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 formed an investigative team in 2011 when the newspaper was under financial pressure. “The reality is difficult, but we still have passion,” he said.
Forsythe also highlighted the importance of passion for investigative journalists. He said there are no real sick days or holidays.
“I love this job,” Thomas Fuller with the New York Times said. “You cannot go into this profession unless you want your job to be your life, and your life to be your job.”