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Me and the Media: Writer and editor Alex Frew McMillan

Journalist and editor Alex Frew McMillan. Photo CC Kei.

Journalist and editor Alex Frew McMillan. Photo CC Kei.

Alex Frew McMillan is a feature writer and editor, the last 13 years specialising in real-estate coverage and business reporting.

Previously: CNN, as a business reporter, and Reuters, as the Asia real-estate correspondent.

Now: Regular contributor to TheStreet.com, and is also the Asia editor of Modus, the magazine of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. As a free-lancer, he has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Forbes, the Economist Intelligence Unit and CNBC.

What made you want to work in the media?

I didn’t want to work in the media at all. I want(ed) to be a novelist! But I have one problem, in that I never write any fiction at all. I have finally accepted that I am a non-fiction writer.

I love the news. I have always had a great and broad general interest. I find many topics interesting and love exploring ideas. And I am not great with routine – I love that news is always different, always changing. Most of all, though, I love taking complex topics and breaking them down in ways that are (with any luck) interesting, understandable and entertaining.

Being a freelancer is hard, and unstable. But I hate working in someone else’s office. I feel I am wasting my life away that way.

What has been a career high point?

Alex Frew McMillan.

Alex Frew McMillan.

That is difficult to say. To be honest, the high points are whenever a reader approaches me and asks me a question about a story. I always say that a writer only needs one reader.

There is one strange thing about writing for me. Whenever I finish and file a story, I am sick of it and don’t think it’s any good. Then, later, when I come across an old piece, I realise it’s actually pretty well-written.

And a career low point?

There are so many! I would say that I did not make the most of my time at Reuters. I thought that the job was telling me what to do. I didn’t realise that I needed to tell the job what I wanted to do, and do it.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. In fact, seek them out. If there’s a question that you are afraid to ask, that is exactly the question you have to ask. And of course, spell everyone’s name right.


Human Rights Press Awards

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The Human Rights Press Awards are run by the FCC, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association. The ceremony took place in May 2017. Click here to see the winners.