Hannah Beech: How politics and censorship shape news coverage

Multiple SOPA Award winner Hannah Beech gave a sharing lecture with journalism students of Hong Kong Baptist University on Oct 15 at the HKBU SOPA Award Winners Forum.

“Censorship is very dangerous because people would count on rumours as they know the news they are receving are not authentic,” SOPA Award winner Hannah Beech said.

Working in China where news censorship exists, Beech always bears this thought in mind.

The TIME Magazine journalist gave a sharing lecture with journalism students of Hong Kong Baptist University on Oct 15 at the HKBU SOPA Award Winners Forum.

Beech won multiple SOPA Awards including Excellence in Lifestyle Coverage in 2013 and Journalist of the Year 2011.

The nine-time SOPA Award winner expressed her views on ‘How politics and censorship shape news coverage’. She shared stories of her experience working in China.

Asked about how journalists in the mainland do justice to journalism in China, Beech revealed that some of the best scopes of foreign journalists like herself came not from their own work.

“Sometimes Chinese journalists would come to me and say ’We cannot publish this but it is a great story and you should look into it.’ ”she said.

Back in 2003 when SARS spread rapidly and secretly in China, the disease was never widely reported due to the government’s blockage of news.

She met a high-ranking government official then and he asked to have a chat off the record. He wanted to know how SARS was going and whether he should take his daughter out of school.

“And I was thinking, even people who are well-connected have difficulties accessing information.” Beech recalled.

“It just shows that there was a crisis of confidence in the country. Nobody in the country knew what was going on.” she added.

Despite the barriers and people who tried to stop her from doing her job in China, Beech was still optimistic about the journalists in the country.

“You cannot close a country or news forever: that is a testament to so many brave and impassioned Chinese journalists.” she said.

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