The Foreign Correspondents’ Club bids farewell to Sue Brattle, a longtime member and outgoing editor of The Correspondent, as she embarks on a new chapter. Before she leaves Hong Kong, we asked her to reflect on her time helming the magazine.
Q: What first drew you to the position of editor of The Correspondent?
A: I was a reader of the magazine and was ghost-writing a book when I saw the contract advertised. I had flexible working hours, so thought I’d apply for the job – and got it! My thanks to Kate Whitehead and Adam White who interviewed me, and for being so supportive in my first year. I’m sure the new editor, Kate Springer, who has my very best wishes, will equally get terrific support from the current Communications Committee.
Q: What are you proudest of during your time as editor?
A: Definitely the protest issue of October 2019. By then the protests had become part of our landscape in Hong Kong, and I wanted to emphasise the human interest stories behind the media coverage. I approached around 25 members of the media and was bowled over by the response. I asked for personal reflections, as apolitical as possible, and that’s what I got. Some of the 20 or so pieces genuinely moved me, and I think it made for a strong issue of the magazine.
Q: What were the key challenges you faced while in this role?
A: Making the magazine timely, while being quarterly. I always tried to commission early in the three-month cycle, but gave writers and photographers as much leeway with deadlines as possible. I did most of the magazine in the three weeks before going to press, and the cover story and president’s message in the last hour or so. Also, I’d love for the Comms Committee to meet in the evening rather than at lunchtime, so members had more time to chew over ideas instead of needing to rush back to work.
Q: What are some of the most memorable stories you commissioned and worked on with reporters?
I loved working with the students who wrote for the second protest issue, January 2020, and the coronavirus issue of April 2020. Their care and enthusiasm should be bottled! There are a few stars of the future among them. It was always a pleasure to work with journalists in the club who know Hong Kong inside out and can bring it alive. As every editor knows, there’s nothing like an idea landing in your inbox out of the blue from someone you can trust will deliver it on time. Oh, I also loved the club’s annual Journalism Conference and eventually had a team of reporters covering it.
It was always a pleasure to work with journalists in the club who know Hong Kong inside out and can bring it alive.
Q: What do you plan to do after leaving Hong Kong?
A: Well, I’m sure you can hear the gods laughing at our plans … what a time to be on the move. Plan A was to go home to the UK, slowly, as an extended holiday. You never know, we may still manage that. Then we’ll sort out our house, which has had tenants for 14 years while we’ve been working abroad, and organise our next adventure. My husband and I launched a travel blog, Afaranwide.com, 18 months ago, and we’ll work on that wherever we are.
Q: What will you miss about Hong Kong?
A: The list is endless, but I really don’t want to lose the view from our balcony in Discovery Bay. The steady comings and goings of the ferry make me feel all’s well, whatever the reality is! And looking out onto the hills opposite us is definitely good for the soul. I doubt I’ll ever have such a privileged view again.
Post Date: August 19, 2020