September 2021

Message from Keith

Welcome back to a new academic year!

It was great to see our journalism students back face-to-face for the start of the semester.  Hong Kong is still trying to tamp down a smattering of Covid-19 cases, particularly the highly infectious Delta variant.  But at the University of Hong Kong, and here at HKU Journalism, we are back to in-person classes and face-to-face learning.

Of course, there are a few caveats, necessary in the interest of health and safety. Face masks are still de rigueur, classrooms can only be filled to three-quarters of the usual occupancy and students and staff are asked to exercise common-sense rules of hand sanitising and social distancing.  But unlike last year when much of the teaching was done remotely online, this year the campus is back to its normal buzz.

We have a few new faces in our programme, and we will be offering some new courses in the coming year. But our core mission remains the same — equipping our students with the tools they need to become professionals in the field and to train the next generation of storytellers across all platforms.

It’s also great to see so many students still interested in studying journalism.

After the disruptions and challenges of the past 18 months, particularly since the imposition of the new National Security Law in Hong Kong, it might have been expected to see a drop off in interest, with prospective students being concerned about treading into sensitive areas. It is heartening to see that so many students still recognise the value of journalism to society, as a way to hold power to account and give voice to the voiceless.

As I’ve said before, journalists pursuing truthful, fact-based, objective reporting should have nothing to worry about under the new security law. In fact, the challenges underscore what we strive to teach — that journalists should not be activists or advocates, but guided by only one thing: getting to the facts and telling the story as accurately as possible. There shouldn’t be any self-restraint, self-limitation or self-censorship. In other words, it’s full steam ahead.

We are at a fascinating inflection point in history. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to upend the global economy and expose weaknesses in national healthcare systems. The vaccine rollout has highlighted the disparity between the rich world and the poor. The effects of climate change are being felt daily with devastating wildfires, debilitating floods and record temperatures. Distrust in established institutions is at an all-time high, and there has been a growing global demand for social and racial justice.

All these issues need journalists to chronicle events and to find the human stories to tell. It’s what journalism is all about.  And there’s never been a better time to study journalism than right now.

Keith B. Richburg
Director, Journalism and Media Studies Centre


On August 25, our new BJ Programme Director, AJ Libunao, welcomed the class of 2025 to campus. During orientation day, the freshmen met with faculty and fellow students, and went on a scavenger hunt to explore Eliot Hall and the many facilities available to them.

Later that same week, on August 28, the MJ students had their orientation day. After hearing from faculty staff, a panel of alumni shared useful tips on how to make the most of the one-year MJ programme at HKU Journalism.

The 2021 Mick Deane Scholarship for Video Journalism was exceptionally rewarded to two finalists. Jason Xue Chi (MJ, 2021), from China, and Aimee Moon Jiyoung (MJ, 2021), from the U.S., impressed the judges and course instructors equally. “Both Aimee and Jason did superlative work, each in their own ways,” said MJ Programme Director and judge Matt Walsh. Read more here.

Over the course of the summer, HKU Journalism partnered with the Judith Neilson Institute to host the 2020 Asia Reporting Fellows. Following a three-day virtual workshop in early August, the fellows found partners among our students and alumni to collaborate on a Hong Kong-focused piece for publication in Australian media.

On July 7, HKU Journalism, together with CUHK and HKBU journalism schools, organised a symposium titled "Misinformation and Disinformation in Hong Kong," tackling complex questions with two expert panels of journalists, media educators and legal practitioners. Watch the recorded event here.

Faculty & Staff News

Dr. King-wa Fu joined Boston University's Center for the Study of Asia on a scholarship by the China-US Scholars Program. During a one-year sabbatical, Dr. Fu will work on his project, titled: "China’s Networked Decade: Implications for the Global Society"

HKU Journalism in the news
(31 August) Times Higher Education: Afghan universities 'in grave danger' under Taliban, by Joyce Lau (MJ 2022)
(27 August) South China Morning Post: Hong Kong should follow Singapore's lead and drop 'zero case' approach to Covid-19 (Cliff Buddle)

(19 August) Bloomberg: Hong Kong Activists Call Jimmy Lai ‘Mastermind’ in Security Case (Sharron Fast)

(17 August) South China Morning Post: Miscarriage of justice in Hong Kong legal system raises questions that must be answered (Cliff Buddle)

(11 August) The Diplomat: The Resilience of Japanese Whaling, by Gabriel Fung (BJ 2022)

(2 August) ProPublica: How a ProPublica Reporter Learned Scammers’ Secret Sauce (Cezary Podkul)

(29 July) South China Morning Post: Foreign journalists in China report state backing for rising intimidation during Henan floods (Keith Richburg)

(31 July) Slate Money Podcast: The Super App Dream (Cezary Podkul)
(28 July) Times Higher Education: Hong Kong gets to grips with security law's 'invisible red line', by Joyce Lau (MJ 2022)
(8 July) Brookings TechStream: The 'lying flat' movement standing in the way of China's innovation drive, by David Bandurski
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