As journalists, we’re taught to refuse “freebies,” the gifts that may influence our work. But I’m thrilled that seven Pulitzer-winning journalists accepted a free trip to Hong Kong last week. If nothing else, they made our job a bit easier.
My journalism teaching is a mix of what I learned in school, what I’ve gleaned from my own journalism of the past 20 years, and my journalistic instincts today. Still, as a freelance teacher, I don’t often get the feedback that “Yes, you’re doing it the right way.”
Which is one reason why the Pulitzer Prize-Winners Workshop, hosted by Hong Kong Baptist University, left such an impression. It wasn’t just drawing inspiration from seven of the best that American journalism has to offer. But how their words reinforced our own.
On hand for the week were Jim Amoss, editor of The Time-Picayune in New Orleans, the 1997 and 2006 winner in the Public Serve category; Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times, a 2009 winner for Explanatory Reporting; Hank Klibanoff, a 2007 winner for History; Michael Parks, the 1987 winner for International Reporting; Jane Perlez of the New York Times, a 2009 winner for International Reporting; Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the 2005 winner for Commentary; and Damon Winter of the New York Times, the 2009 winner for Feature Photography.
During a mid-week break in the discussions, I sat in the news lab with two colleagues. “It’s so good to hear them saying exactly what I’m teaching,” said Robin Ewing, an American. Before I could second that, our Japanese colleague, Masato Kajimoto, exclaimed: “I was thinking the same thing!”
My view is that students can’t hear the principles of serious, responsible journalism often enough. Especially at HKBU, where we’re training the future generation of Chinese democrats. (That’s democrat with a lower-case “d.”)