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Typhoon notice

Dear Members,

Tropical Storm WIPHA is approaching Hong Kong this afternoon. See our operation arrangement below:

Typhoon Signal No.3
The Club will operate as normal.

Typhoon Signal No.8
The Club will still open with limited service (subject to availability).

Typhoon Signal No.10
The Club will be closed.
If Typhoon Signal No. 10 is lowered after 18:00 the Club will remain closed until the following day’s regular opening time.
If it is lowered before 18:00, Club operations will resume two hours after the signal has been lowered.

Further details are available at the FCC on 2521 1511.
Stay safe everyone!

Book reveals the untold stories of those who fled China’s Communist Revolution

The personal stories of some of those who fled Shanghai in 1949 during the Communist Revolution feature in a new book, the first of its kind to be printed in English.

Author Helen Zia talked about her new book at the FCC. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Author Helen Zia talked about her new book at the FCC. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Author Helen Zia interviewed hundreds of Chinese exiles over 12 years in her bid to reveal the struggles faced by those living in what until then had been Asia’s most cosmopolitan city. In the end, she selected the stories of four people from differing backgrounds to feature in the book, Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution.

Zia told the FCC Club Breakfast on March 28 that her mother had always told her that she’d left China on the last boat out of Shanghai. Over the years, Zia said she met many exiles who all also repeated the claim that they were on that last boat.

She said that having told the stories of those who fled and the horrors they witnessed during the upheaval, she hoped that people would be more tolerant of refugees and appreciate their contribution to the societies they seek safety in.

Read more about Helen Zia’s book here.

Watch the full talk here.

Why journalism must adapt to survive, by ex-Guardian chief Alan Rusbridger

The digital revolution that has disrupted journalism is still in its infancy, says former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, and news organisations need to adapt if they are to survive.

Former Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, is interviewed by FCC President Florence de Changy on March 27. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Former Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, is interviewed by FCC President Florence de Changy on March 27. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Gone are the days when reporters hit ‘send’ on a story and head to the nearest pub, he told FCC members at a packed club dinner on March 27. Now the story begins at the point a journalist publishes their article. He cited Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist whose work breaking the Edward Snowden NSA leaks in 2013 earned the Guardian a Pulitzer Prize for public service. Greenwald famously interacts with his legions of readers as soon as his stories are published, enabling him to develop the piece further.

Rusbridger’s book, Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now, asks vital questions about the purpose of journalism at a time when 4 billion people can communicate with each other at the touch of a button. Questions like ‘is journalism is public service?’, and ‘is journalism better than the internet?’ are key themes of the book in which Rusbridger looks back at how the trade has evolved over the last few decades.

He cited divisive topics like Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump as having had an impact – largely negative – on the way news organisations approached stories. He spoke of the “bullying, hectoring front pages” of the British press during the lead up to the referendum on Europe, adding that the role of the media should have been to inform citizens to help them make a decision.

Such behaviour, coupled with the rise of social media as an aggregator of news and a growing frustration with the ruling elite, had led to disassociation among readers who felt they were no longer being heard. The knock-on effect has been a consistent drop in revenue among most news organisations, leaving them scratching around for the business model that works for them.

Rusbridger himself steered the Guardian through the early days of the digital revolution and by the time he stepped down in 2015, a membership model had been established that saved the newspaper from the prospect of folding. Today, he said, the Guardian has £1 billion in the bank and expects to break even this year.

“There’s a new model beginning to develop,” Rusbridger said, “and it strikes me that all that investigative journalism that we did turned out to be the business model.”

Art in China and Africa explored by panel of experts

The relationship between China and Africa, seen through the eyes of artists, was explained at the FCC as Art Basel kicked off in Hong Kong.

Left to right: McKinsey's Georges Desvaux, Meg Maggio, Director, Pékin Fine Arts, Beijing and Hong Kong;  and photographic artist Pieter Hugo. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Left to right: McKinsey’s Georges Desvaux, Meg Maggio, Director, Pékin Fine Arts, Beijing and Hong Kong; and photographic artist Pieter Hugo. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

A panel featuring a photographic artist, a curator, and an expert on African and Asian growth strategies discussed the evolution of contemporary art in Asia.

Panelists included Natasha Becker, who curates exhibitions in Cape Town’s Goodman Gallery, as well as organising public programs in global art history at Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts.

Photographic artist Pieter Hugo discussed how his upbringing as South African apartheid ended influenced him to create portrait photography across Africa’s marginalized communities, in places including Rwanda, exploring how history had left its mark on the younger generation.

Watch the full talk here.

Journalism in 2019 is dangerous and thankless – but we have a duty to report the truth, FCC conference hears

With some world leaders proclaiming journalists ‘enemies of the people’, journalism has never been more dangerous.

Left to right: Tim McLaughlin, Eric Wishart, Kristie Lu Stout and Sonny Swe discuss online abuse. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Left to right: Tim McLaughlin, Eric Wishart, Kristie Lu Stout and Sonny Swe discuss online abuse. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

But Asia’s top reporters, editors and photographers agree that reporting the truth is more essential than ever, despite the risks in doing so.

The FCC’s 4th Journalism Conference heard from a diverse range of journalists on March 23, each sharing their experiences of the challenges they face in conflict zones, on social media, and in Hong Kong.

Keynote speaker, Nicole Tung, gave an emotional talk on her experiences reporting from conflict zones and losing colleagues in the process. She said she is often asked by people why she risks her life to report from war zones. “It influences policy, it’s important for public knowledge. It’s a sense of duty,” she told the packed conference.

Emily Steel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter who uncovered multimillion-dollar settlements paid out by Fox News in relation to alleged sexual harassment allegations against host Bill O’Reilly, revealed the painstaking eight-month investigation that led to the exposé.

“We’d all heard the numbers of sexual harassment in the workplace but not the stories behind them,” she said of the reporting that kicked off the #MeToo movement.

Panels at the conference covered a wide range of topics, including how to cover cultural journalism, reporting on science and health, online security tips for journalists, a mobile storytelling workshop, and an all-female panel on how to get paid what you’re worth.

A discussion on press freedom in Hong Kong and the challenges journalists face in the city saw Kevin Lau of Ming Pao group talk about the brutal knife attack that left him hospitalised. Fellow panelists Chris Yeung of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and freelance writer Mary Hui agreed that incidents including the rejection of former FCC vice-president Victor Mallet’s visa had marked a worrying drop in press freedom in the city.

The conference’s closing panel saw CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout describe some of the vile personal attacks she has been subjected to by online trolls.

“The common denominator is hatred – it takes root online and is encouraged and turns into something extreme in the real world. We need to take these online threats and abuses more seriously,” she said.

A selection of the panels and workshops can be viewed on our Facebook page or by scrolling down this page.

An audience member asks a question at the mobile storytelling workshop. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Diana Jou, a panelist on the mobile storytelling workshop. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
Left: Kurt Lin and Abid Rahman, right. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Left: Kurt Lin and Abid Rahman, right. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
Amy Qin, left, and Kurt Lin. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Amy Qin, left, and Kurt Lin. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
Mallika Kapur interviews Emily Steel. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Mallika Kapur interviews Emily Steel. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
The panel on how to get paid what you're worth. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC The panel on how to get paid what you’re worth. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
Maru Hui, left, and Kevin Lau. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Maru Hui, left, and Kevin Lau. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC
Stevo Stephen, left, and Patricia Evangelista. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Stevo Stephen, left, and Patricia Evangelista. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

VIDEOS

Opening and Keynote Address

Press Freedom and the Dangers for Journalists in Asia

Workshop – Cultural Journalism: How Best to Cover Asian Culture and Beyond, and Avoid the Pitfalls

Noon panel: How Not To Get Sued

An Introduction to the Human Rights Press Awards, and A Conversation with Emily Steel

Workshop: Online Security Tips & Tools Every Journalist Should Know

Hong Kong Press Freedom – The Challenges Facing Local Journalists

Closing Panel: Online Threats Journalists Face in 2019 – part one

Closing Panel: Online Threats Journalists Face in 2019 – part two

U.N. Security Council must be more democratic to be efficient, says former Indian ambassador

The U.N. Security Council needs to be more representative and democratic if it is to survive a new Cold War, according to a former India Ambassador to the United Nations.

Dilip Sinha was head of India’s UN affairs during its membership of the Security Council (2011-2012). Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Dilip Sinha was head of India’s UN affairs during its membership of the Security Council (2011-2012). Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Created after the end of World War Two, the Security Council’s role was as global peacekeeper. In many instances, it has aptly fulfilled that role in the face of several conflicts to have taken place since its creation. But the dominance of the permanent five members – United Kingdom, China, France, United States and Russia – have brought the council to a deadlock, said Dilip Sinha, with few resolutions being made.

Addressing the March 21 club lunch, Sinha drew on his experience to explain why he felt the permanent five members had incapacitated the Council by aggressively strengthening their global dominance and protecting their spheres of influence.

He said he believed that the world could be witnessing the beginning of a new Cold War, although this one would be very different from the last, and that currently the Council was ineffective when to came to diffusing global tensions.

Watch the full talk here

China trying to influence the world’s media, says new report

China’s move to silence its critics in order to portray a more positive image is now reaching far beyond its borders, according to a new report.

Journalists Josh Chin and Yuan Yan and discuss deteriorating reporting conditions in China. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Journalists Josh Chin and Yuan Yan and discuss deteriorating reporting conditions in China. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Cedric Alviani, East Asia Bureau Director for the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders, detailed the way in which China is suppressing information ahead of the release of a 52-page report next Monday.

“Journalism as we know it does not have its place in China and actually currently the Chinese authorities are also trying, little by little, to suppress free journalism outside China when of course it relates to Chinese news,” Alviani told the March 20 club lunch.

He added: “If we had met 10 years ago the purpose would have been as an NGO ‘how can we improve the situation in China?’. Now the question is ‘how can we protect democracies from the activities of China in this domain?’”

The Chinese authorities are spending in the region of US$10 billion per year on manipulating and modifying the perception of China in the modern media, he said. An example is China Watch, a pro-Beijing ‘news’ supplement being carried by international media including The New York Times and The Washington Post. China was also buying major stakes in media companies around the world, Alviani said.

His sentiments were echoed by journalists Josh Chin and Yuan Yang, also board members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, who pointed to falling revenues of news organisations in the West as a reason for them accepting Chinese investment.

“Even though the New York Times and Washington Post and so on have increased their subscriber base over the last few years, the advertising revenues coming into the media industry as a whole has plummeted because, as we all know, the rise of ad tech giants like Google and Facebook,” Yang said.

The panel also talked about the increased harassment – both in person and online – of reporters in China, specifically those covering the persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China recently published its own report on deteriorating reporting conditions for journalists.

Watch the full talk here

New book lifts the lid on China’s Great Firewall

China’s Great Firewall is designed to block solidarity, and not to prevent its people from knowing what’s going on in the country in the first place, says the author of a new book on censorship.

James Griffiths revealed how China's Great Firewall works. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC James Griffiths revealed how China’s Great Firewall works. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Rather than impose a blanket ban on VPNs – virtual private networks that encrypt information such as location – Chinese authorities choose only to censor content that might lead to organised uprisings against the ruling Communist Party, said James Griffiths. What’s more, VPNs are used by many offices, banks, and embassies in China during their daily business activities, so the government is loathe to completely crack down on the networks.

China’s censorship model is one that is gradually being replicated around the world, warned Griffiths at the March 19 club lunch. Vietnam recently introduced a cybersecurity law with a similar framework to China’s, while Russia is also considering tightening up its laws, taking its lead from Beijing.

Griffiths, a senior producer at CNN and author of a new book, The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet, said skepticism of the internet and big tech companies could pave the way for democratic countries to introduce strict cybersecurity laws.

“This is a real danger,” he said.

He outlined two current models of internet use. The first – favoured by Silicon Valley – was based on the premise that information will set us free, and is one that is in the process of failing as it faced numerous recent challenges over privacy and the sharing of user information, Griffiths said. The second was the hyper-control model favoured by autocracies.

“Both models are unattractive for their own reasons,” he said, adding that a third model was needed.

Watch the full talk here.

Why the world needs journalism of hope

Bad news sells. It’s a central pillar of journalism, and its effect on the global population, whether intentional or not, is to project an image that humanity is on the verge of collapse. This, in turn, can lead to a sense of disenfranchisement, where only the elites seem to be heard, and ordinary people feel deprived of a voice.

Frédérique Bedos believes that a positive message can be disseminated through the media. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Frédérique Bedos believes that a positive message can be disseminated through the media. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

In the era of fake news, Isis, Brexit, and Trump, public distrust of institutions has never been higher. But all is not lost, says a journalist and filmmaker who is head of an NGO with the sole aim of spreading hope through journalism.

Frédérique Bedos believes that a positive message can also be disseminated through the media by highlighting the stories of humble heroes – for example, those who have overcome diversity – to inspire others into action.

“If you dream of a better world it’s up to you to build it because we are the world,” Bedos said.

Speaking at the March 18 club lunch, Bedos, a former journalist, said she was inspired to create Le Projet Imagine – The Humble Heroes by the story of her adopted parents. The couple adopted 20 children from all walks of life, some with disabilities. Bedos said she realised there were many positive stories to be told.

Le Projet Imagine is an NGO that produces short, medium-length and full-feature films that are inspirational and aim to move people to take action. The documentary, Women and Men, about gender inequality, has received worldwide accolades and was shown at Cannes in 2015. The NGO works to encourage the media to put more emphasis on stories that bring hope.

Watch the full talk here.

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