tel: 2805 1422, www.wordasia.com
From the Club President
It’s that time of year again, when members you only dimly recognise press drinks into your hand while clasping ballot papers in the other. Yes, it’s the annual election for the FCC Board of Governors. Please vote by 3pm on May 25th. I’m standing for president – I can’t say again, because Tom Mitchell left mid-term, so as First Vice President I stepped into the presidential shoes. Am I a glutton for punishment? Well, you may ask, but there are a few things I’d like to see through, such as ensuring our very successful Charity Ball is on the soundest possible �nancial footing in a way that ensures its longevity, while minimising any possible �nancial risk to the Club. �ere’s also the FCC website, which having been instrumental in revamping, I’d also like to see through to completion, with an online membership directory. �en, in addition to the FCC being known as a great platform for speakers, in English and Chinese, we aim to establish the Club as a venue for exciting �lms and documentaries, especially about China. But �rst and foremost we are a journalists’ club and must champion press freedom and support colleagues encountering diﬃculties working in China and other countries in the region. �is year, I hoped to make the presidential election more interesting by holding hustings and a pre-election debate, where the candidates set out their store and the members ask questions, or hurl insults or rotten tomatoes. �is would have been a �rst for the FCC and it would have injected some fun into the proceedings, 2
but my opponent, AFP AsiaPaci�c director Eric Wishart, declined to take part. Hopefully, it can happen next year. Feel free to ask candidates about their views and if anyone wants to contact me directly, my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Back to something much more venal, the wine list. We introduced the Correspondents’ Choice, our own label red, white and sparkling wine last year, oﬀering exceptional value to members, with a glass of wine costing less than a coﬀee. �ese have proved a hit, with sales of the red and white both running at about 400 bottles a month, but lately the red dipped slightly, though it then recovered. So the diligent wine committee decided it might be time for a change, and personfully blind-tasted our existing Chilean carmenere against a river of reds.
�e result? Our existing red came out top. So the net was widened last month and another blind-tasting took place, against wines from all over, and guess what? Our existing red came top yet again. So for now, it stays. Ironically the same thing happened when we blind-tasted coﬀee, but that’s another story… Now for a bit of housekeeping. Being journalists, we are a fairly laid-back bunch and we keep hard and fast Club rules to a minimum. But there are a few FCC customs and conventions that some of our many new members may not know about, such as the Club Table, guests and child policies. �ese are listed in the little blue book, By-Laws of the FCC Hong Kong: copies under the main notice board. I don’t think the Club Table is mentioned, so to avoid confusion, this is a long-standing Club convention which ensures that even when fully booked, members can always have a sit-down meal in the main bar area. It’s a four-seat table on the left and is signed members only, no guests. I hope this explains why this table is sometimes empty during busy periods. All that remains is to congratulate photojournalist Richard Jones, for coming second in the Foreign Reporter of the Year category in the British Press Awards for his outstanding China stories in the Mail on Sunday. Well done Richard.
Anna Healy Fenton Club President
Kate Webb Award, 2011
Dilnaz Boga, an Indian reporter and photographer, received the Kate Webb Prize from Agence France-Presse on March 30 for her courageous investigative work in Indian-administered Kashmir. Boga, 33, spent a year in Srinagar working for the respected news portal Kashmir Dispatch as well as a number of international publications and websites, the culmination of a decade covering the troubled region. She received a certiﬁcate and 3,000 euros ($4,200) in cash from Eric Wishart, AFP’s regional director for the Asia-Paciﬁc region, in a ceremony at the FCC. The Kate Webb Prize was launched in 2008 in honour of a legendary AFP correspondent in Asia who blazed a trail for women in international journalism. The prize recognises exceptional work produced by locally engaged Asian journalists operating in dangerous or difﬁcult circumstances in the region. It is administered by the AFP Foundation, a non-proﬁt
organisation created to promote higher standards of journalism worldwide, and the Webb family. The inaugural Kate Webb Prize was given in 2008 to Pakistani journalist Mushtaq Yusufzai for his reports from the Pakistan and Afghanistan border region. The 2009 prize was awarded to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, which was chosen for its fearless work in the deadliest country for reporters. Webb, who died in 2007 at the age of 64, was one of the ﬁnest correspondents to have worked for AFP, earning a reputation for bravery while covering wars and other historic events in the Asia-Paciﬁc region over a career spanning four decades. She ﬁrst made her name as a UPI correspondent in Vietnam prior to assignments in other parts of Southeast Asia as well as India and the Middle East with AFP.
Doc wins the 9-ball Dr Feng Chi-shun is the fourth winner of the annual Rocky Lane 9-ball tournament. Dr Feng, competing for the ﬁrst time in the tournament, ousted former winner Tony Chan in the semi-ﬁnals before dispatching fellow FCC member Joe Nieh in the ﬁnals to take home the coveted trophy. The tournament, founded in 2004 by the Rocky Lane Foundation – set up by absentee member and professional pool player, Rocky Lane – to promote the game of pool at the FCC, is in its 7th year and featured a sponsored prize of HK$5,000. Dr Feng played impeccably throughout the tournament, starting off with a tough match against one of the best female players at the FCC, Sarah Henderson, to come top of his group in the initial round robin qualiﬁers. He then reafﬁrmed his form against Chan, surging ahead to a commanding 4-1 lead before taking the match 5-3 with a long, thin cut on the 9-ball into the corner pocket. Dr Feng continued his dominance in the ﬁnals against Nieh, who despite taking a 1-0 lead, could not ﬁnd a way to break Dr Feng’s momentum.
For more about the Kate Webb Award and the AFP Foundation: http://fondation.afp.com/
Club Golf Hits the Mark
D.T. Phone Home: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, was guest of honour at the Club’s annual Diplomatic Cocktails, held in March. The C.E’s entourage used the occasion to test the FCC’s no-phone enforcement policy.
In January, the FCC Golf Society opened the year on the South course at Kau Sai Chau where many golfers were trying out their new Christmas clubs. Some found their new clubs brilliant while others found that it is not the arrow but the archer. In other words, back to the practice range. The game in January was accuracy where a twenty dollar bill was paid for each green hit in one stroke plus closest to the pin competition on all par 3s. Jenny Ching, Martin Wong, Stephen Man, Gary Lai and Russ Julseth picked up the twenties but, more importantly, bragging rights for accuracy off the tee. In February, 20 players returned to the North course for a Chinese New Year scramble. The team (pictured L. to R.) of Dr. N. M. Paulose, Tracy Kwan, Danny So and Li Hoi were undaunted by the tricked up North course scoring a nett minus 8 and a one stroke victory over the next best team. Congratulations to all. On April 18 we joined the WAGS golf society for a charity outing on the East course. The charity event beneﬁted the SAHK organization that assists persons who are neurologically and mentally challenged due to neurological impairment and the Rain Lily organization which is a rape counseling and crisis centre for the protection of sexual violence victims. The event, sponsored by WAGS, included golf on the East course, lunch and the great feeling of contributing to these important organizations. May 27 will see us returning to the South course for our annual frolic-in-thesun event, with or without the sun. For more information contact: email@example.com
What’s on Membership Our regular column dedicated to the comings and goings of members. It is for you and about you. So just had a baby? Got married? Should you wish your fellow members to know about changes in your life simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hatched – An extremely warm welcome to these new members: Correspondents:
Lawrence Bartlett, AFP; Maggie Chen, Thomson Reuters; Latif Dilworth, Freelance; John Elphinstone, White-light.tv; Liv Lewitschnik, Monocle; Lui Kwok-Wing, Bloomberg; Stephen Mulrenan, Euromoney; Peter Ollier, Euromoney; Denny Thomas, Thomson Reuters; Phani Varahabhotla, Dow Jones; Graham Uden, photographer; and Zhou Li, China Daily.
Timothy Chui, China Daily; Chung Pak-Kee, photographer; Samantha Kierath, SCMP; Norman Lee, SCMP; Sandra Lowe, SCMP.
Matthew Braddick, Standard Chartered Bank; Michael Brogan, Doubletree; Adgie Chan Nga-Kei, Barrister; Robert Charnock-Smith, Bechtel; Bernard Cheng Siu-Leung, Yenrabi; Peter Hodson, Hodson & Company; David Johnson, Allen & Overy; James Martin, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Yu Chung-Yin, Li, Wong, Lam & W.I. Cheung.
From the Ofﬁce of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China: Xinyi Qian, Third Secretary; Yui Tong, Spokesperson; Chunsheng Wang, First Secretary; and Zhe Zhou, First Secretary.
Welcome back, absent members who have reactivated their membership: Correspondents:
Richard Jones, Daisann McLane, Cornelis Metselaar, Stanley Orzel, Roger Berry, John Diggins, Thomas Luk Kwok-Shing, Hendrik Penndorf and Stuart Witchell
On to pastures new: We bid a fond farewell to members leaving Hong Kong; Correspondents:
Freelancer Mark Douglas and Tanya Willmer, News Editor with AFP Asia Paciﬁc.
Freelancer Sara Yin Pai-Sze and Ben Kwok Ka-Kit Business Columnist at SCMP.
Fernando Hui Yung-Chi President of Robert E. Lee of Hong Kong.
Diplomatic: Maria Castillo Fernandez, European Union Ofﬁce; Corporate: Emil Chan, Bayerische Landesbank, Timothy Hosford, Grant Thornton; Wayne Hoy, CommBank Management Consulting; Edward Jessop, Bayerische Landesbank; David Johnson, Allen & Overy; Alain Loisy, Natxis and Samantha Wong Sze-Man, Royal Skandia.
Bon voyage to those also leaving but who wisely became Absent Members: Correspondents:
Michael Clancy, Drik Claus Photo-Editor Asia for Stem Magazine, Zachary Coleman, Asia World News Editor of Financial Times, Michael Coyne, Photographer with Black Star, and Julie Makinen, Deputy Business Editor of the International Herald Tribune.
Robin Arrowsmith, Finance Director-Asia for Asia Online Portals (Thailand), Michael Foote of SF & Co, David Hughes, Robin Lambert, CEO of Independent Investment Partners David Porter Special Adviser for Mibank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, and Alan Vandermolen, President of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.
Honorary membership was awarded to Papi Mahboobani and congratulations on attaining Silver Associate status to John Diggins, Charles Monat, Geoffrey Roper and Shivan Sujanani.
15th Annual Human Rights Press Awards There was much to applaud and celebrate at the 15th annual Human Rights Press Awards, presented on April 16 at a wellﬁlled Main Dining Room and organized as in previous years by the FCC, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association. Firstly, as FCC President Anna Healy Fenton said at the Awards ceremony: “I am delighted to say we have a wonderful standard of entries. The judges say they are exceptionally pleased.” There were a total of 236 entries for the Awards, slightly more than in the previous year. There were 84 English entries, 98 Chinese entries and 54 Photography entries. The stories, published or aired in 2010, covered issues not only in Hong Kong and China but ranging across the entire Asian region. A second reason to celebrate is that the resounding success of the Awards is proof positive that press coverage of human rights issues is very much alive and kicking – not something we in Hong Kong could have taken for granted when the Awards were launched 15 years ago. As FCC Vice-President Francis Moriarty said: “We didn’t know (then) what the future of press freedom would be, whether we would be free to report these kinds of stories.” The Human Rights Awards have also turned into a way of tracking the huge changes taking place in our profession, Moriarty said, noting for example that 15 years ago all photography entries were on ﬁlm. Now they are all digital. An online category in the Awards was opened several years ago. There were no online entries for the ﬁrst couple of years, but, bit by bit, the number is growing. Looking at the entries, one has to be impressed with the determination, perseverance,
Armin Kalyanram, chairperson, Amnesty International Hong Kong, opening the ceremony resourcefulness -- and on many occasions, pure courage – of Hong Kong-based journalists in covering stories on human rights issues in a country of which Hong Kong is a mere Special
Administrative Region. It’s not just Chinese dissidents who suffer harassment and physical mistreatment, as several FCC members can attest. This has especially been the case during the current crackdown on the Mainland, which, coincidentally, was the cover story in The Economist issue published just prior to the Human Rights Awards ceremony. In fact it could be said that we in Hong Kong enjoy more press freedom than a number of countries in the region who claim to have far more democracy than Hong Kong has ever had, but have less press freedom. Another reason to celebrate. Copies of the complete winners list, as well as press releases and related materials, can be found at www.fcchk.org, www. amnesty.org.hk, www.hkja.org.hk, as well as at the Human Rights Press Awards page on Facebook.
Crusher Turns 80: The wonderful, witty and ever-youthful Dr. Peter Miles, known as much for his bone-crushing handshake as he is for his incredible anecdotes, celebrated his 80th birthday in ﬁne style at a busy birthday party in the Club in March. Here he can be seen at his party explaining the ﬁner points of that famous handshake to Chris Slaughter.
�e London Press Club The wonderful London Press Club has a permanent home once again and its historic bohemianism past combined with its new facilites on the Strand make it well worth visiting, writes Robin Lynam The London Press Club is one of the more venerable institutions on the FCC’s reciprocal list. It was founded as simply The Press Club in 1882 by George Augustus Sala, a colourful character known for his contributions to The Daily Telegraph, several travelogues, and - under the pseudonym Etonensis - a pornographic novel called The Mysteries of Verbena House. A Fleet Street institution, for many years the club was based in premises at Wine Ofﬁce Court, an alley also occupied by one of the great historic London pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which also has strong connections to literature and journalism. In its heyday as a working journalists’ club the Wine Ofﬁce Court clubhouse enjoyed a reputation for easygoing bohemianism, and numbered many of the most prominent ﬁgures in British journalism among its members. In 1986, however, when Rupert Murdoch’s News International began the media exodus from Fleet Street, the club was one of several local institutions to suffer. It moved to a series of different temporary homes, and in recent years has occupied ofﬁces at the St Bride Foundation, near Christopher Wren’s St Bride’s Church, sometimes called the “Cathedral of Fleet Street”. From this base the club has organised the annual London Press Club Ball in aid of the Journalists’ Charity, one of the social highlights of the media year. It is usually held in the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, one of the most spectacular Victorian buildings in London. The museum opened in 1881, the year before the original Press Club’s establishment. The club has also organised the annual London Press Club Awards, monthly drinks gatherings at various venues around Fleet Street, and an assortment of special exhibitions and social functions. The London Press Club was also one of the founders of the International Association of Press Clubs (www.iapcworld.org) established in 2002, of which the FCC is also a member. What the club has lacked since 1986 is a dedicated meeting place for members, but with effect from December 2010 it has one once again. The London Press Club has relocated from the St Bride Foundation to the premises of the Adam Street Club in Adam Street, The Strand, between Fleet Street and Whitehall. It looks like a place where visiting FCC members should also feel at home. Offering bar, restaurant and working facilities and meeting rooms, the Adam Street Club according to its website (www.adamstreet.co.uk) is “a private members’ club made for work by day and play by night. It is designed to help the budding entrepreneur or frantic freelancer (or self-employed, jack-of-alltrades, genius or whatever) in their day-to-day working and social life”. The London Press Club’s plaque can be seen by the main door, and members are once again able to view part of its collection of historic memorabilia. Just up the road, after several years lying empty, the premises of the FCC’s other Fleet Street reciprocal journalist’s The London Press Club, club, The Wig and Pen which closed in 2003, are once again 7-10 Adam Street, The Strand in service. The early 17th century building, which survived the London WC2N 6AA, United Kingdom. Fire of London, the Blitz and almost a century of well lubricated Tel: 44 (0) 207 520 9082 encounters between lawyers and journalists, is now a branch of Email: email@example.com a chain of Thai restaurants. Website: www.londonpressclub.co.uk
Our Media Man of the Year In an era when there seems to be little difference between journalists and money brokers, and the story is so often about big business instead of people, Richard Jones remains a shining credit to his trade. He is, in the ﬁnest traditions of the FCC, a news hound who relentlessly chases down real, hard-to-get stories. In April, his work gained a “Highly Commended” in the “Foreign Reporter of the Year” category at the prestigious UK Press Awards, 2011, where Jones was recognised for a series of hardhitting feature stories on China. This is remarkable, when you realise he is actually a photographer. Which is why The Correspondent has made this feisty Welshman our “Media Man of the Year”. Here he writes about the international media’s attempts to cover the tragic events in Japan in March. All images: Richard Jones.
Spanish reporter blubbed to his colleague in the early hours. “I won’t die here, I’m leaving.” Spooked by “imminent nuclear fall-out”, the reporter �ed in a taxi before sunrise. He �ew from Japan in tears, leaving his colleague, and their out-of-fuel hire car, in his wake. �e biggest discussions amongst journalists the previous day had been how best to capture the double punch that the earthquake and tsunami had delivered to the east coast of Japan. Until then, broken roads, a lack of running water, food and fuel had been the biggest logistical problems facing news teams. With everything closed and queues for food snaking for hundreds of metres, operating was tough to impossible. Petrol had become gold dust. As lines of immobile cars stretched over horizons, fuel was rationed to 10 litres per vehicle. �e March 14 explosion at reactor No 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, that was broadcast live on TV that evening to the horror of the reporters covering the catastrophe, changed everything. As the “mushroom cloud”, as one hack described it, ascended heavenwards, there was a seismic shift in atmosphere. “It’s radiating towards us as we sit here,” stuttered one reporter. “We need to go north.” One Japanese photographer, no slouch, with several wars under his belt, drove north until his fuel ran out, then wrapped himself in plastic bags and duct tape, bought a moped and zipped as far away from the stricken power plant as the bike would carry him. 8
When another photographer heard the words “possible exposure of fuel rods” he abandoned reason, put his foot to the �oor and drove his pleading colleagues, against their will, to a mountain city, using all their precious fuel in the process. �e car was then rear-ended during a desperate hunt to re-fuel. One foreign reporter with a reputation for dodgy datelines raised eyebrows and sniggers amongst colleagues when his elegant report, datelined “Fukushima”, was lifted from Japanese newspaper reports without a single original quote or descripton. Elsewhere photographers and reporters were honest about the very real fear of the leaking power station. Suddenly an odourless invisible enemy was “the story” and we were all part of it. �ings had de�nitely taken a dramatic turn for the worse. �e reporters that had littered Chek Lap Kok’s departure lounge a couple of days earlier, with satellite dishes and endless �ight cases, might not have been so eager to cover “the biggest story in Asia for years” had they known it would be going radioactive. �en the biggest problem was how to secure a seat on a 0135 am �ight to Osaka with an unfeasibly long waiting list. When ground staﬀ let slip that a Hong Kong tour group were unlikely to show there was a collective sigh and the urge to high-�ve. Yet there were no high �ves as the rear-ended hire car slowly made its way back to the coast from the mountains. �e purchase of expensive protective face masks and disposable clothing, to combat possible radiation, if nothing else, provided comic relief.
Was that just “rain” or “radioactive rain”? Was it true that eating dried seaweed would ward oﬀ radioactive iodine? What was going on? �e news was coming thick and fast and was as disorientating as it was confusing. Most people, me included, lost perspective, as self preservation and fear of the unknown took control. I was lucky to be with Mike Clarke of Agence FrancePresse and his colleague, Toru, who avoided being spooked by panicked colleagues and concentrated on covering the very real fall-out from the tsunami. �e scenes that greeted us when we �rst arrived at Sendai airport, Sunday 13 March, were horri�c. Car and planes were piled up like garbage. Once eﬃcient factories, surrounding the airport, had been �lled with mud and debris. As rescue teams looked for bodies amongst the wreckage, one man with his two children explained how his wife had been working in the airport with a thousand others when the tsunami hit. He watched live on TV as a �fteen-meter-high wave obliterated the place. Now the ashen-faced family were looking through factory debris for her body. �e daughter never let go of her father’s hand. At Natori, south of Sendai, a child wailed in a
paddy �eld amongst splinters of debris and a relative’s body. An orange-suited rescue team moved in to take a closer look as a relative shielded the girl’s eyes from the nightmare. Most of Natori had disappeared. Aside from concrete house foundations, the place had vanished. �e coastal town had been swept aside and dumped two kilometres away in a vegetable �eld. Wooden shards mixed with clothes, pictures, pots and pans, electronic goods and cars formed a huge soup of once domestic �rst-world bliss. �e scenes at Natori looked like a re-run of Hiroshima’s nuclear holocaust 66 years earlier. However, the story in the eyes of world media had turned from the devastation and the plight of the hundreds of thousands of homeless and 28,000 dead and missing to imminent nuclear Armageddon. �e newspaper headlines of March 15 fuelled fears. �e words “meltdown” , “apocalypse” and “nuclear fallout” being cast around like confetti. CNN moved its staﬀ from Sendai to the west coast; the boss of EPA ordered his team out - not just of Sendai but of Japan; AFP moved its oﬃces from Tokyo to Osaka along with countless multinationals, who were preparing for the worst case scenario.
Emails and texts, from well-meaning friends, all had the same message. “Save yourself. �ink of your family. Get out while you can. It’s not worth it.” One read: “Worse case scenario, nuclear cloud to engulf Tokyo. One, two days max. Go south.” �e message was followed by useful hints on how to seal a house from radiation. With my wife in Tokyo I took the precaution of asking her to buy 10 rolls of duct tape – a safeguard against future panic buying. �e few journalists remaining in Sendai decided to look at the data rather than the mounting overseas hysteria. According to a French rescue team �tted with a Geiger counter, radiation in Natori measured 0.0. �at provided a measure of relief and those remaining felt a small degree of vindication for not �eeing. �en the Americans poured fuel on the nuclear �re by declaring the 20 km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant inadequate and needed to be extended to 80 km. Sendai’s Okano Hotel, once bulging with foreign reporters, was now home to a Welshman and a Spaniard. “�is is a perfect story,” smiled David Jimenez, the reporter from the Spanish newspaper El Mundo,whose colleague had already �ed. “It’s safe, it’s not dangerous like Afghanistan, and I am left to report alone. I don’t take any notice of headlines, just the science.” With the wind blowing out to sea and radiation levels dropping, it seemed a good time to try on the protective clothing and �le from Fukushima. At least
the competition had disappeared. Eyewitness reports suggested that Fukushima was deserted. �e truth was while thousands had clearly already �ed, many more had simply stayed indoors too terri�ed to step outside. Half the population, all in face masks, were now queuing for supplies. Shinkenobu Matsumoto, 77, and his wife Horo had been ordered oﬀ their farm close to the nuclear reactor and were camping in the middle of the Azuma Sports Hall. “I never expected anything like this in my lifetime. I don’t know how we are going to live with no home and no farm. It reminds me of the Second World War. �en there was no food and no fuel and we were refugees. Now it’s happening all over again.” �ey were the �rst words of criticism that were heard. �e response of the Japanese throughout was one of a digni�ed determination that life would go on. In Fukushima City, where people were angry at losing their homes to a man-made nuclear debacle, they still remained de�ant and calm. �e same could not be said of the foreign reporters, many battle hardened by covering stories of disaster, who were unnerved by the threat of radiation and the unknown. �e Japanese public however – no strangers to the dangers of radiation – took it in their stride. A Richard Jones China Retrospective will show in the FCC from �ursday, May 5th. THE CORRESPONDENT
Facebook in the Frontline Is social media part of journalism or is journalism now part of social media? The Correspondent asked two media-savvy users of the tweet and bleet – hack turned ad agency social media strategist, Thomas Crampton, and Prashant Rao, one time Hong Kong newsroom intern who is now reporting for AFP in Baghdad – to tell us all about the future.
hree years ago my passion for social media caused me to leave what may be the greatest job in journalism, a Paris-based features writer for the International Herald Tribune and New York Times. Now, I run a social media strategy across Asia-Paci�c for Ogilvy & Mather, a marketing and communications �rm. �is transition has given me insight into social media and the opportunities and challenges it presents to both individual journalists and media companies. Spread across 19 Asian territories, our 100-person social media team is a specialist consultancy that helps companies in Asia use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo and Renren for marketing, consumer research, internal communication, crisis management and trendspotting. Unable to break the writing habit I maintain a blog about social media and how it changes the political, economic and cultural landscape of Asia. Claiming no ability to foretell the future of journalism or create a viable business model for newspapers, the two parts of my career – foreign correspondent and social media consultant – have given me a few strong views on the social media apathy of many journalists. For journalists, the advice is easy: Get over it and get on with it. Social media and the Internet have destroyed silos formerly dividing television, radio, news-wires, newspapers and magazines. Every reporter and editor needs to know the basics of operating across all media, with mastery of at least a few. Instead of viewing this as a “more work”, view it as the greatest time to be a storyteller. �ere are now more tools at your disposal than for any previous generation of journalist. If starting from a low base of knowledge, work within the comfort zone of a topic you know and start a blog, twitterfeed and video channel. As added incentive, take a Google test by doing a search for your byline. �e links on the �rst page of search show your digital identity as most people will see it. �at is �ne if the links accurately represent the best of your work. With most journalists, however, they do not. 14
One friend, an editor at the Wall Street Journal, has top links that include an article on student-faculty dating written as an undergraduate for the Harvard Crimson. Fortunately, it is usually fairly easy to improve on digital identity and doing so will help bring any journalist up to speed on social media platforms. �e underlying principle is that social media platforms generally turn up very high in search results. A reasonable �rst step: Using a name as near to your byline as possible, launch a blog on WordPress. com; create a Twitter handle and update your pro�les on LinkedIn and Facebook. �e more ambitious should start creating video content for YouTube and begin using mobile-based social networking services like Foursquare or Facebook’s Places. �e purpose of the blog is not to add working hours to the day, but create an outpost to be updated when possible. �e most important page is actually the “about” page, which every person whom you interview will check out. �e initial postings on the blog should relate to the topic that you currently cover, so people can see your best work. �ere is no need to write something new, just a few lines on why you wrote a particular story, why it is important or shows a larger trend and link the full version on your employer’s website. �e postings on the blog should be updated from time to time, but once a month or so is �ne for reluctant bloggers. For Twitter, use it �rst as a place to �nd people who are interesting to follow on the topic you cover. Many journalists �nd Twitter a great place to go for story ideas and experts worth calling. When updating Twitter, don’t tell the world what you had for breakfast. Nobody cares. Really. Instead, send links to web pages or articles that fall in line with the topic you cover. With a blog presence, Twitter handle and updated pro�les on LinkedIn and Facebook, you will be on your way to establishing a social media presence. As for the unseen business problem social media
image: Harry Harrison
will cause media companies, it goes back to the power of social media to make any person or company into a publisher. �e business side of media has moved from a world where media held a monopoly on all forms of news to an abundance of news. In the early days, this made for a highly lucrative business model for newspapers in which publishers could charge consumers money for content and charge advertising for access to those same clients. With money coming in from the readers and also from advertisers trying to reach those readers, newspapers were a good business. �e advent of the Internet was originally seen as a change of distribution model. Suddenly a newspaper publisher could reach a global audience without turning on a printing press. On the negative side, however, publishers have found it diﬃcult to get that audience to pay. Also, advertisers have been unwilling to pay so much for online ads. In other words, at the same time as consumers start to expect free content, advertisers are trading analog dollars for digital cents. Looking forward, however, there is an even greater risk to publishers as companies begin to harness social media platforms to connect directly with their customers. With even a relatively modest portion of their marketing budget, a company can become an online
media company. As they realize they can reach audiences on their own terms, companies become reluctant to pay a premium for advertising. Don’t think about a crass infomercial, think about a documentary related to the company’s theme of optimism, a video on household design tips from a decoration shop or a detailed white paper on tough business problems. �is dynamic will increasingly put non-media companies in competition with media companies. Both are producing content intent on attracting people’s time and engagement. �e problem for the media company is that the creation and distribution of content is a business model while a non-media company sees it as a lossleader. �e media company aims to sell what the nonmedia company will give away for free. What does this mean for the journalist? It will prove an increasing challenge for newsrooms to support their budgets through traditional-style journalism structures. �is poses a real danger for open society if we cannot �nancially support an institution of selfcritique. �ere is some good news, however, in that social media and Internet platforms open new avenues for self-expression and storytelling. �e structures in which the next generation of journalists earns their living will adapt to the changes. �omas Crampton THE CORRESPONDENT
ow is social media changing the role of today’s correspondent? All I know is that for me, a wire correspondent in Baghdad, my role feels pretty much the same, but the way I carry it out has changed. On a sel�sh level, it reminds me that real people – not just my parents – are reading what I write. At times, it can feel like when a story goes out on to the wire, it disappears into the ether, lost forever. So when I link to a story our bureau has put out (by tracking down if a client has published it on their website), and other people respond on Twitter or re-Tweet the link, it is quite gratifying. For the vast majority of my nearly two years here in Iraq, that is all I’ve done on Twitter – posted links to articles our bureau has written, and hoped someone has found them interesting. On a practical level, it helps me better inform others. During Iraq’s “Day of Rage” on February 25, I started tweeting comments that protesters had made to me and my colleagues that didn’t make our story, as well as little details that inevitably had to be cut out of a 700-word article about nationwide demonstrations that left people dead. My reasoning was,“Well, I �nd this stuﬀ fascinating, maybe someone else will, too.” As it turned out, quite a few did. �e night before the protests, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said their organisers were Saddam loyalists and Al-Qaeda insurgents, but one demonstrator told us that she and her friends were just “nationalists” who were protesting because electricity and water provision in Iraq are awful and corruption is rampant. So I tweeted that, and more than a dozen people re-tweeted it to their followers. �at is not by any means an overwhelming number, but I think it was at least a little useful. At one point, a senior government source told us, on condition of anonymity, that the Prime Minister had asked for a particular governor’s resignation, but the governor had refused, a detail that could be found towards the end of our ongoing wrap on events. I thought, for Iraqwatchers, it was interesting, so I tweeted it, and it got a few re-tweets too. �roughout the day, I tweeted bitesize pieces of information that would keep people who were interested in the story abreast of the main details – how many protesters were at the demonstration site? What kinds of groups were taking part? Were the protests violent? On the other side, it can also be a useful tool for gathering information – I follow Iraqis and other reporters, foreign and domestic, covering Iraq, and some of their comments can lead to interesting stories, though of course only when checked and veri�ed. For example, one day I heard that one of Iraq’s most senior clerics was heading to London for medical treatment. An Iraqi I follow, who is part of an Islamic studies foundation in London, tweeted that he would 16
“Much like in real life, you quickly learn which sources give you information worth following-up.” Prashant Rao.
be meeting the cleric at Heathrow airport. So I e-mailed him and asked if an AFP photographer in London could tag along to take some pictures of the Ayatollah, who rarely ventures out in public in Iraq. He agreed and within a few hours, we had the shots. Of course, it is not all rosy – countless claims and accusations were �ying around on Twitter during the February 25 “Day of Rage” protests in Baghdad, few of which we could verify or substantiate. I couldn’t count the number of times people tweeted about gun�re and deaths in provincial cities, but when we checked with our stringer network, they reported nothing of the sort. Much like in real life, you quickly learn which sources give you information worth following-up and which do not. Other reporters here use Twitter in still more interesting ways: For example, when Kelly McEvers of National Public Radio got an interview with General Lloyd Austin, the commander of US forces in Iraq, she sent a tweet to her followers to see if they had any questions for him. Martin Chulov of �e Guardian, nominally a Baghdad correspondent but someone who was in Bahrain and Libya in February, tweeted his progress through Libya to Benghazi, and on towards Tripoli. As with all things that involve attaching your name to something in a public forum, I stick to a few self-imposed ground rules.
I KNOW WHO PAYS THE BILLS… MY FIRST AND MAIN PRIORITY IS THE AFP WIRE. THAT’S THE REASON I’M IN BAGHDAD. THE TWEETS, AT LEAST FOR ME, ARE WINDOW-DRESSING. IF I’M GOING TO TWEET SOMETHING… I WANT TO MAKE SURE IT HAS ALREADY BEEN PUT OUT ON THE WIRE
One, I never tweet my location or where I will be at any given time. I work in Baghdad. �is needs no explanation. Two, I make sure I know who pays the bills. It almost goes without saying, but my �rst and main priority is the AFP wire. �at’s the reason I’m in Baghdad. �e tweets, at least for me, are window-dressing (though for some, they are far more important – for example: Michael Yon, who runs his own blog and funds all his work in con�ict zones via private donations). If I’m going to tweet something and it has to do with Iraqrelated news, I want to make sure it has either already been put out on the wire, or there was insuﬃcient space in a story to put it in. �is was true of everything I tweeted on February 25. �ree, I apply the same standards of sourcing on Twitter that I have for the wire. If my credibility in the realm of social media lies in the fact that I am a Baghdad correspondent for AFP, then why would I apply diﬀerent standards in the Twitter-verse to those I would apply in an AFP oﬃce? Four, I stay on topic. �ere are any multitude of people tweeting about Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and all manner of other countries and subjects, and (most of ) the ones I follow are better informed than me on those subjects. �is is perhaps better labelled as guidance than a rule, given I break it so often, whether it be with tweets about the cricket world cup, the NBA, or just non-Iraq related things I �nd funny or interesting. �rough it all, I am taking small steps, little by little, into this world of social media – you perhaps already know what has happened to Octavia Nasr and Nir Rosen, two journalists who made ill-advised comments on Twitter, thus blighting a life’s work and leading to them being �red and/or resigning. �eir experiences are what have me constantly on my toes, and as a result I read and re-read my tweets in much the same way I obsess over the copy I �le. How much does social media, then, change our role? I think, so far, not much. �rough the February 25 demonstrations, much as I do in real life every day, Twitter required that I sift through and make decisions on who was credible and who was not and what information was actually worth following. My follower count shot up, as did those of Kelly and another colleague, Serena Chaudhry of Reuters. �ere were countless others who were tweeting about the protests, making claims of questionable authenticity, whose counts did not. We still have to deliver objective, contextualised news that informs our readers about far-�ung parts of the world. People still want factual foreign reporting from sources they trust. �e nuts and bolts do not seem to me to have changed. All that’s changed – for now – is how we deliver. Prashant Rao THE CORRESPONDENT
A Week in the Life of a Supertanker Photographer Kees Metselaar joined the “Venture Spirit”, a Hong Kongowned supertanker built in Japan in 2003, when she underwent her ﬁrst drydocking in Southern China. Supertankers have played a key role in the world economy since their inception in the 1960’s, transporting crude oil from the major oil-producing countries to the markets where it is needed – which increasingly means China. Arriving after ﬁve years of hard work traversing the world’s oceans, an army of workers descended on the “Venture Spirit” and in just over a week had the ship sailing back to the Arabian Gulf to pick up her next cargo. This series of photographs, shown in the FCC’s Wall Gallery in March, shows a rarely seen aspect of a vital industry and conveys not just the awesome scale of these mighty ships, but also the human endeavour required to keep the world’s oil supply ﬂowing.
Kees Metselaar has been a photo-journalist since the 1980s, covering war, famine, ďŹ‚oods - and fun - from Europe to the Middle East and on to Asia. He teaches photography at the University of Hong Kong and writes columns, in Dutch and English, in between frequent trips to his second home in Bangkok.
Willie Vicoy: A tribute
Filipino photojournalist Willie Vicoy was killed in an pro-communist guerrilla ambush on April 24th, 1986, after covering anti-insurgency operations in the northern Philippines. Fellow photographer Robin Moyer worked with Corbis and UPI to bring a memorial retrospective to the FCC in April.
illie Vicoy was already an internationally renowned news photographer when he joined Reuters in 1985 after working for 25 years for United Press International (UPI). He began his working life as a messenger and once admitted that he virtually ran away from home to cover the Vietnam War because he feared his parents might prevent him leaving. He told them he was going to cover a routine assignment in the Philippines, and “before they knew it I was in Saigon”. �at was where he made his �rst big impact, with searing pictures that captured the terror and brutality of war, whoever wages it. His most famous picture, of a Vietnamese woman carrying a blood spattered child, made the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines in the same week, a unique distinction. Ten years after the war, Vicoy said in an interview that he still had nightmares about it. “It is the dead children I photographed who come back to haunt me.” Vicoy, a father of six, always said he preferred working for news agencies rather than newspapers. “I like the wires, you can cover both sides,” he once said. He was doing just that when he died. Vicoy had been covering anti-insurgency operations in the northern Philippines. He was among an army-escorted press party which was ambushed by pro-communist guerrillas near Tuguegarao in Cagayan province, some 210 miles from Manila, on 24th April, 1986. Another photographer, Albert Garcia, said he and Vicoy heard gun�re and leapt from their jeep moments before it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Vicoy, struck by shrapnel, fell unconscious. He died in hospital the next day. A reporter for a Manila newspaper, Pete Mabazza, was also killed in the ambush, along with six soldiers. �e leaders of the communist insurgents in Cagayan province issued a statement of condolence regretting the deaths of the newsmen. “It was not our intention to harm them,” they said. Reuters Chairman Sir Christopher Hogg said of Vicoy: “He was probably the most widely respected and admired news photographer in South East Asia. He was held in awe by fellow Filipino photographers...” In 1987 the Willie Vicoy Reuters Fellowship for photojournalists was established to enable news photographers from the developing world to study at Missouri University’s School of Journalism. 24
�ere is a generation of Filipino photojournalists who were gently mentored by Willie Vicoy and are now working, for low wages, in combat zones across Asia and the Middle East. �ey are foot soldiers for the wire services. Working with and alongside Willie was a special privilege. His loyalty, sincerity, good humour, sel�essness and honesty will never be forgotten. His memory continues to inspire. Taken from a Reuters tribute to Willie Vicoy.
Above: Willie Vicoy covered with mud after being pinned down by North Vietnamese soldiers in Cai Lay, 40 miles southwest of Saigon. Vicoy narrowly escaped death that day. August 25, 1972 (UPI photo).
Above: A Vietnamese family mourns the loss of father and home during a battle. January 27th, 1972. Below: Female dependents of the US mission in Saigon strap themselves in a cargo plane along with orphans who were en route to Clark Air base in the Philippines. The US Airforce plane crashed one mile from the runway. April 4th, 1975.
Above: Willie dressed for combat. Photograph not attributed. Unless otherwise credited, all photographs are by Willie Vicoy and are courtesy of CORBIS from the United Press International / Bettmann Archive. The Foreign Correspondentsâ€™ Club of Hong Kong wishes to express our gratitude to CORBIS, and especially to Ken Johnston, Ann Hartman and Judy Harlacher for their efforts in locating all the pictures and for allowing the FCC to use the pictures for this memorial tribute to Willie. 26
Above: Dead North Vietnamese soldiers are lined up as refugees from Quang Tri City ﬂee the ﬁghting. Below: U.S. Vice President George Bush speaks after Ferdinand Marcos’ inauguration in Manila. Bush declared America’s admiration for Marcos’ “adherence to democratic principles and democratic processes.”
El Presidente goes to Cuba Great music, loads of booze and tinpot despotism amidst crumbling colonial architecture? The FCC? No, actually the Republic of Cuba. Club President Anna Healy Fenton travelled to this beautiful if impoverished Caribbean island to see how a real dictatorship does it.
t’s a good idea to have breakfasted before heading from Havana to Varadero, the resort area for foreigners two hours along Cuba’s northern coast. Only certain locals can enter this restricted zone. New Chinese oil wells punctuate the coastline, sitting oddly against the pristine white Caribbean sand and empty turquoise sea. Nauseating natural gas fumes seep into the bus, though whether from the rigs, or nearby re�neries is not clear. It’s stomachchurning, nevertheless. Looking across the narrow channel to Florida, there’s eerily not a boat anywhere. Cuban maps show this stretch to be 150km wide, to discourage escapers to America, but in reality it’s a third of that. But for now, the main signs of life are an overhead helicopter, hunting illegal emigrants, and locals trying vainly to board the locked bus at junctions, before slumping disconsolately back to continue hitchhiking. Public transport is scarce in Cuba. Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, has supposedly loosened things up, but travel for locals is still very diﬃcult. �e Varadero bus station is typical of Cuban-style apartheid. �e foreigner section is clean and buying the US$10 ticket easy. Propaganda is everywhere. A waiting-room poster depicts a glum Caucasian man and a tearful curly-haired Cuban woman under the heading: “Cruel America keeps this loving couple apart.” In contrast, the stench of stale urine hits you like a wet �sh in the face on entering the local part of the station. �e bemused ticket clerk explains the Havana fare for a Cuban is just 27 pesos – a fraction of what I paid - but there’s a snag: it’s only bookable 90 days in advance. �is epitomises Cuba’s split personality – while embracing tourism to harvest mounds of foreign currency from this year’s crop of three million visitors, the regime tries to maintain a tenacious grip on its citizens. It may be 52 years since January 1959 when Fidel and his rebels put their boots up on the new Havana Hilton sofas, renaming it the Hotel Habana Libre, 28
and from there launched the socialist revolution, but it’s still alive and well today. Everywhere slogans scream from walls: “Socialism or Death.” Another says: “Free Fatherland or Die - Until the Victory Always” and the ubiquitous “52 years, �e Revolution Still Goes On.” But the revolution is teetering because the state is broke. Castro recently announced the sacking of half a million people, sending shockwaves through the 11 million population. Everyone is a state employee and vulnerable. �ere is no social security, the newly jobless are simply advised to “be entrepreneurial” – but with what? Cuba’s banks change tourist money, they don’t lend to locals. Life for Cubans isn’t much fun. �ey earn and spend in local pesos, at designated shops. Foreigners must use the Cuban convertible currency, CUCs, in foreigner-only shops. CUCs have a value many times that of pesos. So even if engineers and teachers moonlight as waiters to earn tips in CUCs, they can’t get ahead because the proceeds can only be spent in the high-priced tourist shops. Meanwhile, unpredictable food supplies mean bare shelves in local grocery shops, like Russia in Soviet days. Some nights long queues form outside: that means a delivery of rice or oil, so everyone rushes down, clutching ration books for their weekly allocation. But even the subsidised food is going: that’s two tenets of the revolution, the job for life and cheap food, under threat. How much longer will the promise of education and healthcare for all remain? Many Cubans learn Russian and now English at school, which is just as well, since the visitor in�ux includes hordes of cheap package-tour Russians. �ese are a singular group, who refuse to queue and don’t take prisoners. I never realised pool volleyball could be a blood sport until I saw it played by mojito-fuelled Muscovites. �ere’s a de�nite whiﬀ of change in the Havana air. Both Castro brothers are in their dotage and tourists are piling in to see Cuba before the regime topples
AFTER HALF A CENTURY OF RESOURCEFULLY LIVING WITHOUT, CUBANS’ PATIENCE IS WEARING THIN. BUT THE REGIME CLINGS ON. WHEN I ASK THE GUIDE WHAT SHE THINKS OF THE REVOLUTION IN EGYPT, SHE REPLIES “WHAT REVOLUTION? IT’S NOT REPORTED HERE.” DIDN’T SHE SEE IT ON CNN? NO, SHE LAUGHED. “WE GET THE CNN SPANISH CHANNEL, BUT I KNEW SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING BECAUSE INSTEAD OF NEWS, WE GOT PIERS MORGAN 24 HOURS A DAY.”
and Toyotas replace the wonderful 1950s cars and the gorgeous dilapidated colonial buildings crumble. But although the old city centre, Habana Vieja, is now a UNESCO heritage site and money from somewhere is funding fabulous renovations, the city is woefully ill-equipped for mass tourism. �ere are not enough hotels, an unreliable water supply and frequent blackouts. Mostly the food ranges from unidenti�able to inedible. Good news is there’s plenty of rum. But no amount of brainwashing blinds Cubans to the potential joys of a realistic wage, foreign travel, the internet and cell phones ownership. �ey want all this too. Especially since their Cuban-American relatives began to be allowed to visit in 2009, bringing televisions and other capitalist goodies. But unless you’re one of the 25 per cent with a generous Miami cousin, for now you can only dream of such things in a life after Castro. Tour guides and waiters talk of little else, not of if, but when change will come. �ey don’t want a violent 30
overthrow, they hope it will be gradual, fearing a mad scramble for real estate claims, escalating crime and a drug-smuggling bonanza. Taxi-drivers already play the system, one jamming the metre at 3.7Cucs during an agreed �ve-Cuc journey. “If I don’t, nothing for me, OK?” he says apologetically. Hard not to smile as his ancient pink Cadillac lurches between the craters in the road, visible through the holes in the rotted �oor as the cardboard covering works loose. Doubtless he has nothing else to �x it with. After half a century of resourcefully living without, Cubans’ patience is wearing thin. But the regime clings on. When I ask the guide what she thinks of the revolution in Egypt, she replies “What revolution? It’s not reported here.” Didn’t she see it on CNN? No, she laughed. “We get the CNN Spanish channel, but I knew something was happening because instead of news, we got Piers Morgan 24 hours a day.”
“There are not enough hotels, an unreliable water supply and frequent blackouts. Mostly the food ranges from unidentiﬁable to inedible. Good news is there’s plenty of rum.” (All Images: Anna Healy Fenton)
A Nation’s Fighting Spirit
British ﬁlm-maker Andrew Lang wanted to make a documentary that captured Cuba’s unique spirit. Very quickly he realized his ﬁlm had to be about boxing and the result was the award-winning Sons of Cuba. The ﬁlm screened at the FCC in March after which The Correspondent’s own hard hitting heavyweight, Mathew Scott, spoke to this talented ﬁlm-maker.
t wasn’t long after Andrew Lang decided to train his cameras on the nation of Cuba that he realized the story he had to tell would be all about La Lucha. After �nishing a degree in Spanish at Edinburgh University, Lang had in 2005 travelled to the island nation to take a short course in documentary �lm-making at the EICTV school. It was then that he �rst came into contact with Cuba’s state-funded boxing programmes – and with the country’s passion for the pugilistic art. “To me it was a matter of �nding a metaphor for looking at life in Cuba through a camera’s lense,” the 29-year-old Brit explains. “I knew already that life was tough there, through the trade embargo and the failure of their own economy. “�en I read an article in the Times with a Cuban boxer – Mario Kindelan, a double Olympic champion – and he said ‘Ours is a small country but we live to �ght in all walks of life.’ And I immediately realized this was the perfect metaphor for life in Cuba – that �ght to survive.” Lang’s �rst production as a �lm-maker, the documentary “Sons of Cuba”, has that struggle – a part of everyday life the locals refer to as La Lucha – at its heart but it also tells the very personal stories of the young Cubans looking for a way out through boxing. Speaking after the �lm screened at the FCC on March 2, Lang says during the 12 months that it took to shoot the 88-minute �lm, he 32
The La Lucha Academy has long been the breeding ground for Cuba’s remarkable success in the world of amateur boxing – the country has a population of just 11 million but has seen over the years its ﬁghters pick up 63 Olympic medals, including 32 gold.
found himself not only questioning what he saw going on around him in Cuba, but his own motivations as a �lm-maker too. “I was con�icted as to what to make of it,” he says. “On the one hand it was very inspiring and impressive to see young kids so disciplined and determined. On the other you see this system which takes its toll. I was also very aware of what the reaction to the �lm would be as people might take it as propaganda or as a criticism depending on their own politics. “I don’t think that’s something you can ever escape in Cuba or when you are �lming a story that is as much about Cuba as the people who feature in it.” �at’s a feeling that’s very much to the fore throughout the �lm. No matter what human dramas are playing out in the lives of the 10year-old protagonists, a far wider story is being played out in the background through the continuing turmoil of Cuba’s own story and that of its leader Fidel Castro, who has long driven the Cuban boxing system. �anks, he says, to the fact that he had an all-Cuban crew and to the fact that he had attended �lm school in the country, Lang was granted hitherto unimagined access to the secretive – to the outside world at least – operations of the Havana Boxing Academy during the course of the production, hence the intimate often brutally honest portrayal of the lives of the three kids the �lm focuses on. �e academy has long been the breeding ground for Cuba’s remarkable success in the world of amateur boxing – the country has a population of just 11 million but has seen over the years its �ghters pick up 63 Olympic medals, including 32 gold. But little of what actually goes on inside its gyms has been revealed until now. “We were pretty much left alone as I think everyone assumed it was a Cuban production,” he explains.
“And the kids became comfortable with having us around as we spent so much time with them.” Lang’s �lmmaking career began out of curiosity more than anything else. As part of his degree he was sent oﬀ to a Spanish speaking country for a year. He chose Chile where Lang simply began “fooling around” with video camera. But he soon found �lm the perfect medium to explore the world around him. “At �rst this �lm was just going to be 10 minutes,” says Lang. “But I saw that there was a much bigger story to be told.” “Sons of Cuba” took “12 months to shoot, 12 months to edit and 12 months to market,” says Lang, and the �lmmaker has been touring the world with his production since its release in 2009. Lang admits that the process of documentary �lm-making is an arduous and often thankless one. Despite “Sons of Cuba” winning much critical acclaim – with a clutch of awards including Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Latin American Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Rome Film Festival, both in 2009 – he accepts the fact that such �lms struggle to �nd an audience outside festivals and special screenings such as the one held at the FCC. “You put so much eﬀort and time in that it takes a lot out of you creatively and personally,” says Lang. “But, having said that, that doesn’t diminish the desire to tell stories and that’s what I hope I can keep doing.”
“At ﬁrst this ﬁlm was just going to be 10 minutes. But I saw that there was a much bigger story to be told… We were pretty much left alone as I think everyone assumed it was a Cuban production… And the kids became comfortable with having us around as we spent so much time with them,” says ﬁlmmaker, Andrew Lang, pictured bottom left, with one of the young La Lucha boxers.
Stiletto By Max Kolbe
Press tyranny in China, Indochina It must be said that China, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia are hardly darlings of the media establishment. In Beijing they’re jumping at their own shadows in response to the protests that have toppled rulers in the Middle East while thugs in Indochina have come out to play. The Chinese government is threatening to expel foreign journalists as the Jasmine Revolution left dear leaders doubting how much their people actually liked them. Bloomberg’s Stephen Engle was beaten while others were detained. Foreign journalists were also read the riot act and harassed by security forces for turning up at small gatherings. Warnings were issued that correspondents risked having their visas revoked and the authorities again revealed how thin their skin is. Gilles Lordet, research coordinator for Asia at Reporters without Borders, says China has increased its control over the media and critics since human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October (pictured). “It shows the nervousness of the government about demonstrations, about the possibility of the demonstrations in the Middle East can have an impact on a network of human rights defenders, journalists and defenders of freedom of expression in China,” he said. In Burma It had to happen. Nobody expected the junta to let the good times roll once last November’s “elections” were done. And... authorities arrested Australian publisher Ross Dunkley, and threw him behind bars in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison.
His arrest followed a story by The Irrawaddy magazine about an internal power struggle at Myanmar Consolidate Media, publisher of the heavily censored weekly Myanmar Times. The arrest of Dunkley, a free trade advocate, speaks volumes for the bullying of a junta that believes November’s elections were also grounds for the dropping of sanctions against it. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has opposed the lifting of punitive measures, prompting Burma’s state media to warn that Suu Kyi and her party will meet tragic ends if they keep up their support of Western sanctions. Suu Kyi noted this during a recent audio conference from Rangoon with correspondents in Kuala Lumpur. “I am not certain exactly why Ross Dunkley has been arrested but certainly one thing I can say is that there is no freedom of the media yet in Burma and it helps if people try to expand the limits of what journalists can do in Burma.” She adds even Burma cannot escape 21st century technology that has signiﬁcantly expanded the ability of people to organize without government interference, a major factor behind the protests in the Middle East. “Those who know about those events are comparing what’s happening there with
what happened in Burma 1988 ... Everybody is waiting around to see with great interest what transpires because people were impressed with what happened, particularly in Egypt.” Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Le Hoang Hung, a 50-year-old journalist died, after being set on ﬁre while sleeping. Hung had worked for The Worker covering the southern Mekong Delta and earned himself a reputation for investigating ofﬁcial corruption. According to reports he was scheduled to cover a court case involving a local ofﬁcial being sued for misappropriation of land. An intruder broke into Hung’s home and doused him with chemicals and set him alight. Another worrying regional development is that Cambodia could be losing its lustre as a haven for the free press. In the early 1990s the United Nations arrived and the authorities appeared tolerant of journalists who knew their own mind. As such eyebrows were raised when Om Yentieng, head of the government’s anti-corruption unit and the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, conﬁscated tapes from journalists after a recent press conference he had given. He objected to questions about a grenade attack on opposition supporters in 1997 when 16 died and more than 100 were injured. Nobody has been held responsible. Government spokesman, Phay Siphan, later said ofﬁcials had the right to conﬁscate recordings if the questions create trouble. The journalists held government press cards. Their gear was returned after their photos were deleted. It’s a worrying trend
Then and Now
The Hong Kong Skyline. Images by Bob Davis
wallas are still very much in use to cross over to Hong Kong from Kowloon, sailing junks still glide across the harbour and Jardine House (then Connaught Centre) is the largest building in town.
ďŹ shermen still make use a walla walla of sorts, the Star Ferry still remains prominent but Jardine House is lost in a forest of much taller high rises. ÂŠ Bob Davis. www.bobdavisphotographer.com THE CORRESPONDENT
Meanwhile in the Main Bar
Cocoa, the bitter sweet truth
Image: Bob Davis
The BBC’s Humphrey Hawksley spoke at the FCC in February to talk about the tragic link between slavery and chocolate, writes Jonathan Sharp. The next time you bite into a chocolate, remember the tale that Humphrey Hawksley has to tell about how the cocoa, the prime ingredient in your chocolate, is harvested. It’s a story that Hawksley, the BBC’s globe-trotting foreign correspondent and author, says is “very close to my heart”. And it’s painful. But from the point of view of hard-nosed and hardpressed professional journalists, it is also heartening. It shows that investigative reporting is by no means a dead-in-the-water craft, even in the digital era of shrinking news-gathering budgets and dumbed-down news. As told in his documentary Bitter Sweet, and as Hawksley recounted at an FCC lunch, kids of about 11 years old in West African countries neighbouring Ivory Coast, whose economy depends on exporting cocoa, are lured into that country by being invited to
join the Ivory Coast football club. What in cruel reality happens is that they are taken to cocoa plantations, where they live in huts, are shackled at night, and if they show any signs of trying to escape, have their feet beaten. They are not paid for their work on the plantations. And they never get to play for a football club. Further shockingly, when researching the story, Hawksley discovered that the chocolate companies proﬁting from this slave labour were in total denial about the dreadful conditions in the plantations. One company went to the extent of complaining to the BBC’s Head of News about the coverage of the story, even before Hawksley’s documentary was aired. So, in this era of instantly updated rolling news, when, as Hawksley says, “you really are doing it on the hoof”, there is still
room for in-depth research and reporting. “They do give you time to do that sort of thing – touch wood.” To illustrate the dramatic technological advances that, Hawksley says, are overtaking events, he said that when the U.S. armed forces went into Afghanistan post 9/11, they had to rely on old Soviet-era maps to ﬁnd out where they were. Now, soldiers manning checkpoints have gadgets that do simultaneous translation, enabling instant communication with the local population. And, as with SatNav, the new technology is paid for by commercializing it. Hawksley cited people at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as saying the translation equipment will soon be coming to a store near you – because the U.S. needs someone to pay for it.
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Club Events, May 2011 Tues. May 3rd Speaker Lunch: James Guest, President of U.S. Consumer Union “The Fight for Fair Financial Services: A Battle the Consumer Movement Must Win”
Thurs. May 5 Speaker Lunch: Leo Goodstadt , former Chief Policy Advisor to HK Govt. “How the West Created and China survived the Global Financial Crises”
RAY CRANBOURNE – Editorial, Corporate and Industrial. Manila Tel: (63) 917 838 0273 HK Tel: (852) 9072 9578 BOB DAVIS – Corporate/Advertising/Editorial Tel: (852) 9460 1718 Website: www.BOBDAVISphotographer.com
Fri. May 6 South African Wine Tasting and Dinner
Sun. May 8 Mother’s Day buffet
PAUL BAYFIELD – Financial editor and writer and editorial consultant. Tel: (852) 9097 8503 Email: bayﬁeldhk@hotmail.com
Mon. May 9 Speaker Lunch: Elsie Leung, topic to be conﬁrmed
Writer and Ghostwriter
May 11-21 French Food Fantasia
MARK REGAN – Experienced writer & editor of fact or ﬁction. Tel: (852) 61081747 Email: email@example.com Website: www.markregan.com
Will Writing And Estate Planning WILL WRITING – Have you had your Will written Yet? Tel: 2561 9031 and speak with Jessica Park Professional Wills Ltd. – Hong Kong’s leading Will Writing company. Web: www.profwills.com
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Psychotherapy FEELING ALL STRESSSSSSED OUT – British trained stress buster Alistaire Hayman psychotherapist/ hypnotherapist will solve your problems and put the fun back into your life. Call Mindworks tel: 9078 1859 and start living again.
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Thurs. May 12 Speaker Lunch: Borge Ousland, Polar Explorer and Felix Tschudi, Norwegian shipowner, “The new Northern Sea Route: the answer to piracy?” Mon. May 16 Speaker Lunch: Robert Bickers, Author “The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire,1832-1914” Tues. May 17 Portuguese Wine Dinner Carlos Teixeira, Winemaker of Quinta de Lixa Winery Ana Pereira, Ambassador of DFE Filipe Miranda, Ambassador of Gloria Reynolds Mon. May 23 Speaker Lunch: Prof. Shaun Breslin, University of Warwick “China’s Soft Power” Tues. May 24 Speaker Lunch: Martin Brudermueller, BASF Thurs. May 26 Speaker Lunch: Bill English, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Fri. May 27 Jazz Dinner The Asian All-Stars Power Quartet Mon. May 30 Argentine Wine Dinner Gustavo Ursomarso, Winemaker, Terrazas de los Andes
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Tues. May 31 Lunch Bruce Rockowitz, Li & Fung All subject to change - see www.fcchk.org for updates FCC Elections: Completed ballots must be received by the Club, either by mail or in the ballot box, not later than 3pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Candidate bios & policy statements are available at www.fcchk.org
Mothers Day Buﬀet Sunday, May 8, 2011 12:00noon – 3:00pm
$358 for adults $149 for kids aged 3 – 11 …
Handmade accessories and decorate a cupcake for Mum A selection of your favorite dishes, including (for adults) a grilled half lobster with herbed butter … Please reserve with the FCC restaurant at (tel) 2523 7734 (fax) 2868 4092 or (email) firstname.lastname@example.org No cancellation will be accepted after noon on Wednesday, May 4, 2011
JAZZ DINNER - FRIDAY MAY 27, 2011
The Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet is coming together 6:30 pm Main Dining Room, FCC Members $468 / Non-members $498 3-course dinner set includes welcome drink
Please reserve with the FCC reception (tel) 2521 1511 Guests please present voucher upon your arrival (fax) 2868 4092 or (email )email@example.com No cancellation will be accepted after noon FCC MAGAZINE 33
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