Foreign Correspondent turns 104 Reply

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Clare and Zhou Enlai

If you have ever been to the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club, you might have seen  the Grande Dame of journalism, Clare Hollingworth, holding court in the library. The library has a special place in journalism, not that there are many books there. If you managed to get your self killed on assignment in the Viet Nam war, you got to have you photo on the wall there. Clare was on assignment long before that. She covered the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. She’s now 104! More…

Self censorship in Thailand Reply

GQ-Thailand-James-Jirayu-December-2014-CoverThailand’s media may look modern and espouse free speech but its hedged by self censorship and hemmed by traditional values. Vorani Vanijaka, the Editor of Thailand’s GQ, is keenly aware of the contradictions.

He’s a former political commentator, who has managed to offend many of Thailand’s elite. “You can criticise anyone from the Prime Minister down, which is something you can’t do in most southeast Asian countries” he said. Thailand boasted of a sophisticated and pervasive media, including the million circulation Thai Rath newspaper, national television networks and  hundreds of radio stations.

But there were unstated limits on what Thai journalists reported.

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Treading on the toes of the powerful Reply

cobrapostInvestigative journalism takes money, time and skill. If you listened to your accountant, you would never do it.
Aniruddah Bahal is the founder and editor in chief of CobraPost, a non profit Indian Investigative journalism website. He was in Sydney to speak at the Storyology conference organised by the Walkley Foundation.

We try to expose stories about political corruption and religious misconduct. We want to bring accountability in our system and deepen democracy. In India, we have a lot of wasteful spending. If we can do stories pulling up organisations or people for having misspent resources, we can go a long way benefiting the Indian economy.

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Voicing the voiceless : Swara 1

swaracover-smallNews is being re-defined in India where citizen journalists use mobile phones  to create a grass roots news gathering network.

To seek accuracy and foster credibility, their stories were fact checked by professional journalists employed to review submitted material. More…

The death of newspapers? 3

In Australia, we hear a lot about a crisis in journalism, caused by newspapers’ decline.

But perhaps thats because we get much of our international news from the United States where there appear to be genuine problems with the big newspaper groups whose revenue underpinned much of its quality news. These rather gloomy stories are spread by mainstream news  distribution systems which still inform many globalised discussions.

Reports of the death of Australian newspapers were premature, according to The Newspaper Works. The State of Australian Newspapers 2011, published by Newspaper Works, claimed that Australian newspaper revenue had bounced back by 6% in 2010 after a big decline caused by the Global Financial Crisis. More…

Journalism’s futures 1

A streetside newsagency in Beijing.

If there is a crisis in journalism, its centred in American newspaper groups whose economic models have been undermined by the net.

We know that most Americans are too ideologically blinkered to even consider taxpayer supported alternatives like the BBC or the ABC. If anyone doesn’t consider obvious answers for the future, it would seem to be some of our American colleagues.

We should learn from American media. But the action is increasingly elsewhere, as information and cultural dominance begins to shift from the US towards the new economic superpowers. While we should be concerned about journalists’ jobs in older media empires, this is the future we need to address.

I reckon we should be looking to Asia, where journalism is booming.
Sure some Americans have been doing interesting things on the net. But there are now more than 300 million Chinese net users, plugged into a vibrant blogosphere which often critiques and interacts with government policies.

In Australia, we see the ABC’s News 24 as an important initiative, and considered locally, it is. But when I was in Beijing last year, I took my student interns to the CCTV master control, which was simultaneously broadcasting 40 high definition channels. China has just launched a new, global English-language television channel,operated by the Xinhua News Network. To quote my old pal, Hong Kong University Professor, Ying Chan:

“At a time when western media is retreating … China could be flooding the world with its perspective, giving the country a boost of soft power” said Chan. “With a lot of funding and improvements in its reporting, this new expansion should not be written off.”

The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism did a study this year on the explosion of international television news services. When it comes to such news, most people in the west think of CNN,or perhaps the BBC or al Jazeera. We identified more than fifteen major services, including innovative new news channels from France, Russia and even Iran. We found more than fifty minor services operating in the Indian sub-continent alone.

Perhaps our focus on American concerns about journalism may be another post colonial hangover, reflecting the ways we still get our news and agendas from the traditional sources, which privilege American newspapers justifiably worried about their futures.

So why are Australians holding a national conference about the future of journalism which takes the lead from American experts?

The Walkley Media Conference: “What’s the story? Powerful narrative and other tales from the future”, runs from August 9-12 in Sydney.

Asia online Reply

Master control at CCTV in Beijing.

Global media is at a tipping point. The western news establishment is reeling as profits collapse and revenue moves to the internet. Only today, Canwest, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, with twelve daily newspapers, sought bankruptcy protection for its entire newspaper division. Canwest is not the first big newspaper chain to go bust. It won’t be the last. The old international news order, which has been dominated by the west since the invention of the telegraph, is undergoing radical and widespread change, driven by the internet.
But what many people maybe don’t realise is that while there’s a crisis in the west, its boom time in Asian media.
Already, there may be almost three times as many internet users in Asia as in north America. As literacy grows and fast broadband spreads to even the most remote communities, the gap will grow even wider. Cheap new technology will mean that this new majority will not only be media consumers but also be increasingly sophisticated producers.
Which is why I’ve spent the last few days in Singapore.
I’ve been attending the Board meeting of AMIC, the Asian centred media research group, which has been investigating and charting these changes. Based in Singapore, AMIC is a truly international organisation with Board members from Malaysia, India, Japan, the Philippines and yours truly from Australia.
It was set up with German assistance more than thirty years ago to promote and educate socially responsible media in the interests of development and democracy. Today it runs websites, published scholarly books, organises training workshops and holds an annual conference which bring together academics, practitioners and activists from all over the Asia Pacific. This year, they will be discussing the new wave sweeping through “Technology and Culture: Communication Connectors and Dividers”.
AMIC might not have all the answers to what’s going on. But Asia is where the real questions will be asked.

Learning journalism in China Reply


Journalism educators need to think beyond the classroom to serve students facing internet driven cultural change. The first wave of change, online interactivity, is already breaking on once dominant newspaper groups. The second wave, Asia centred communications, has begun to challenge western dominance of international news and culture.

This year I took a group of QUT journalism students to China for a month, to work on its English language newspapers and publish online. Their project, which included research, internships, publication and reflection, aimed to create deeper and more nuanced learning than might be possible in conventional class groups.

You can access the report on this project by going to http://http://www.ejournalist.com.au/ejournalist_chinatrip.php. It includes examples of student work, photographs, opinions, links to published items and the Facebook page which held it all together.

Upfront and close with Chinese journalism Reply


Learning at Australian universities can be pretty boring. Most of the extra curricular activities I enjoyed have been shorn away as contemporary students struggle to make a living and pay their way. “Full Time” students now complain about going to lectures which can conflict with their jobs.

When I was a visiting Professor at Hong Kong University, they reckoned that only about a third of what students learned at university came from classes. Hong Kong University, unlike its Australian competitors, has a student social life enriched by active clubs and colleges. That’s how HKU students learn about team work, democracy, running budgets and social responsibility.

How can we make the learning experience not only more authentic, but more fun?

We can create special projects.

Six QUT journalism students (five pictured) are about to go to China for a month to explore Chinese journalism practices. They will be meeting Australian foreign correspondents, visiting China Daily, Global Times and CCTV. They will give seminars at Chinese Communications University.
The trip is being heavily subsidised by QUT as an Outward Mobility grant aimed at getting students to Asia.

The visit has been structured as part of their studies and will include research, work experience and reflective learning.