China’s unprocessed public documents disclose wealth of information

China’s unprocessed public documents disclose wealth of information

Michael Forsythe with Bloomberg News discusses China’s public documents at HKBU-SOPA Award Winners Forum yesterday. Photo: Bruce Yan cc Nov. 6, 2013 By Amanda Hua China’s enormous wealth of public documents makes it a journalist’s paradise, Michael Forsythe, a Hong Kong-based correspondent for Bloomberg News, said at a forum on investigative journalism in Asia yesterday.  “I love going through documents in China. There is so much information that has not been processed. Journalists could have so many stories,” he said. Forsythe’s award-winning article on China President Xi Jinping and his family wealth was based on public documents, he said. In China, bond prospectuses and company filings disclose massive amounts of information. “One day we found on the Internet his family name popping up in the financial documents,” he said. “One thing led to another. We found more and more documents on the Internet. Then we had the story.” China blocked the Bloomberg News website after the publication of Forsythe’s article. But Forsythe encouraged journalists to continue investigative reporting. “Government is not going to do it. It is up to the journalists to do it to make China a better place,” he said. “Chinese journalists would have done this story long time ago if they didn’t have the pressure from the government.” The forum brought together five winning journalists of the SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence to discus investigative reporting in Asia. The forum was held at Hong Kong Baptist University...
Responsibility and pressure drive investigative journalism in Asia

Responsibility and pressure drive investigative journalism in Asia

Panel moderator Judith Clarke, speaker Jamil Anderlini with the Financial Times and speaker Ernest Chi with Ming Pao answered questions on many issues, including ethics and undercover journalism. Photo: Boshika Gupta Nov. 6, 2013 by Sara Xu Bingqing Foreign correspondents have both privilege and responsibility in covering sensitive topics in China, Michael Forsythe, a Hong Kong-based correspondent for Bloomberg News, said at a public forum on investigative journalism in Asia yesterday. “All the information and financial records of our stories can be checked, and it’s open to the public. It should be for some of the best Chinese journalists to cover such sensitive topics, if given the freedom,” Forsythe said. Organized by Hong Kong Baptist University and the Society of Publishers in Asia, the forum was part of the weeklong HKBU-SOPA Award Winners Forum and included five investigative journalists in Asia. Speakers Forsythe and Jamil Anderlini, the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, both received SOPA awards this year for their stories on Xi Jinping and Bo Xilai, top Chinese politicians. In mainland China, the government censors sensitive topics but in Hong Kong, advertisers exert pressure on media, Ernest Chi, the investigative team leader of the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, said. “We may lose huge profits from the advertisements for our stories. Still, our boss supports us,” he said. In Cambodia and Myanmar, social media ignites people while providing clues for investigative reporters, Titthara May, national news editor at the Phnom Penh Post, and Thomas Fuller, correspondent for The New York Times, both said. “There is no substitute for going to the scene and knocking on the doors,”...
SOPA Award winner says investigative journalists need sense of numeracy

SOPA Award winner says investigative journalists need sense of numeracy

Thomas Fuller, the Southeast Asian correspondent for the New York Times, says impunity is a disincentive to investigative journalism in Asia. Fuller and Bloomberg News reporter Michael Forsythe, right, speak at a public forum on investigative journalism in Asia at Hong Kong Baptist University yesterday. Photo: Song Cheng    Nov. 6, 2013 by Huang Lanlan, Eluna When a company says 51 percent of senior managers in China are women, it’s just false, a Bloomberg News reporter said at a forum on investigative journalism in Asia yesterday. “You should have a sense of numeracy and proportion,” Michael Forsythe, a Hong Kong-based correspondent, said.“ In government figures, you may never find what you are looking for.” Forsythe was one of five Society of Publishers in Asia Editorial Award winners who attended the public forum at Hong Kong Baptist University. Investigative journalists in Asia have problems, said Titthara May the national news editor of the Cambodia-based Phnom Penh Post. “I once got four warnings, of which two were from the prime minister.” He added that investigative journalism in Cambodia can be dangerous, because “there’s little protection for journalists.” “Though I don’t feel in danger quite often, I do have pressures from the government,” speaker Jamil Anderlini, the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, said. “Every year, foreign journalists in China have to renew their visas,” he said. “I am a little nervous at the end of year because I may be turned down by the government for writing something they’re angry about.” While the word “pressure” was frequently mentioned, so was the word “passion.” Ernest Chi from Hong Kong daily Ming Pao said he...