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Number 1 Shimbun


NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (121)

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Hacks & Flacks

Journalists, PR executives and others mingled at the FCCJ’s yearly bash on Jan. 25.

12 Hacks 1


Club President Peter Langan, Club GM Marcus Fishenden, House of Councillors member Mitsuko Ishii, journalist Bobbie van der List and Director-at-Large Dan Sloan smash the saké barrel provided by Born saké, whose owner Atsuhide Kato gave a speech (below).

12 Hacks 2

The event was well attended – as it always is.

12 Hacks 3

ALSOK Lion Dance Team gave a performance.

12 Hacks 4

Sterling Content’s Kathryn Wortley, Telegraph correspondent Julian Ryall and Hiroshi Iki, senior marketing manager, KEF Japan Inc.

12 Hacks 5

The Club’s Special Projects Committee chair Haruko Watanabe, soprano Mayumi Torikoshi and Meiko Ninomiya.

12 Hacks 6

ARD German Radio’s Kathrin Erdmann, freelance journalist Jake Adelstein, 
and the Washington Post’s Simon Denyer.

12 Hacks 7

ORIX Corp’s communications assistant manager Yuka Kanaoka and freelance writer William Sposato.

12 Hacks 8

The Times correspondent Richard Lloyd Parry, Prothom Alo’s Monzurul Huq and freelancer Asger Røjle Christensen.

12 Hacks 9


Join the film committee. . .



10 Film 1


. . . on Wed., Feb. 6 at 6:45 pm for the omnibus feature 21st Century Girl, created by 15 of Japan’s emerging female directors. These self-described “defiant films dedicated to girls in the 21st century” approach the subject of sexuality and gender through a dizzying range of styles, visions, themes and genres. The eight-minute shorts are beautifully shot, with top-notch production and costume design, and star some of Japan’s most popular actresses, including Kaho Minami, Ai Hashimoto, Shizuka Ishibashi, Kiki Sugino, Sairi Itoh and Serena Motola. Five of the directors, Aya Igashi, Ayaka Kato, Risa Takeuchi, Yuka Yasukawa and the producer-director behind the project, U-ki Yamato, will join us for the Q&A session after the screening. (Japan, 2018; 117 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles.)
Karen Severns



Standing Rock

Photography by Nob Toshi Mizushima


THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE is a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline project in the U.S. that crosses the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. A protest movement began in early 2016 by Standing Rock Sioux elders with concerns about the environmental impact to land sacred to Native Americans and the polluting of the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, which is a reservoir for the Standing Rock Reservation.
They started a camp as a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the pipeline. After some protesters were arrested, a huge number of protesters – veterans, hippies, environmental groups and other volunteers – joined the camp. The next year, under the Trump administration, law enforcement officials chased off the protesters and destroyed the camps. The pipeline was completed soon after and began transporting oil in April 2017. ❶

Nob Toshi Mizushima 
was born in Tokyo but moved to New York in the early 1990s. After dropping out of the International Center of Photography’s school in 2007, he began work as a freelance journalist. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his interests are ethnic, environmental, energy and economic issues.

09 Exhibition 1

09 Exhibition 2

09 Exhibition 3

09 Exhibition 4

09 Exhibition 5

Last month in photos


08 Last Month 1

High skill
Members of the Edo Firemanship Preservation Associa tion perform ladder stunt as part of Tokyo’s Fire department’s New Year review
by Yoshikazu Tsuno


08 Last Month 2

A throwaway idea
Watching a trash crane from the window of the Gomi-Pit Bar in Tokyo. The temporary bar is inside the facilities of Musashino Clean Center and aims to raise awareness of environmental and waste disposal issues
by Rodrigo Reyes Marin


08 Last Month 3

A barrier too far
Landfill work off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa, for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma station. The relocation is the subject of a referendum this month.
by Richard Atrero de Guzman/Nur Photo


Want people to read your investigation? Tell a good story.

An experienced journalist/editor shares tips on writing an investigative report that will have an impact on readers


By Olga Simanovych


GREAT INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING OFTEN turns into difficult, hard-to-read articles. At best, these stories are boring; at worst, they are impossible to understand. Sadly, they end up having little or no impact, meaning months of difficult investigative work has been largely wasted.

It’s not difficult to work out whether your story is understandable or not: if your grandmother can’t grasp it, you have failed. And complex subject matter is no excuse. While writers like to blame readers for not understanding or caring about their work, lack of clarity is always the writer’s (and their editor’s) fault. One of the keys to good journalism is to make the important interesting, and the solution is better storytelling. You must tell stories in a way that helps impose order on messy realities and inspires empathy in your readers.

At this summer’s annual investigative journalism festival in Kiev, Ilya Lozovsky, managing editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, shared some tips to help investigative journalists do just that. Here are his top 12 tips on how to craft a compelling story:

1. Explain your story in one sentence.
You have to figure out what your story is before you start writing. Can you convey its essence in a tweet? If not, you probably aren’t ready to write. You might need additional reporting. Work backward in time. Ask yourself: What caused the event you are reporting on to happen? What were the factors in the environment – legislative, social, political – that made the event possible? Who – and how – were the key people involved?

2. Select facts that matter.
You have probably uncovered thousands of facts in your research. But you can’t throw them all at the reader, and expect them to absorb them all. When we tell our friends something that happened to us, we don’t just recite every single fact. We pick the most relevant ones, tell them in order and explain what they mean. One of the most important parts of storytelling is being selective – each fact needs to be there for a reason, and you have to explain that reason to your audience. It’s not a failure to use only 5 percent of what you found. 

Remember to always think from the perspective of the reader: Is this sentence helping them better understand the story? Does it advance the story? Also, try limiting names and numbers to no more than two per paragraph so you don’t bog down or confuse your reader.

3. Choose the sequence of your reporting.
A story is a highly selective sequence of relevant events that have significance for your reader; all stories should have a clear beginning, middle and an end. 

If you’re lucky, your story will be obvious. It will feel like it is writing itself. But most of the time, it’s not that simple. You have a whole lot of facts, but facts themselves do not make a story – and if you write that way, you’ll just end up with a list of facts that most people will never read.

Chronological order is almost always the best way to tell a complex investigative story. Some stories may be told in other ways, but only in special circumstances.

4. Give readers a reason to empathize.
Readers need to understand why they should care. Sometimes your story will have obvious victims, but many times it won’t. You need to explain who has been hurt and how. 

In investigative reporting, it’s often the citizens or the country’s budget which are the victims. But it can be more nebulous. Is it your country’s reputation? Democratic norms and institutions? Societal trust? 

When it is money that is lost or stolen, you’ll need to explain what that amount means. Your grandmother doesn’t know how much a billion is, because she has never seen that much money. You need to explain it in a way she’ll understand. How many hospitals can be built with that amount of money? Can you compare the amount to the average annual salary of a teacher?

5. Highlight and introduce characters.
Characters don’t have to be people – places or things can be characters, too! – but they usually are people in investigative reporting. Remember, every character mentioned must be introduced, and their motivations and involvement in the story has to be explained. 

Who are they? And why are they in the story?

Be sure to write “there he met James Smith, a banker from New York,” and not just, “there he met James Smith.”

07 Investigation Guide

6. Show us the map first, then take us on the journey.
Signposts signal where the story will go. Here’s how a typical story can be set up:

• The “lede” is what sets up the story and takes the reader in.
• The “nut graf” shows the reader where you’re going. This is where you tell the reader what you’re going to tell them; your single sentence that explains your story comes in handy here. The lede and the nut graph make up the beginning of your story.
• The body of the piece – the middle 
– is where you explain your story. This 
is usually broken up into several sections where you make your key points and outline the facts that back-up your 
nut graph.
• In your ending, you tell them what you just told them, summing it all up.

7. No surprises!
Some journalists like to “reveal” surprises in the second half of the story. This violates the rule of “guiding the reader.” Assume most readers won’t get there!

When new elements are introduced, their connection to previous elements should be clear. Is it the same criminal case or a different one? If you have written “charged three times with bribery” at the beginning of the story and you mention “arrested for bribery” again later, make it clear whether it’s one of the three.

8. Color your story.
Show how something looked. Show how someone acted. Write about smells, colors and sounds. Make people and places come alive. While this may appear to violate the rule about “no extra details,” these are, in fact, serving a purpose. Storytelling is nothing without story.

9. Involve an expert.
Get independent specialists to offer comments on the subject of your story. It can assist with explaining the complex; oftentimes experts can say things you can’t. For example, after describing a complex set of transactions, it’s great to have a specialist say: “This is obviously a bribe,” especially if they can explain why.

10. Use simple language.

• Go for concrete language over abstract.
• Avoid jargon.
• Active voice is better than passive voice.
• Use lots of verbs and nouns, and less adjectives. Avoid adverbs!
• Variation: Mix long sentences with short ones.

11. Be creative with supplementing the text in order to avoid interrupting the narrative.

• Charts and graphs
• Infographics
• Boxes
• Sidebars

12. Don’t pay too much attention to the end of your story.
How do you end a story? The truth is, it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. On longer reads, most people won’t read to the end; 80 percent of your writing effort should go towards the top 20 percent of the story. Really. As an editor, if I had a bad draft and only an hour before publication, I would just focus on the lede and nut graf.

And here’s some bonus tips from an editor’s perspective:
• Take a break before sitting down to write. Always write with fresh eyes.
• “Write drunk. Edit sober.”
• Read out loud – do you stumble over anything? Fix those awkward places.
• Editors are your friends. They will see things you won’t. ❶

Olga Simanovych is the Russian-language editor of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. She has worked as a screenwriter, media trainer, managing editor, TV news reporter for Vikna-Novyny and has participated in international investigations. This article originally appeared on the GIJN website and is used with permission.

Michael Stott

06 Profile 2


By Ilgin Yorulmaz


As a rookie correspondent on his first foreign posting to Reuters’ Bonn bureau, one of Michael Stott’s early assignments was to cover the Cold War.

One summer evening in 1987, he and some veteran journalists from various news outlets had crowded into a bar in what was then West Berlin. Earlier in the day, they had watched U.S. president Ronald Reagan stand in front of the Berlin Wall and call for Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union leader, to “Tear down this wall!”

“Almost everybody there said ‘What a fool this guy Reagan 
is,’” remembers Stott. “They said, ‘There is no prospect of this 
ever happening . . . it’s totally unrealistic.’”

Late the following year, the wall began to fall.

“That was a great experience for a young correspondent to have, because it taught me that conventional wisdom can be enormously wrong,” says Stott. The same principle has guided the 55-year-old British journalist and current managing editor of the Nikkei Asian Review throughout his life-long career spanning three continents and three decades.
After West Germany, Stott returned to London as an energy reporter, followed by a posting to Brazil during the Collor government. He then became the Reuters bureau chief in Bogota, Colombia at the end of the heyday of drug lord Pablo Escobar. From Mexico, he also reported on the birth of NAFTA and the peso crash, and later – as regional editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa – helped cover Yasser Arafat and the Intifada.

A BRIEF TIME WITH Reuters’ global news marketing convinced Stott that he loved journalism more than business. So he went to Moscow as bureau chief in 2006 for a stint that included reporting on Vladimir Putin’s declaration of war on Georgia in 2008. 

A decade after his Moscow assignment, Stott had left Reuters, and was working as the UK editor for the Financial Times in London. Stott had learned to speak fluent Russian during his time there. (He also speaks French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese). He decided to use his linguistic skills to investigate a U.S. presidential candidate – a real estate developer named Donald J. Trump. It was the early days of the highly charged 2016 election campaign.

Right before the election, he and a couple of colleagues put together a big feature on Trump’s Russian connections that extended over 30 years – from Gorbachev to Putin. Stott remembers people telling him, “This is so far-fetched; it’s the stuff of a film plot.” Yet recent leaks from the ongoing Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election seem to say otherwise. 

“The world is changing very quickly and very radically,” Stott notes. “Phenomena like Trump and Brexit have seriously challenged conventional wisdom.” For this reason – and despite the fact that foreign bureaus are the first to be slashed in budget cuts – he is adamant that the need for foreign correspondents remains as great as ever. 

“We understand each other less well around the world than we did 20 years ago, partly due to the rise in fake news and misinformation, but also because there’s been a decline in the number of foreign correspondents,” he says. “Our duty is to question conventional wisdom, to spot potentially interesting people, new trends and sentiments, even pursue stories that seem ridiculous or far-fetched.”

STOTT HAS BEEN LIVING in Japan for the past two years, following the Financial Times’ purchase by the Nikkei Group. He regrets not having mastered the Japanese language, but it’s clear he’s been instrumental in the international expansion and digital transformation of the Nikkei brand and the Nikkei Asian Review. 

The flagship English language publication focuses on the vibrant Asian business scene – especially the entrepreneurial vigor in the fast-growing Southeast Asian economies as China slows down – and highlights the region’s dynamism. 

In Europe and America, people have no idea of “how cutting-edge some of the [Asian] startups are, and how much money they’re making,” Stott says. “China has dozens of electric vehicle startups, and there’s a startup in Indonesia that’s trying to create the technology to enable the world’s first crypto currency in retail transactions.” 

He also has an interesting observation on young Asian consumers: “They want to buy Asian brands, fashion, products, even food.” On a visit to Ho Chi Minh City last year, he was walking late one night and noticed that nearly all the casual dining places were Asian food concepts. “Taiwanese bubble tea, Korean BBQ, Japanese sushi, Chinese Szechuan. It shows the maturing of Asian economies, and that people no longer necessarily aspire to the same Western luxury brands as their parents,” he says. 

And in the news realm, Stott reckons, they want Asian media to tell the story for them. 

Stott travels in Southeast Asia a few times a month. He has been hiring writers and editors who know the Asian perspective, and are equally ready to challenge the conventional wisdom. “Working in a media that’s got politics and business in its focus, our reporters tell us that they feel appreciated and valued,” he says. ❶

Ilgin Yorulmaz
is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to BBC World Turkish-language service.

Meet our new culinary team

05 New Chef 1
The dream team: 
(right to left) 
Silvano Borroni, executive chef Noe Bianconi,
sous-chef Simone Giannini and the rest of the kitchen staff.

A host of talented experts comes to the Club to invigorate the dining experience.


By Mary Corbett


The long wait is over.
Silvano Borroni has arrived at our new Marunouchi location with executive chef Noe Bianconi and sous-chef Simone Giannini to start an exciting new chapter in the FCCJ’s culinary evolution. Those who know of their legendary collaboration at Ristorante Il Buttero in Hiroo know we are in for a very special treat, as they take over the task of being the Club’s new food-service provider.

Founder and president of B Plan International, Borroni is passionate about food. But his interests are as broad as his taste in culinary creations. As a teenager in Tuscany, he was smitten with Japanese culture and language, in particular, and the earliest goal he can remember was to travel to Japan.

He arrived in Tokyo in the mid-80s, intent on studying Japanese in earnest, and he took on jobs teaching and waiting on tables while attending classes. Soon his Japanese was proficient to a level at which he was commanding rich fees as a trilingual interpreter, helping high-profile bubble billionaires set up businesses in Europe. Heady days indeed for a young man who had hardly set foot outside Italy, and found himself flying to exotic locales assisting an America’s Cup sponsor one day in Italy, Italian investors in Japan the next.

All the while, his base and future in Tokyo continued to gain traction. Unimpressed by the food offerings most Japanese believed was Italian cooking, Borroni made his first foray into the food service industry in 1989, creating what many fans still fondly remember as the first authentic trattoria in Tokyo.

OPENED IN 1989 ON a backstreet not far from Ebisu station, Il Boccalone was an instant sensation, redefining Japan’s understanding of Italian food, with pizzas coming straight out of a genuine Italian wood fired oven, lovingly built with his own hands. The success enabled him to explore opportunities in the United States, but he soon realized his heart remained in Tokyo. In 1983, his second restaurant, Trattoria La Baracca, opened in Toritsu Daigaku, followed quickly by Il Buttero in 1994. The latter, located just off Hiroo’s main shopping street, became a landmark destination for its worth-a-detour food. Its exquisite al fresco dining was a rarity in its day, a game changer that attracted the burgeoning wedding reception market, hitherto confined within the staid, cookie-cutter walls of the traditional wedding halls. Overnight, the restaurant became a celebrity hot spot in Tokyo, with long waits for reservations.

The Borroni brand continued to flourish, as bars and restaurants opened in Jiyugaoka and Akasaka: 180 employees were working for him, even as Japan’s economy struggled its way into the 21st century. His search for perfection never wavered. After numerous trips back to Italy in search of his dream chef, Borroni convinced Bianconi, at the time running a renowned boutique hotel in Tuscany with a Michelin caliber food reputation, to come to Japan as his executive chef at Il Buttero. It was the proverbial match made in heaven. Borroni then recruited Simone Giannini, who had been working in Akita, to join the team in Tokyo.

IN THE END, THE combination of attractive opportunities knocking relentlessly at his door and the restaurants, so closely associated with his personal style and meticulous management, became too much to run day-to-day on his own. As new businesses and property holdings expanded outside Japan, Borroni made the decision recently to divest, and sold all his directly controlled restaurants in Tokyo. Fortunately, he kept the crown jewels of his culinary team for the various projects he continued to oversee. That is when the fortuitous crossing of their path and FCCJ’s occurred. 

Borroni and Bianconi do not take the new challenges lightly. They are bringing the same passion they have always brought to their work to the creation of a food legacy the Club will soon be proud to call its own. One would be hard pressed to find the most humble of aubergine recipes, or risotto prepared to finer finish as in the assured hands of Noe. There will also be a selection of old Club favorites, not to mention delights awaiting the most demanding of curry purists, or the most discerning of cheese connoisseurs.

“I’m very lucky to have been given this opportunity,” Borroni says. “My role now is to earn the loyalty of its members, as I have always strived to do with my restaurant customers.”

74 YEARS AGO, THE founders of the FCCJ created a food destination and spectacularly popular watering hole which was for many years the most eclectic and sought after dining experience in Japan . . . some would have argued in all of Asia. While traditions must be respected and tended with loving care, ample innovation is necessary to entice and enhance. With no handover to speak of, the new team is having to adapt to the yet largely untested service logistics of a brand-new facility, while vagaries of the kitchen design still require considerable work. 

Borroni says that’s precisely the FCCJ legacy he wants to enshrine: the best of new and old, good value while remaining gloriously international in the scope of delicious food offerings. To this end, he has assembled what looks like a dream team of seasoned artisans who have travelled the seven seas to bring us the best of Indonesian, Moroccan, French, Indian, Peruvian . . . and did we already mention Italian? ❶

Mary Corbett is a writer and documentary producer based in Tokyo and is a member of the FCCJ’s Board of Directors.

The press freedom struggle in Hong Kong

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club in the former British colony has become a target, as Beijing cracks down on the local media and international correspondents.


By Stephen Vines


Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has grown increasingly intolerant of freedom of expression. Unsurprisingly, the cold winds from the north have gusted down to Hong Kong, as what has been a welcoming attitude by the local authorities toward the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club has turned distinctly chilly.

In rapid succession we witnessed the expulsion of Victor Mallet, the Financial Times Asia news editor, followed by a series of threats to evict the Club from its government-owned premises, a historic building that has been lovingly preserved. There was even a spell of what looked suspiciously like rent-a-crowd demonstrations outside the FCC premises denouncing the Club and its “foreign dog” members.

Maybe foreign correspondents in Hong Kong have become far too complacent. The former British colony has long been a hospitable international media center, the reason that many international media organizations based themselves here to facilitate wider Asian region coverage. Hong Kong has also provided excellent opportunities for covering the vast China story without the many hassles of being based in the Chinese mainland. Moreover, the Hong Kong government made it easy to get visas and did not impose restrictions on journalists doing their jobs.

The swirl of activity targeting the Club began with the hosting of an event featuring a speech by Andy Chan, the leader of the Hong Kong Independence Party (HKIP). Representations had been made to the FCC by China’s foreign ministry over what it described as separatist activity, and there was talk in the air of a ban on the party, including the imposition of penalties for reporting on its activities. (The ban went into effect after the event.)

The Club took the view that providing a platform for all shades of opinion could not be equated with support for any particular opinion and was part of its mission to facilitate freedom of expression. Inevitably this argument got somewhat lost after a vigorous and highly effective campaign was launched by Leung Chun-yin, Hong Kong’s previous Chief Executive, who now appears intent on proving that he is the foremost super patriot in Hong Kong.

Victor Mallet, the Club’s vice-president, got caught up in all this for no greater reason than that the FCC president happened to be away on holiday. As an articulate spokesman for the FCC, Mallet became the public face of this dispute and, for reasons yet to be officially explained, had the renewal of his work permit denied. The government then refused him readmission to Hong Kong following an overseas trip – the kind of treatment that has never before been used against a foreign correspondent.
So far most overseas media organizations are adopting a wait and see attitude over their response to this new hostile atmosphere. There is some hope that excessive zeal on behalf of officials keen to gain brownie points in Beijing might give way to a less aggressive approach.

While one major news organization with its regional headquarters in Hong Kong has already discussed relocation internally, it has yet to take any decision on the matter. It is hard to gauge how individual correspondents working here will respond. One European journalist, for example, has decided to steer clear of reporting on Hong Kong political matters, mirroring the approach toward local news taken by some foreign media reporters based in Singapore, which has a far longer history of intolerance towards criticism. However most people seem to have decided to carry on with business as usual until this becomes untenable.

The FCC itself has reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of freedom of expression and has not taken up the invitation to apologize as suggested by pro-government politicians. It is, nevertheless, taking a lower profile for the time being.

 04 Hong Kong

Club news 
The FCC building in Hong Kong

THESE NEW ATTACKS ON overseas media come at a time when many worrying developments are affecting the local media, as well. Around the same time that the FCC was getting into hot water, the owners and editors of Hong Kong’s major news media companies were summoned to Beijing (only one, the opposition-friendly Apple Daily newspaper, was excluded from this event). As ever when it comes to the way that the Chinese government handles these matters, much was unclear, including why this high level delegation was even in Beijing. Company executives claimed that far from being summoned, it was they who had, for some unspecified reason, asked for the meetings with state and Communist Party officials handling Hong Kong and media matters. After doing the rounds in Beijing, the delegation returned and there was much talk about how Hong Kong’s media freedom, which is enshrined in law, was to be maintained. No longer would it be unfettered, it was said: red lines – though not clearly spelled out – were being drawn, and should not be crossed.

This hardly came as a surprise. It has become increasingly evident that the local media are exercising a high degree of self-censorship and that sensitive topics such as coverage of Hong Kong’s independence movement (which, incidentally, is miniscule) are being handled with extra care. The same goes for Taiwan coverage and the disputes with other countries such as Japan and South Korea. Overshadowing this, and perhaps more significant, is the increasing mainstream media hostility shown towards Hong Kong’s democracy movement and political parties. 

On paper, and indeed in reality, the bulk of Hong Kong’s mass media is not under direct control of the Communist Party. But changes in ownership have ensured that these outlets have become a useful conduit for party propaganda, while carefully maintaining a distance from direct state control that gives them a dose of credibility.

Despite local broadcasting rules which specify that only local residents can control television stations, Hong Kong’s main commercial television station is now controlled by mainland businessmen. More recently, the main English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, has come under the control of Jack Ma, a Communist Party member who is also believed to be China’s richest individual (a juxtaposition that is hardly unknown in the new China). Most other local newspapers are run by individuals and companies that have worked hard to get on the right side of Beijing and proudly display their loyalty credentials.

THIS STILL LEAVES THE Communist Party’s propaganda machine with a problem: although it is easy to seize control of the media, it is far harder to furnish state-controlled outlets with the kind of credibility that is required to get people to pay attention to their turgid contents.

The drift towards pro-government conformity in the mainstream media has been matched by a strong upsurge of online media, where relatively small organizations are attracting very large audiences and beating the long-established media outlets when it comes to breaking news stories. So far, Hong Kong has also escaped the rigid control over the internet which the rest of China experiences.

The mainstream media’s first response was to shrug off or deny the existence of these new media outlets that range from the Chinese-language FactWire (a consistent breaker of news stories) to Stand News and the increasingly influential English-language Hong Kong Free Press. The high level of popularity of radio in Hong Kong has also led to the emergence of a bevy of lively and popular online radio stations.

This burgeoning of new media in Hong Kong coincides with wider developments in the news industry where, even without the impact of official hostility to freedom of expression, traditional media is facing many threats to its existence. Even as the mainstream media scrambles to get onboard the digital age, the reality is that media success is ultimately determined by content. The pressures facing freedom of expression in Hong Kong mean that those who bend to these pressures are condemning themselves to a poorer quality of content. Those who do not bend will not axiomatically produce better content but have more hope of fulfilling public demand for information and analysis.

IT IS HARD TO judge how far authorities will go to control all the local media, but past actions don’t offer much hope for press freedom’s future. After all, none of this even vaguely approaches the level of media censorship on the Chinese mainland, where controls, already strict, are actually tightening as a small army patrols the internet to ensure that critical voices are quickly snubbed out. The limited space that once existed for critical commentary in official publications has also been extinguished and there is no such thing as non-state controlled media.

Hong Kong media may also want to avoid the fate of the local book-publishing industry, which seemed to be of particular concern to Beijing. So-called dissident books can no longer find a printer, let alone outlets for their sale. A number of book publishers have been kidnapped from Hong Kong and thrown in jail across the border, and the biggest bookshop chain in Hong Kong is now under mainland control.

Optimism about the media’s future in Hong Kong is in short supply. And while international media organizations have the option of relocating, the local media does not enjoy the luxury. ❶

Steven Vines
is a Hong Kong-based broadcaster and columnist, and former President of the HKFCC.

The controversial U.N. Secretary-General

 03 Boutros Boutros Ghali

United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali makes a humorous point at a professional luncheon at the FCCJ on December 20, 1993. Then-President Lew Simons (Knight-Ridder) smiles in response.


Boutros Boutros-Ghali, born on Nov. 14, 1922, in Cairo, was the first Arab as well as the first African to head the United Nations. A Coptic Christian who graduated from Cairo University in 1946, he received a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Paris in 1949 and then became a professor at Cairo University. He later held positions lecturing on law and international affairs at a wide range of universities and institutes around the world.

Boutros-Ghali entered government in 1977 as Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs. But he was no stranger to politics: his father had earlier served as Egyptian finance minister and his namesake grandfather as Egyptian prime minister until assassinated in 1910. Under President Anwar Sadat, Boutros-Ghali played a role in the Israeli-Egyptian rapprochement that resulted in the Camp David Accords of 1978. In 1991, he briefly became deputy foreign minister before moving on to the United Nations, where he became secretary-general in 1992. 

Boutros-Ghali’s five-year UN term included the peace-keeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the breakup of Yugoslavia. The most notable controversies during his term were the perceived inaction by the U.N. during the Angolan civil war and the 1994 Rwandan genocide. On the other hand, he was credited for writing “An Agenda for Peace” for the Security Council in 1992, emphasizing the importance of post-conflict peacebuilding to prevent a relapse into violence. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995 also took place during his term.

His independent espousing of certain policies led to a veto of a second term by the U.S. in 1996. He continued in his international activities, however, chairing a francophone think tank for developing countries and heading Egypt’s human rights council.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the recipient of well over two dozen foreign honors in addition to three national honors from Egypt, and some 17 honorary degrees from international universities and institutes. He died in a Cairo hospital on February 16, 2016, at the age of 93.

Charles Pomeroyeditor of Foreign Correspondents in Japan, 
a history of the Club that is available at the front desk


More journalists killed on the job in 2018

By Elana Beiser


THE NUMBER OF JOURNALISTS targeted for murder in reprisal for their reporting nearly doubled in 2018 from a year earlier, driving up the overall count of journalists killed on the job. At least 53 journalists were killed around the world between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, 2018, of whom at least 34 were singled out for murder. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists tracks three types of journalists’ deaths on the job: reprisal murders; deaths in combat or crossfire (11 last year, the lowest since 2011); and deaths on other dangerous assignments, such as covering protests that turn violent (eight last year). The total is up from 47 killed in all of last year, of whom 18 were pinpointed for murder. A total of 50 were killed in 2016.

The recent uptick in killings follows two years of decline, but comes as the jailing of journalists hits a sustained high – adding up to a profound global crisis of press freedom. The context for the crisis is varied and complex, and closely tied to changes in technology that have allowed more people to practice journalism even as it has made journalists expendable to the political and criminal groups who once needed the news media to spread their message.

ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IS a lack of international leadership on journalists’ rights and safety. The most illustrative case is the brazen murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October by Saudi agents. Khashoggi had been strongly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Ironically, the most vocal head of state in Khashoggi’s case has been Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose government has effectively shut down the independent media and is jailing more journalists than any other around the world for the third consecutive year.

The White House, traditionally a strong defender of global press freedom, equivocated on the blame for Khashoggi’s murder despite, according to the Post, CIA conclusions that only the crown prince could have ordered such an operation. President Trump essentially signaled that countries that do enough business with the United States are free to murder journalists without consequence.

The state of Maryland was the site of the deadliest single attack on the media in recent U.S. history. On June 28, a gunman entered the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in the city of Annapolis and shot dead four journalists and a sales associate. The alleged killer, Jarrod Ramos, had issued repeated threats to the paper after a defamation lawsuit he filed against it in 2012 failed. Ramos faces five counts of first-degree murder and other charges, and is scheduled to go on trial June 3, 2019, according to the Capital Gazette. The day after the massacre, Trump told reporters, “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job.” But within days, he had resumed his characteristic attacks on the press, calling the media “fake news” and journalists “enemies of the people” on social media and at rallies.

TRUMP’S BROADSIDES CAME AS the European Union grapples with its own crisis of journalist safety. Ján Kuciak, a 27-year-old investigative reporter looking into corruption in Slovakia who was shot dead alongside his fiancée in February, was the second journalist murdered for his work in the bloc after Malta’s Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a bomb placed on her car in October 2017. 

The deadliest country for journalists in 2018, Afghanistan, is a mainstay on CPJ’s annual global Impunity Index, which spotlights places where journalists are regularly murdered and their killers go free. The 13 journalists killed in Afghanistan in 2018 were the most in any year since CPJ began keeping track – including 2001, when the U.S. attacked the country and nine journalists were killed.

Journalists continue to die working in other war-torn countries, such as Syria and Yemen, but the number of journalists killed in combat or crossfire fell to its lowest since 2011, as journalists’ access is diminished or the risks become too grave to bear, leading to self-censorship, exile, or abandoning the work. In Syria, at least nine journalists were killed in 2018, compared with a high of 31 in 2012. In Yemen, three journalists were killed in 2018, and in Iraq, CPJ has not confirmed that any journalists were killed because of their work for the first time since 2012. Elsewhere in the Middle East, two Palestinian journalists were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while covering protests in the Gaza strip.

Other findings from CPJ’s research:
• Three women were killed, compared with eight in 2017. Historically, about 7 percent of journalists killed are women.
• Political groups, which includes extremists like Islamic State, were the most frequent suspected perpetrators, in 53 percent of cases.
• Politics was the most dangerous beat, covered by 62 percent of journalists killed.
• Broadcast reporter was the most dangerous job. ❶

Elana Beiser
is editorial director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.




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