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Monday, October 09, 2017, 18:28
20 years of growing with HK
By Chitralekha Basu
Monday, October 09, 2017, 18:28 By Chitralekha Basu

(PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)

Three years back when I came on board China Daily Hong Kong, securing an interview with someone wasn’t always a given. My colleagues and I would sometimes come up against a firewall of media liaison persons who regulated access to the people on our wish list. Convincing them of our intentions wasn’t always the easiest thing. So what’s the story, some of them would ask, even after receiving an exhaustive list of questions intended for the interviewee. 

This was particularly true of the stories intended for CDHK’s Hong Kong Focus section — the space for running incisive, analytical essays, based on in-depth research, reporting from the field and exhaustive interviews with key people. The brief was to ask critical, even discomfiting, questions, avoid plugs and most importantly look for a relevant and useful connection with the lives of the city’s general public. Promoting an event, individual achievements or an organization was ruled out unless there was a very strong case for it. To ensure neutrality, sometimes it helped to approach knowledgeable people who did not have a stake in the matter under review, or even those who took a contrarian position. 

It was a bit of a challenge to try and clarify one’s motive in such cases. Some of us had to reason with potential interviewees, and their representatives, that if our questions seemed a bit odd it was because we were trying to look beyond the material that was being offered to us. If we didn’t always keep to the questions submitted in advance during an interview, it was because we preferred to take cues from the answers, respond to them in real time and let the story emerge from the conversation. After all, if one knew what to expect at an interview there couldn’t be much point doing it. 

I am happy to report that the skepticism I would see in the eyes of media contacts a few years back has all but disappeared. The CDHK brand is now counted among the finest of Hong Kong’s English-language media, its journalistic standards on a par with that of the market leaders. Not too long ago readers would think of CDHK as a paper they read in hotel lobbies and on board airplanes. These days the edition is prominently visible in some of the city’s most-respectable bookstores. Evidently, Hong Kong’s confidence in the CDHK brand is growing.

(PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Young and forward-looking

As CDHK turns 20, it is probably befitting to do a recap of how it all began. A group of journalists arrived in Hong Kong from China Daily’s Beijing office in the summer of 1997 to set up the Hong Kong edition. The city was nearing the end of 150 years of colonial rule. There was the promise of a new beginning in the air. The young team of journalists who came to launch a new edition of China Daily in the newly created Hong Kong Special Administrative Region infused their handiwork with a youthful, forward-looking spirit.       

CDHK arrived on the scene in the immediate aftermath of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1. The first edition was launched on Oct 6, 1997. The paper was tasked to play the role of interpreting Hong Kong’s Basic Law for its readers and uphold the principle of “one country, two systems”. It’s a task the paper has been carrying on like a sentinel on round-the-clock duty. 

Twenty years ago CDHK had made a long-term investment in Hong Kong’s people. From the moment its first edition rolled out, CDHK has been conscientiously serving its readership in Hong Kong with news they could use and those they particularly cared for. The paper has moved in sync with the needs of the city’s people, every step of the way. When the SARS epidemic hit Hong Kong in 2003, CDHK brought the stories of real-life heroes who fought the battle against the deadly virus from the frontlines to its readers. The paper has rejoiced when Hong Kong’s own Lee Wai-sze brought home a medal from winning in the women’s Keirin racing event at the 2012 London Olympics and mourned the untimely demise of pop icon Leslie Cheung in 2003. It has held hands with its readers on the road to recovery from the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and kept them updated with daily bulletins on the avian flu scare in 2008. 

CDHK’s primary commitment is to its readers and always will be.

(PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Positive vibes

CDHK turns 20 at a time when the traditional models of news production and consumption seem to be going through a paradigm shift. Twenty is a good age to be in the time of big changes — making it that much easier to adapt, take risks and aim high. Although our newsroom doesn’t look dramatically different from what it did when I first saw it three years ago, the volume of content we produce and the platforms across which we put them out into the world seems to be growing on a hormone. Even as we try to make optimum use of these several new media channels — web portals, video podcasts, apps on electronic devices and social media — it seems to me one or two things about the CDHK brand might well remain a constant in the foreseeable future.   

Looking at old editions of the paper I find CDHK has a tradition of lighting up a flicker of hope even in the direst of situations. Although disaster supposedly makes great copy and guarantees a bigger draw of audiences, CDHK has almost always found positive stories to report and share from scenes of the most debilitating of catastrophes. When the SARS epidemic was at its peak, next to the news about deaths from the viral infection CDHK would, tirelessly, publish photo stories about tourists returning, schools reopening, young people returning to schools with their surgical masks still on. Likewise, when the paper reported the Signal 10 Typhoon Hato last August, alongside pictures of the havoc it had caused it also published those in which people came out on the streets as soon as the winds had weakened to clear dead branches from the roads and make these navigable again. 

It seems to me the paper’s greatest strength is its faith in the city’s people. And Hong Kong knows a friend when it sees one.

David Zou

David Zou, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, China Daily Hong Kong

I felt honored to be on the first team of China Daily staff to be posted in the “Pearl of the Orient”. We came here on the eve of China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, and I have stayed on ever since. The 20th anniversary of China Daily Hong Kong Edition (CDHK) also marks my 20th year with this local version of China’s national English-language newspaper.

Things have changed a lot in Hong Kong and around me in the past 20 years and I’ve borne witness to many of those changes. Indeed, there is nothing permanent except change, to quote the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Here are some of those changes I’d like to share with CDHK readers.

The greatest change of all, of course, had to be the “change of power” in Hong Kong. At the midnight ceremony on June 30, 1997, I watched the national flag of China hoisted and the Union Jack of the United Kingdom lowered. For the first time in half a century the people of Hong Kong did not have a governor descending upon them from London. The very existence of CDHK would not have been possible without this historical “change of power”.

The most challenging yet inevitable change had been the evolution of the newsroom. CDHK started out as a small operation with less than 30 people on staff, with manpower and resources mostly focusing on the print media, churning out local news stories to give a national newspaper a local touch. For the past 20 years, CDHK, like its peers around the world, has gone through an evolution of the newsroom – making the exciting and oftentimes painful transition from print to digital. Great progress has been made in the past five years or so in terms of CDHK going digital. We now have a full-fledged multimedia platform including print media, news websites, news videos and social media news reporting.

The most impressive and palpable change had been the maturing of a multinational corporate culture at CDHK. The first batch of CDHK staff members were mostly from the newspaper’s Beijing-based headquarters. CDHK has since grown into a sizable operation with close to 100 people from different cultures, including the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, France, India and Bangladesh. Now and then people here are heard mumbling into phones in their native languages or regional dialects. CDHK’s achievements over the last few years would not have been possible without this vibrant and multicultural workforce.

Things can change a lot in the course of 20 years. For Hong Kong and CDHK, things are surely changing for the better, except for my advancing years.

Xing Zhigang

Xing Zhigang, Director of Opinion Section, China Daily

I arrived in Hong Kong in June 1997, just ahead of the July 1 ceremony marking Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, as a member of the team sent to launch China Daily’s Hong Kong edition (CDHK). I worked in Hong Kong for three years and went back to the paper’s Beijing headquarters in 2000.

The outbreak of bird flu in Hong Kong in late 1997 and early 1998 is still very vivid on my mind. The spread of influenza A H5N1 virus, which claimed six lives out of the 18 confirmed cases, resulted in the slaughter of 1.5 million chickens in local farms. I remembered all the reporters would wear masks while doing interviews at chicken farms, wholesale markets and retail outlets. I was very impressed with the way the HKSAR government handled the crisis, in a highly efficient and transparent manner. The experience of covering avian flu in Hong Kong helped when the SARS epidemic hit Beijing in 2003.

Most of us who came here to launch CDHK from the mainland lived in the same building, with two people sharing an apartment. As none of us had family in Hong Kong, we hung out together after work. On weekends we would enjoy potluck dinner or go hiking together. We all knew about each other’s favorite food, just like family members.

I struggled a bit with learning Cantonese. Although we took some Cantonese classes before we left for Hong Kong, our language skill wasn’t good enough to interview local people. Back in 1997, Mandarin was not as popular as it is now in Hong Kong. To familiarize myself with the language, I started watching TVB shows whenever I had time after work. In the bargain I came to know many Cantonese popular songs. Every time I hear a familiar Cantonese song today, it immediately brings to mind my days spent in Hong Kong.

My three years spent at CDHK taught me how to be a professional and yet passionate about my work. I got to know many hardworking, intelligent and experienced journalists from the local media organizations. It’s they who taught me that being a good journalist requires commitment and devotion.

Xu Jingxing

Xu Jingxing, Director of Photography Department, China Daily

I came to Hong Kong on June 20, 1997, with more than 10 colleagues from the head office in Beijing to launch the China Daily Hong Kong edition (CDHK). I worked here for two and a half years.

I remember recording on my camera the moment of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on the midnight of July 1, 1997. Through my camera lens I also witnessed the election of the first Legislative Council of the Hong Kong SAR and the impacts of the Asian financial crisis on Hong Kong. In those days I often felt like a stranger in a strange place. I was both photojournalist and photo editor. Each day was hectic. I worked long hours, through day and night.

We considered ourselves the first batch of trainees, comparable to the first group of students admitted to the prestigious Whampoa (Huangpu) Military Academy, China’s first modern military academy founded in 1924. There was novelty and excitement about working for a newly-launched edition. Then, after two to three months, some young co-workers started to miss home.

Twenty years back the media in Hong Kong was highly developed and competitive, especially compared to its state in the mainland. Once I had reached home at 2 am after work. Just as I was about to turn in I heard a loud bang on the street. Looking down from my flat on the 27th floor I saw a major car accident had just taken place. I grabbed my camera and ran down the stairs as fast as I could. By the time I reached the spot police cars, ambulances and a few reporters’ vehicles had already arrived on the scene, and everyone was busy doing his job.

The local media people were such thoroughbred professionals that they would never judge a fellow journalist on the basis of their company size. Each time there was big news, the front-page stories carried by the papers would often be presented with a unique perspective and very impressive images from the spot.

As a photojournalist in such a highly developed information industry, I realized there couldn’t be a best picture of a particular news; only more accurate, profound and special versions of it. That was my biggest takeaway from working at China Daily Hong Kong.

KS Chan

KS Chan, Chief Editor, Asia Weekly

I was hired in August 2010 to plan and launch a new weekly Asia edition of China Daily. The opportunity to tell the China story to readers around the region and examine the interactions between China and Asian countries sounded like an interesting challenge that I could not turn down. Since then we have grown from 24 pages to 32 pages and also launched a separate Southeast Asia edition in 2013 to cater to the reading needs of the people in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and focus on the bloc’s growing ties with China.

I would say the most significant event in Hong Kong since I came to work here is the celebration of 20 years of Hong Kong’s return to China – showcasing the success of “one country, two systems” – and the landmark visit of President Xi Jinping in July 2017.

I have in fact enjoyed reporting to work in times of inclement weather. It does not get more exciting than coming to work when the typhoon signal T8 is hoisted. While it’s never very pleasant to come to work braving the winds and the rain it’s not exactly a crisis either.

I have worked in other media (and non-media organizations) in Singapore and Hong Kong and the work atmosphere here compares as well, if not better, than elsewhere. It’s unusual in a fairly large organization like this to find an absence of “office politics” but I can honestly say this is the case here. People are just committed to what they do and in the case of the journalists that’s of course to put out a better paper.

China is undoubtedly the most impactful and exciting story of the 21st century. This job allows me to spend each working day analyzing and staying up to date with the dynamic developments taking place in the country, and of course to help make the editorial decisions on interpreting and sharing these events with our readers across the region.

Ning Yanming

Ning Yanming, Senior Writer, China Daily Hong Kong

I joined China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) in March 2005, more than five years after it began operation here and almost 10 years after I came to Hong Kong on a work permit. That work permit was for a job at a garment manufacturing company, but the job itself was similar to what I had done for years — writing, editing and publishing.

I had hoped to start a new career when I decided to quit my job as a copy editor with China Daily in Beijing nearly a decade back in 1994. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what I was looking for in Hong Kong when I signed up for a training program designed for future sales managers of cotton shirts and pants. I was still unsure career-wise when the training program ended, until I joined a group of much younger mainland trainees and came to report for work in Hong Kong in July 1995.

Although I did not have an alternative plan, I wasn’t too keen to continue working on an in-house magazine in a garments manufacturing company. I was left with two choices: staying with the garment maker and ultimately going back to the mainland or finding another job before my work permit expired. Not one to give up so easily I chose to take the pink slip and stay in Hong Kong for as long as possible. Before long I was reunited with a few former colleagues from my China Daily days in Beijing who now worked on the paper’s newly-launched Hong Kong edition.

I had done three other jobs of more or less the same nature — as copy editor and translator at two local newspapers and a web-based news channel — for about eight years before joining CDHK.

When China Daily sent a small team here to find a permanent address for Hong Kong edition in 1997, I was between jobs. I worked as a temp with CDHK, helping out with some odd errands for a couple months, but could not join my former employer as I was in Hong Kong on a special work permit. Besides I still had a residence in Beijing that I was not ready to give up. As soon as I got my permanent Hong Kong ID card I contacted David Zou and told him I was ready to work for China Daily again.

Now I can say CDHK is the closest thing to a home away from home for me. I didn’t plan to rejoin China Daily when I came to Hong Kong but am glad I did.

DJ Clark

DJ Clark, Director, Multimedia, China Daily Hong Kong

I came to Hong Kong in 2015 from Beijing. The decision to move was mainly motivated by two points. Firstly I had young children and we felt Hong Kong would be a better environment to bring them up. Secondly I ran several workshops at the China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) bureau before I joined here. I was impressed by how forward-looking the bureau was and felt it would make a good place to develop a multimedia team.

Having to come to work during typhoons always poses a challenge as I live on Lamma Island. The most memorable of these was in late 2016 when we asked everyone on our team to go out in the middle of the typhoon and make a video report and send it in, which we collated in a live feed from the office.

CDHK has a warm and friendly atmosphere. The people on the multimedia team have been particularly interesting to work with as they come from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
Over the past two and half years the multimedia team has grown from three and half people when I joined to 12 people and two regular freelancers. Our monthly view numbers have gone up from around tens to tens of millions as a result of a lot of hard work and positive energy. On the flip side, growing so fast has meant that there hasn’t been time to get enough people in place and learn the skills required. We are still learning and growing. 
Collecting a News Award in London for one of our projects was a highlight so far for me. To be able to work on projects at the very highest level in journalism with an incredibly talented team has been a great privilege. The challenge we now face is to keep moving forward.

Joseph Li

Joseph Li, Senior Reporter, China Daily Hong Kong

I joined China Daily in September 1998. I wanted to work as a journalist as I thought there was a lot of variety to it besides the opportunity to see things and meet people.

During the years I have spent here, I have covered news of all sorts — political, financial, social and others. I have interviewed many chief executives of Hong Kong SAR and covered several CE elections — be they newly elected CEs, just assuming office, or a new CE in the middle of a five-year term. I also covered numerous Legislative Council elections, and have seen political reforms that have worked well for the city and otherwise.

I have covered a lot of court cases involving the Basic Law of HKSAR and witnessed several instances of interpretation of Basic Law provisions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. I also witnessed the illegal Occupy Central movement and the Mong Kok riots.

Besides the political developments, the Asian financial crisis, global financial tsunami, bird flu epidemic, outbreak of SARs, all happened during my time here.

If I had to pick a particularly memorable assignment I did, it would have to be an exclusive interview I did with former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang in November 2011. During the hour-long interview, I managed to ask all the questions I wanted to without even once having to look at my notes. I also controlled the time very well and found some extra time to raise a few surprise questions that were not submitted to him in advance.

No, I was never caught in the middle of a crisis. I covered disturbances, protests, marches, disasters and rescue of victims in hospitals but I knew how to keep a distance and protect myself.

When I started work here there were very few of us and we worked six days a week, including Sundays and public holidays. There was no Internet in the early years but we were quite productive.

I would say I have established myself as a knowledgeable, professional journalist with integrity — someone who has earned the respect of people from across the board, including government officials, lawmakers and fellow reporters, and have also built a good interpersonal network.

Karl Wilson

Karl Wilson, Chief Correspondent, Australia and South-East Asia, Asia Weekly

I joined China Daily Asia Weekly not long after it started publication. I had finished as Manila bureau chief for Agence France-Presse and decided to return to Sydney, having lived overseas for the best part of 40 years. I started writing some freelance pieces and was offered a full-time job with the group. I enjoy writing for Asia Weekly. It allows one to reflect on the significant achievements China has made over the last three decades. To me China is the story of the 21st century. Its impact, politically and economically, on the global stage will shape this century.

As I am based outside of Hong Kong, my stories tend to reflect what China is doing regionally. The most significant story I covered for China Daily’s flagship and Hong Kong editions was the disappearance of the Malaysian Airways flight MH370 on March 8, 2014. The aircraft, carrying mainly Chinese passengers, was on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared. It was thought the aircraft went down off the West Australian coast and I was assigned to go to Perth and write a daily sketch. I spent a month in Perth writing a column each day. For a short time Perth was home to hundreds of reporters from China.

I usually visit the Hong Kong office twice a year. I find the working environment to be quite pleasant, unlike other places I have worked at. You get a sense that most people at China Daily Hong Kong enjoy their work and as journalists take pride in the work they do.

I can still remember when the China Daily was first launched in Beijing and the Hong Kong edition 20 years ago. The papers you see today not only reflect the political and economic changes that have taken place but the incredible changes within China's media. For me China Daily not only covers the news it is also a showcase for China to the rest of the world.

Helen Sloan

Helen Sloan, Chief Copy Editor, Asia Weekly

Since I joined China Daily Asia Weekly in 2013, we have expanded to more countries across the region and we also produce an edition covering the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN).

As we are a weekly publication, we don’t have the same deadline pressure as our colleagues on the daily paper, but when a typhoon hits, we usually still have to work – at home if we can’t get in to the office.

I spend my time at work reading and editing stories from across China and the rest of Asia, covering a fascinating range of topics from the latest high-tech advances to archaeological discoveries. I have learned a tremendous amount since I came here, and it is a privilege to be a part of a product that provides a unique insight into China and Asia.

The atmosphere in Asia Weekly is friendly, conscientious and creative, and I’m delighted to work with such a great team.

Jia Yifan

Jia Yifan, Director of Information Technology, China Daily Hong Kong

I returned to work with China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) in 2014 and this is my third time working here. Taken together, I have spent nearly nine years working for CDHK. My co-workers in Hong Kong are young at heart, idealistic and highly energetic. We face a lot of challenges working here but people are passionate about their work. This is why I came back to work here.

I am often given special tasks related to breaking news and major stories. For example, when we were covering the 20th anniversary of the HKSAR last July, we had to set up a contingency arrangement, following instructions of the management. Our IT team was responsible for technical operation and maintenance while our developers provided all-weather support especially to the coverage done by the multimedia team coverage. We also addressed ad-hoc needs of reporters. We had to set up a task force in order to ensure coverage across all platforms went off smoothly.

I love and hate typhoons. They bring a lot of trouble to the company. Everyone’s daily routine, the internet and local computers are affected. There were times where co-workers and I took special safety precautions when we reported to work even as the severe storm warning signal No 8 was hoisted. Although these difficult occasions cause us discomfort, I feel situations such as these help bring us — the management and co-workers — even closer. We work as a team to complete all the tasks, come rain or shine. 

We are a team passionate about our work, forever looking forward to introducing new ideas and strategies. At CDHK we keep a close watch on the rapid advancement of technology and latest innovations so as to be able to retain our competitive edge in times of fast-changing reader preferences. Our online media outlets have seen great transformations recently. And so have our mobile online services. I believe CDHK will continue to grow and retain its position as the market leader in the coming days.

Some of my co-workers in CDHK are extremely hard-working but prefer keeping a low profile. I highly admire their attitude, professionalism and their quiet enthusiasm for the media.

Amy Tan

Amy Tan, Deputy General Manager, China Daily Hong Kong

I joined China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) in February 2011. That was not long after China Daily launched the Asia office at the end of 2010. Everything seemed to be surrounded by novelty and challenges. I was working at the executive office, the operational hub of the company, where I worked closely with all the departments. In recent years I feel the company has advanced by leaps and bounds.

I have witnessed CDHK grow from its traditional paper form, eventually morphing into a multidimensional media company. Today the CDHK brand offers myriads of innovative features. These include thematic video coverage, a video website produced in collaboration with China Daily’s media partners in Asia Pacific, hosting the Asia Leadership Roundtable, organizing the annual Campus Newspaper Awards and launching a mobile application specialized in English language education. It is rare for a newspaper to undergo such dramatic transformation in just a few years.

Our reporters also have become multimedia journalists. Now not only are they able to write and edit, they can also report news on-camera and produce video stories. This rapid transformation enables CDHK to keep up with the trends in our industry.

CDHK gives me abundant room to make innovative ideas happen, helping me to realize my potential. In 2015 together with a couple of co-workers I set up VDO English. Through integrating and tapping the resources we had, and then producing youth-oriented products to promote English education, we managed to fully establish a new education brand. Today VDO English is a brand with a wide range of English language education tools. The content is disseminated across an array of platforms, namely VDO English’s official website, app, facebook and Instagram accounts, YouTube channel. Our patented icon, “Panda Chan”, is loved by Hong Kong students. I think I have grown as a professional too through my association with these projects. I would like to thank CDHK for its trust and support towards me.

October 6 this year marks CDHK’s 20th anniversary. I will continue to strive and grow together with the company. I wish CDHK an even better future.

Natacha Riva

Natacha Riva, Managing Editor, Lifestyle Premium

I enjoy working for China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) because I believe that the future belongs with Chinese media in the global ecosystem. As a French journalist, it’s interesting to not only watch but also take part in.

When we launched Lifestyle Premium, China Daily’s first lifestyle publication in Hong Kong, the challenge was to get our local readers to see the China Daily brand as more than just a news media. We have many more facets which people are now beginning to discover. The new Chinese generation have changed. We wanted to deliver the message that in matters of lifestyle and leisure activities, China’s taste could be refined, singular and accessible. 

What I particularly like about CDHK is that everyone functions as constituent parts in a team. We work hard to build strong branding for CDHK. 

Every place has its own specificity. However, at CDHK the staff is incredibly hardworking and versatile. We have a young generation of journalists, fresh talent from the mainland as well as Hong Kong. Together we are nurturing the Gen-Z dream. There is unity, a sense of collective spirit and camaraderie. The outlook is also surprisingly international and worldly. We are an international newspaper after all.

Qiu Peng

Qiu Peng, Deputy Director of Information Technology Department, China Daily

I came to work at China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) early in 2001. I remember it was a summer day. My boss in Beijing informed me I was to be posted at Hong Kong, to help with technical work. I worked in Hong Kong for almost 14 months.

The day that stands out in my memory is the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. We stayed up all night, listening to the live telecast from CNN as we worked to put together the next day’s newspaper.

I enjoyed the time I spent working in Hong Kong. My colleagues, especially Estella (accounts manager Estella Chan), looked after me like an older sister. Please tell her I miss her very much.

There are many other people I remember from that time — Albert Au Yeung, Joy Lu, David Zou, Joseph Li. I particularly enjoyed hanging out with the colleagues who, like me, were originally from the mainland. I was the youngest among all the recruits from the mainland. It was my colleagues who taught me how to apply for an ID card. We would hang out in a group on weekends, go on hiking trails, or go swimming or play tennis. My colleagues organized a party for my first birthday in Hong Kong.

A number of firsts happened for me in Hong Kong — such as the first time I negotiated a business deal with another company all on my own. The first time I drew up the technical budget for China Daily, it was for the Hong Kong edition. This was a huge responsibility to take. I am so glad and thank my good fortune that I had met such wonderful people in Hong Kong.

Lin Jinghua

Lin Jinghua, Chief Editor, Copy Desk, China Daily

I was among the first group of China Daily staff from Beijing who came here to set up the Hong Kong edition. I arrived in Hong Kong on June 20, 1997 and stayed there for four years.

I remember we carried a lot of stories on the 1997 financial crisis and the Hong Kong Legislative Council election. To be honest I can't remember the details. It was quite a challenge for me to copyedit the stories as I knew very little about Hong Kong at the time. Most of my knowledge about local politics and culture was acquired on the job.

China Daily Hong Kong was a happy place. It seemed we had gone back to university. We shared apartments, ate in a canteen, went out together and learnt new things. It felt nice to walk back home on an empty street at 3 in the morning after the day’s work was over. We laughed and talked loudly all the way as we went back home.

Hong Kong is an amazing place. I miss the intense greenery in its country parks and hiking trails, and of course the very modern city life. On weekends we would go looking for restaurants offering specialty cuisine. It was like a ritual. I didn't know many local people, except some colleagues, who were nice and very helpful.

My time spent in Hong Kong helped build confidence in me. Being a small team, two other editors and I copyedited political and business news — the kind of subjects I was neither interested in nor familiar with before coming to work in Hong Kong. This was my opportunity to learn a few things and try to do these well.

Li Yao

Li Yao, News Editor, China Daily Hong Kong 

I joined China Daily Hong Kong edition (CDHK) in April 2013, after having worked at the paper’s head office in Beijing for about three years. I started as a features reporter here, and later took on the role of an assignment editor, leading a newsroom towards keeping pace with the rapid and tremendous changes in producing and disseminating news the world over.

This year I found myself on repeated occasions telling reporters that the way we cover news now is very different from the way we would do it as recently as last year. Earlier when reporters were assigned a story, they approached it from the point of view of what the next day’s paper would need. Now the idea has been firmly established that we generate content to be published across all platforms — print, web, multimedia and social media. Practice helps the team build experience in generating content in keeping with the specific requirement of these platforms, in terms of urgency, depth and style of the writing, and target audiences.

I am proud that the whole newsroom made the transition from traditional news reporting to reporting across a whole host of new media platforms in a relatively short span of time. The process of change was not without its uncertainties and obstacles. At the end of the day the paper’s nimbleness in adapting to the rapid changes in the media industry was much in evidence. It also reinforced our commitment to be able to respect the requirements and sentiments of our readers, strengthened our determination to enhance core competitiveness by investing in the newsroom members, especially our young reporters, motivating them to acquire a full skill set of what is required to make a fine journalist today.

At the still tender age of 20, CDHK is well on course to keep re-inventing itself to adapt to the newer developments in the media industry and embrace the changes, while retaining its ever youthful spirit to inform and serve readers with insight.

Roy Liu

Roy Liu, Photographer, China Daily Hong Kong

Before joining China Daily Hong Kong (CDHK) in September 2014, I had worked for a number of newspapers and magazines as a photojournalist for 10 years. My specialization was in photographing people’s livelihoods, politics and breaking news. I had noticed that while CDHK published the regular daily news-oriented photos, it also ran photo essays on various themes. Here photojournalists are free to pitch ideas and execute them. I really value being allowed the freedom to choose my themes and this was the main reason why I joined CDHK.

About the same time as I joined, the 81-day illegal Occupy Central movement began. I was assigned to cover the day-to-day developments. An enormous number of images were taken. Some of these would be compiled to make photo essays. It was an unforgettable experience.

Last August I was assigned to shoot pictures of the effects of Signal 10 Typhoon Hato in Heng Fa Chuen. I took pictures of the sea waves, rising to the height of three to four stories and crashing down on the coast. Caught between strong winds, rain and massive waves, it was difficult to stand firmly on the ground, let alone take pictures. In such tricky situations one often ends up playing it by the ear. Then one also has to prepare well in advance to be able to make the most of shooting in times of a major disturbance — natural, or manmade. One of the must-dos is to make sure one’s equipment is adequately protected. By the time they finished shooting the typhoon, the camera lenses of many of my fellow photographers was permanently damaged.

What I remember the most from my brush with Typhoon Hato is neither the gale, winds and nor the massive waves. Instead what stands out in my memory is how people spontaneously started cleaning the roads and recycling the debris left by the storm as soon as the winds began to weaken. Many parents even encouraged their children to get involved in the process. We paid a tribute to these caring citizens and their community spirit in our Facebook page on art and culture, called Lenslight.

Compared to the other places I have worked at, CDHK allows me more room to grow and greater independence with planning my work. We seem to share a close, friendly relationship with colleagues and supervisors. This could be quite inspiring and makes sharing ideas and resources with each other that much easier.

With transitioning into new media — putting out content on social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram — a whole host of factors come into play. Nowadays it’s not just enough to be able to click a great picture. One also has to think of the ideal time to post the image on social media for it to reach the maximum number of audiences. The fonts used to headline or caption a photo counts, as does the lay-out. For instance, the same set of photos when presented in a cluster in print will have a different impact when seen on a mobile phone, one at a time, owing to the limitations of the size of the device. When people see images on the phone they tend to overlook the details. Since the way people consume news keeps changing, we have to keep changing and adjusting to the demands of the new media.

At the end of the day, however, there is nothing to beat solid stories, well-taken photos, unique angles and depths.

Whenever I come up against a stumbling block, I can discuss it freely and openly with my supervisor and colleagues and ask for suggestions. After these brainstorming sessions we are, invariably, left with a solution that we did not expect to find but one that works beautifully for us. I think this is my biggest takeaway from the three years I have spent at CDHK.

basu@chinadailyhk.com 

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