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The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare Hollingworth Fellowships

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare
Hollingworth Fellowships
FELLOWS
Amy Sood
Amy Sood is joining AFP after recently earning her master’s degree from the University of Hong Kong’s journalism program. She has previously interned with CNN and NBC News.
Hillary Leung
Hillary Leung is an Associate Editor at Coconuts Hong Kong, where she covers everything from politics to social issues. She was previously a reporter for TIME magazine and an intern at news verification agency Storyful.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is pleased to announce that it has chosen Amy Sood and Hillary Leung as recipients of the third annual Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, named in honor of the preeminent and path-breaking journalist.
The panel of judges noted the winners offer clear potential as future leaders both within the FCC and the wider Hong Kong journalism community.
The Fellowship is focused on early-career journalists and current journalism school students in Hong Kong.
The open competition drew significant interest from a cross spectrum of applicants. The adjudicators noted the high standard of applicants and encouraged all to apply again next year.
For further information on the Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, please visit https://www.fcchk.org/clarehollingworth/.

Military Conflict in the South China Sea Remains an Unlikely Outcome – Justice Antonio T. Carpio

Tensions and territorial disputes in the South China Sea are unlikely to result in warfare because of the Philippines’ mutual defence treaty with the United States, said former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio. 

“The Chinese know that they cannot afford to go to war with the Philippines,” Justice Carpio told FCC President Keith Richburg during a Zoom discussion on Monday night. “The last thing China would want is to give the US a legal excuse to intervene in the South China Sea dispute.”

Justice Carpio, who helped the Philippines win its landmark ruling at the Hague in July 2016, said that China’s strategy rests on intimidating other nations. He described the country’s mindset as “China will win the South China Sea without firing a single shot.”

He sharply criticised President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments regarding the South China Sea dispute during his final State of the Nation Address hours earlier. Duterte had reiterated his passive approach to the territorial conflict, asking “Do you want war against China?”

“We laugh at that because nobody’s talking of war in the South China Sea dispute,” Justice Carpio said. “That’s the reason we went to the Hague, because war is not an option.”

He said Duterte’s comments were misleading, and that the president has “become the spokesperson of China” by arguing that enforcing the ruling will lead to a military conflict. 

Duterte is currently finishing out his final term, and presidential elections are due in 2022, but Justice Carpio said he did not believe that the South China Sea issue or relations with China would be major issues for most Filipino voters.

Watch the full discussion here:

“In order to have a democracy, you must share a common set of facts” – Marty Baron

The proliferation of online disinformation sites purporting to be legitimate news has created an incredibly difficult and hostile environment for journalism, said Marty Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post, in a discussion moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg. 

“Consumption of media is now more polarised than it probably ever has been, and that’s not a great result for us,” Baron said. “Because in order to have a democracy, you have to share a common set of facts.” 

He said that increased education around media literacy and journalists being more transparent about their reporting were both necessary steps to combat the unchecked spread of disinformation. 

Asked if President Trump had been successful in sowing distrust against the media, Baron said yes but acknowledged that Trump’s cries of ‘fake news’ had not been the sole cause. 

“Approval and trust in the media was declining well before that, but he accelerated and reinforced it,” Baron said. “Sadly, he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, disturbingly so, and we’re going to be dealing with that for decades to come.” 

During the discussion, Baron was asked about Post reporter Felicia Sonmez’s suspension and ban from covering sexual assault stories, with viewer Wayne Ma submitting the question, “Do you regret those decisions, what was the original thinking behind them and what has the Post done to ensure such incidents don’t happen again?” 

Baron said he did not want to comment on the case specifically but added “I don’t have any regrets.” As he was talking to the FCC, Sonmez filed a lawsuit in Washington D.C. against the Washington Post and several individuals including Baron.

Watch the full discussion below:

Income Disparity, Environmental Concerns Biggest Challenges Facing Chinese Communist Party – Eric X. Li

China’s income disparity and environmental degradation are the biggest challenges currently facing the ruling Chinese Communist Party at the 100th anniversary of its founding, said Shanghai-based venture capitalist and political scientist Eric X. Li, who vigorously defended the party’s style of government while expressing doubts about liberal democracies around the world.

“Liberal societies should learn from the party state in China,” Li said. “The party state in China has been very good at self-criticism – that’s why they reinvent themselves. Liberal societies have been failing at that for decades.”

In a spirited Zoom webinar moderated by FCC President Keith Richburg, Li said the CCP had embarked on its third “reinvention” since winning power 72 years ago and transitioning to a government party and then embarking on an openness and reform policy in 1979. This latest reinvention, he said, is driven by a desire to tackle income inequality and achieve a more “balanced growth.” He added that a focus on repairing the environment was a second major priority.

He said that Western countries such as the United States need to be less arrogant, then went on to dismiss the suggestion that the CCP needs to legitimize its rule through elections or referendums because such processes have caused dysfunction and paralysis in liberal democracies.

“I think democracy needs a new set of measurements,” Li said. “I think democracy needs to be measured by outcome, not procedure.”

Asked why the CCP has little tolerance for dissent or criticism, Li countered that there is plenty of debate and difference of opinion in China, including among the party leadership. But he argued that the dissent found in liberal societies has no place in China.

“Just look at the countries that have it: they’re not being governed very effectively, they are polarized, their people hate each other, their media hate each other,” Li said. “We don’t want that.”

He also defended the more assertive, sometimes bombastic, stands by Chinese officials on social media — sometimes referred to as “Wolf Warrior diplomats” — saying Westerners were simply not used to Chinese standing up and loudly speaking back against criticism. 

“They’re seeing their country being demonized by Western politicians and media, and they’re reacting to it for the first time in many decades,” Lis said. “You’d better get used to it.”

Aside from issues of income inequality and the environment, Li argued the CCP needs to steer younger generations away from populism and nationalism toward “productive socialism” and “healthy patriotism.”

“If it can do this, it will deliver on the material and spiritual aspirations of China’s new generations and, as a result, stay in power for a very long time to come,” Li said. “Success is not assured, but I wouldn’t bet against it.”

Watch the full conversation:

Solidarity Amongst Journalists Needed as Apple Daily Closes – Brian Stelter

On the day that Apple Daily published its last edition following 26 years of operation, CNN’s Brian Stelter said in a webinar hosted by the FCC that journalistic solidarity is needed in challenging moments such as these. 

“Nothing unites journalists more than a threat against a newspaper or a publication or against journalism itself,” Stelter said. “Nothing unites this industry more than a moment like this.”

Speaking to FCC press freedom committee co-chair Eric Wishart, Stelter said that the shuttering of a newspaper like Apple Daily is something that resonates around the world and should be taken note of by an international audience.

“I would say solidarity is a critical component of this,” said Stelter, the anchor of Reliable Sources and author of the newly updated paperback version of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.

Asked if Apple Daily’s closure would resonate with people in the United States, he said that there would be some awareness but not enough, and that issues of press freedom in general deserve a bigger audience.

“We also have to tell the global story, that this is something that we’re seeing erosion [of] in many countries. All of us, including me, have to work on that,” said Stelter.

Watch the full conversation below:

FCC Expresses Deep Regret Over Closure of Apple Daily

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong wishes to express its deep regret at the announcement of the closure of Apple Daily.

Apple Daily has been a vibrant member of the Hong Kong media landscape for more than quarter of a century and a widely read source of information for many in the city.

The closure is a blow to the journalism community in Hong Kong and raises legitimate concerns over the future of press freedom in the city. It comes after government authorities froze its assets and arrested several top editors. 

The closure also has a major social impact and will leave hundreds of journalists, editorial production staff and other employees involved in the publication and distribution of the newspaper unemployed. 

The FCC calls on the Hong Kong media community to provide assistance for those now left jobless with the closure in finding new employment.

FCC Statement on Arrests and Search Involving Apple Daily

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is concerned over the arrest of five Apple Daily executives, including its editor-in-chief Ryan Law and deputy chief editor.

According to the Hong Kong police and media reports, the five were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces under the National Security Law and were undergoing questioning.

The FCC notes that the Hong Kong police’s search of the Apple Daily premises took place under a warrant “covering the power of searching and seizure of journalistic materials.” Press reports indicate that police searched journalists’ notes and files and accessed their computers.

We are not pronouncing on the legalities of the situation or today’s actions. However the Foreign Correspondents’ Club is concerned that this latest action will serve to intimidate independent media in Hong Kong and will cast a chill over the free press, protected under the Basic Law.

FCC Board of Governors 2021-2022 Election Result

Congratulations to the new FCC Board of Governors for 2021-2022. They will begin serving after the Annual General Meeting on May 25.

We would like to thank the outgoing Board members for their service.

The new Board members are listed below.

PRESIDENT

Keith Richburg

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT

Hannamiina Tanninen

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT

Tim Huxley

CORRESPONDENT GOVERNORS

Lucy Colback
Jennifer Hughes
Kristie Lu Stout
Iain Marlow
Shai Oster
Austin Ramzy
Dan Strumpf
Eric Wishart

JOURNALIST GOVERNORS

Clifford Buddle
Zela Chin

ASSOCIATE GOVERNORS

Genavieve Alexander
Liu Kin-ming
Christopher Slaughter
Richard David Winter

Hong Kong’s Courts Need to Maintain ‘Focus’ for the City’s Legal System to Endure – Former Judge Henry Litton

Hong Kong’s judiciary has lost its former efficacy and judges need to focus on remedies and practical issues rather than esoteric arguments, said Henry Litton, former judge of the Court of Final Appeal, in an FCC webinar. 

“What I think one needs to do is to really just focus on the actual issues, rather than to give the entire narrative,” Litton said. “What has been happening in a lot of the cases is that the judges really are not focused anymore.”

In his new book The Dance of Folly, or How Theatrics Have Tainted the Rule of Law, Litton argues the judiciary has been weakened over the past two decades by a culture of verbosity and philosophising when what’s needed is a focus on practical matters.

“That is how the rule of law is supposed to work, not dissolving into clouds of words, of theories, of arcane analyses and so on which bear no relationship with the actual issue and problem on the ground,” Litton told FCC Journalist Governor Cliff Buddle.

He outlined five cardinal rules for strengthening the judiciary and rule of law: effective action, discipline of law, ensuring the law has a cutting edge, focusing on remedies and preventing courtrooms from becoming places of debate. 

The former judge, who previously authored Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?, said these changes are needed to ensure the survival of the city’s legal system in the coming years. He predicted that a decision would be made in the next five or six years on whether the common law system will be Hong Kong’s governing system beyond June 2047. 

The courts adopting a more common sense approach would be seen as a favourable move by Beijing, Litton said, noting that the central government will ultimately decide the fate of the judiciary. He argued that a straightforward and effective judiciary would have a better chance of survival.

“For stability and prosperity, everyone everywhere would accept that when you have a legal system that actually works and functions, you should not dismantle it and try to replace it because there would be total chaos for many, many years, for generations maybe,” Litton said. 

You can watch the full discussion below.

Independent Journalists Crucial to Exposing the Scale of India’s Coronavirus Catastrophe – FCC Panel

Local and independent reporters have played an essential and often high-risk role in revealing the true scale of India’s CVOID-19 catastrophe while many in the mainstream media have preferred to parrot the government’s narrative, journalists Barkha Dhutt and Rana Ayyub said in an FCC webinar.

They spoke amid a spiralling death count from the virus in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been accused of downplaying the scale of the disaster while failing to provide essentials like oxygen to hospitals and vaccines to the population.

The government’s attempts to defend its response have been amplified by often compliant national media, the speakers said. Meanwhile, journalists reporting from hospitals and cremation sites have been branded “vultures” while Western coverage has been labelled anti-Indian and imperialistic.

“Most of the news channels are run by big investors, big industrialists who are craven and help Narendra Modi with his election campaigning, so you don’t expect them to speak truth to power”, said Ayyub, an investigative journalist and global opinions editor at The Washington Post.

As a result, grassroots reporting has been essential in telling the story, Dutt and Ayyub said in the webinar moderated by FCC First Vice President Eric Wishart. 

Dutt, an opinion columnist with The Hindustan Times and The Washington Post whose father recently died of COVID-19, gave the example of images that emerged of bodies floating in Indian rivers as cremation and burial services became overwhelmed.  

“These have come from people who are not famous journalists, who are just young stringers on the ground”, she said. “Despite the attempts to control big media, technology is liberating and anyone today with a phone and a spine is telling the stories that the world needs to see”.

“I want to acknowledge the work of really vulnerable reporters who do not have health insurance, have no organizational affiliation, these really extraordinary boots on the ground in our smaller towns and in our cities”.

At the same time, local journalists who dare to challenge local authorities live in fear of retribution. 

Ayyub cited the example of a local journalist who sent her videos of 450 funerals in one day but refused to be quoted in an article she was writing for The Washington Post. “The chief minister of the state will make my life sad and miserable, and I will be thrown behind bars”, he told her.

Around 70 people describing themselves as “Concerned and Upset Indians” sent a joint letter to the FCC ahead of the event titled “Please Stop Providing Platform to Anti-Indians” and asking the club to cancel the discussion.

“Such people are completely biased and motivated”, it read, referring to the speakers.

Both Dutt and Ayyub, who have faced online violence including death and rape threats because of their coverage, said they were not surprised by the letter.

“What’s important to stress is that this is organized. Don’t think that this petition is a spontaneous reaction”, Dutt said. “There is now a clear attempt to  deflect the scale and the enormity of what’s happening and create irrelevant side issues.”

“This takes us in a direction where we don’t have to talk about the fact that we are looking at a million more deaths by June, where you don’t have to talk about the fact that bodies are floating down the rivers of rural India”.

“We continue to be targeted for telling our stories, for doing our journalism, for going to cremation and burial grounds and showing you the pictures that have shaken the world”, Dutt said. 

“We are being told we are vultures for feasting off the dead. Because we write for global media, we are being called anti-national. Whereas the true anti-nationalism we are seeing unfold is public relations between privileged over the lives of ordinary Indians”.

Ayyub, who spoke at the FCC’s 2019 journalism conference about the horrendous online violence she has faced, added: “This is how they shut independent voices, especially women journalists. You slut shame us all the time, you call us names, but you cannot silence us like that. So what better way to try to silence us than by calling us anti-Indian?”

Was there anything positive to take from the disaster?

“For the first time I see Indians united and not polarized by this Hindu-Muslim narrative” said Ayyub, who has set up a crowdfunding site to raise money for food and medical aid for the needy. 

“They are united in helping each other out and amplifying each other’s voices, and I think Indians have now realized that this humanity will be the only savior at the end of the day”.

The full discussion can be watched below.

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