Glimpses into HKBU-SOPA 2013

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,” Fuller said.

Digital changes in news production have also changed the way journalists like Anderlini and Fuller write their stories, they said.

As the only New York Times correspondent in Southeast Asia, Fuller is pushed continuously by editors. “To become a good journalist, you should have your job to be your life, and your life to be your job. Be on call all the time,” Fuller said.