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‘Never a more exciting time to be a journalist’: Asia’s talent gathers for second FCC Journalism Conference

Some of the region’s most talented journalists shared tips and views on reporting in an era censorship, fake news and tweeting presidents during the FCC’s second journalism conference.

The day-long event saw panels and workshops tackling the everyday struggles of reporting from Hong Kong and China. Special guest Evan Osnos, staff writer at the New Yorker, joined via Skype to talk about the difficulties now faced by U.S. reporters writing about the Trump administration.

“I don’t think there’s a more exciting time to be a journalist,” said FCC president Eric Wishart as he closed the conference on April 29.

Left to right: Keith Richburg, Paul Mozur, Miguel Toran and Juliana Liu discuss the difficulties of covering China. Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham Left to right: Keith Richburg, Paul Mozur, Miguel Toran and Juliana Liu discuss the difficulties of covering China. Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham

Earlier in the day guests heard from top editors and reporters on the challenges of reporting the facts at a time when fake news was so prolific it could sway an election result.

Workshops focused on writing to length under pressure and how graphics are being increasingly used to effectively tell stories to an audience bombarded with facts from different multiple sources.

In the workshop for freelancers, tips were shared by a panel including FCC board member Kate Whitehead, Zach Coleman of Nikkei Asian Review, Mark Jones of Cedar Hong Kong, and freelancer Vaudine England.

“As a freelancer you should have a website and pay attention to your LinkedIn account,” said Whitehead, who added that she often uses the social network to find potential story leads.

England advised freelancers to “go to places where there aren’t staff correspondents. Laos, Vietnam… are places that aren’t covered.”

Coleman’s advice was to build relationships, and build a reputation for yourself as a freelancer.

Telling the Hong Kong story to the world was the subject of a later workshop featuring foreign correspondents from the Guardian, Reuters, Financial Times and Bloomberg. Anne Marie Roantree, Hong Kong Bureau Chief at Reuters, said that during Occupy Central in 2014, her team used spot news to tell a wider story about the protests, bringing those stories together for special report on Beijing tracking down activists.

Benjamin Haas of the Guardian said Hong Kong had appeal globally because “there’s a lot drama in Hong Kong that you don’t get in stories on mainland China”. Panel members agreed that covering investigative stories on corrupt business practices in Hong Kong was expensive and time consuming, with time being a luxury most reporters don’t have.

Similarly, the panel on covering China focused on how difficult it is to work in a country where the government refuses to give out basic information requested by journalists.

FCC president Eric Wishart said after the conference: “At a time when fake news and alternative facts seem to be dominating the discussion,  the conference showed that  journalism is stronger, more diverse and more vibrant than ever.

“And as we approach the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, the conference also confirmed the FCC’s role as a beacon of press freedom in an increasingly difficult and dangerous environment for journalists.”

Gary Liu: Messaging apps will overtake Facebook as primary news source

News publishing is on the cusp of a new era which will see articles primarily shared through messaging apps, the CEO of South China Morning Post has suggested.

Gary Liu, previously CEO of aggregate news site Digg, outlined the struggles facing news organisations as advertising and print revenues decline and social media sites like Facebook become primary sources of news for so many.

“People are now going to fewer sources. Right now Facebook is a leader in that,” he said. But he added: “The age of the app is moving on. People are going to messenger apps. We’re on the cusp of a new era.”

Gary Liu, CEO of South China Morning Post, gave conference guests a glimpse of the future: Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham Gary Liu, CEO of South China Morning Post, gave conference guests a glimpse of the future: Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham

Liu, a former executive at music streaming service Spotify, also proclaimed the homepage dead, an opinion first floated by the New York Times in its innovation report published in 2014.

He said publishers needed to think about their content and its delivery in an entirely new way: “Publishers have to think about two different types of platform: discovery and consumption.”

He said 90% of people now visit messaging apps every day, adding that it will become the primary “discovery and consumption” platform for publishers.

Liu explained that since so many people get their news from social media – quoting a Reuters report that stated 46% of U.S. adults now consume their news on Facebook – publishers were “no longer a world where our product is the world’s best, most accurate narrative on what’s going on”.

He added: “We should look at this as golden opportunity for news.” Liu said that the digital age had brought storytelling with reach not previously available in human history and encouraged publishers to innovate.

“Our brands are at risk… 50% of U.S. adults don’t look at the publisher name,” he said.

Liu avoided talking in depth about his new role at the 115-year-old SCMP, which was bought by China tech giant Alibaba in late 2015 – a move which prompted fears it would adopt a pro-establishment stance. He said the company was “still trying to figure out what our transformation will look like”.

Journalists need to fact check more than ever to stamp out fake news, conference told

Journalists must “double down” on their jobs now more than ever to fight the tidal wave of fake news, the FCC Journalism Conference was told.

Verify your information, quote your sources and use data to ensure you become a trusted source was the message from the opening panel.

The cream of the region’s reporters and editors gathered to discuss the challenges facing news organisations with the rise of unverified news, much of which has been blamed as contributing to the recent election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Left to right: Gerry Mullany, Eric Wishart and Jodi Schneider discuss the challenges of fake news. Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham Left to right: Gerry Mullany, Eric Wishart and Jodi Schneider discuss the challenges of fake news. Photo: FCC/Sarah Graham

Introduced by moderator Eric Wishart, FCC President, Gerry Mullany of the New York Times joined Bloomberg’s Jodi Schneider; Simon Gardner of Reuters; and Yumiko Ono of the Wall Street Journal at the opening of the April 29 conference. They discussed how difficult it has become to report political developments under Trump’s administration.

Schneider said journalism was harder now “because the agenda is being set by Trump through tweets” and the way that Whitehouse press briefings were now being controlled. Those tweets can’t be ignored, she added, but it was important now more than ever to use data to verify them. She said research showed “where there’s no name attached to a quote people tend to disbelieve it” and said she hoped that in times of crisis people would go to the trusted sources for their news.

Mullany described attacks on the press by Trump as “very dangerous” but added that “there are so many fake news stories because there’s an audience for it”.

Social media was also highlighted as a vehicle for the spread of fake news. Ono said the Wall Street Journal was doing “a lot of soul-searching” in trying to discover who its audience is and what they want as the organisation tries to combat fake news.

Reuters’ Simon Gardner revealed the head teacher at a Hong Kong school he recently visited said the school was trying to teach pupils about fake news and the importance of verified news sources – he added: “I hope next year we’ll be talking about the death of fake news at this conference.”

The FCC’s second journalism conference kicked off with an interview with the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, who has been covering Trump’s administration for the magazine. He talked about America’s white nationalist media and how it subjected him to antisemitic attacks.

He said he believed that before the Trump administration is out it will “make a serious effort to try to stifle the press”, but added that “there is an accountability… I think Donald Trump is in a much more precarious position…” than the administration thinks in a legal sense.

“Stay tuned,” he added.

Club notice: Typhoon and club operations

When the Hong Kong Observatory announces that Signal No. 8 or above is hoisted, which means limited operations at the club today.

The Club will open at 12:00 noon and the ground floor and main bar will open with a limited menu and will close at midnight.

Stay safe everyone!

Club notice: Typhoon and club operations

When the Hong Kong Observatory announces that Signal No. 8 or above is hoisted, which means limited operations at the club today.

The Club will open at 12:00 noon and remain normal operation.

If the T8 is lowered between 12:00 noon and before 5pm, the Club will be back to normal operation in three hours after the T8 is lowered.

If the T8 is not lowered before 5pm, the ground floor will open with a limited menu and will close at midnight.

If a Black Rainstorm Warning is hoisted during normal operating hours, the Club will remain open.

Stay safe everyone!

Club notice: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor fight broadcast is carry on

Typhoon No. 8 will hoist around 8:00 hours this morning, just news from TVB.

The Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor fight broadcast is carry on as per the schedule.

Stay safe everyone!

Wall Street traders use transcendental meditation to ‘deal with challenges like a Ninja’

A growing number of stressed-out traders on Wall Street are turning to transcendental meditation in order to ‘deal with challenges like a Ninja’, according to an expert in the field.

Author and transcendental meditation teacher James G. Meade extolled the virtues of mindfulness at the April 24 club lunch. Photo: FCC/Sarah Millson Author and transcendental meditation teacher James G. Meade extolled the virtues of mindfulness at the April 24 club lunch. Photo: FCC/Sarah Millson

Author and transcendental meditation teacher James G. Meade told the April 24 club lunch that the biggest reason traders came to him for help was anxiety, with many working at least 18-hour days.

The solution, he said, was simple: two sessions of just 20 minutes each day had given many in the finance industry ‘an extremely effective antidote to stress’. Meade cited Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, who introduced transcendental meditation to his entire company. Dalio told Business Insider: “I did it because it’s the greatest gift I could give anyone — it brings about equanimity, creativity, and peace.”

Watch the club lunch here 

Meade, author of books including The Answer to Cancer: Is Never Giving It a Chance to Start, said working on Wall Street was highly pressured, adding: “There’s no time for sleep. Transcendental meditation is instant deep rest at will. It’s a technology.”

He added: “We do make you peaceful, it’s extremely peaceful.

“It develops the mind and the emotions… We become more appreciative of other people. Also in the world of stock brokers… we have instances where they’ll say ‘my staff asked what are you doing that’s different? How come you’re coming out and talking to us, you’re friendly where you were not before?’ So actually people become nicer.”

Meade demonstrated how the ‘whole brain gets bathed in this alpha and the stress becomes less’. Using a video of a live transcendental meditation session, he showed the difference in brain waves once someone becomes relaxed.

Hollywood director David Lynch, Beach Boy Mike Love and outspoken radio DJ Howard Stern are all advocates of transcendental meditation, Meade said.

In pictures: The Hong Kong Riots of 1967

The 1967 riots of Hong Kong left 51 people dead and hundreds more injured. Although the initial outbreaks of violence followed labour disputes, the riots were soon driven by fighting between pro-communists and their sympathisers, and the establishment. As the FCC hosts a photographic exhibition looking back at the violent events, we publish some of those powerful images from Hong Kong’s bloodiest episode.

Typhoon and club operations

A Typhoon Signal #8 signal has been raised, which means limited operations at the club today.

The Club will open at 12:00 noon and remain normal operation.

If the T8 is lowered between 12:00 noon and before 5pm, the Club will be back to normal operation in three hours after the T8 is lowered.

If the T8 is not lowered before 5pm, the ground floor will open with a limited menu and will close at midnight.

If a Black Rainstorm Warning is hoisted during normal operating hours, the Club will remain open.

Stay safe everyone!

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