23 October 2016
Red is becoming the dominant flavor in TVB News as the station tries to please its new mainland owners. 
Photo: HKEJ
Red is becoming the dominant flavor in TVB News as the station tries to please its new mainland owners. Photo: HKEJ

No local journalism interns for TVB?

Lots of things can be said about local journalism students, whom I have had some first-hand experience teaching and mentoring in the last few years.

Right, they do not usually read the newspapers – English or Chinese — because they get their news from Facebook and other websites they like.

Few of them can write a clean story.

Who cares? Only one in 10 end up in journalism, because their parents do not want them to become a midnight Cinderella with a humble starting salary that has not changed in the past two decades.

But we do need to give them a chance, because we do not want to kill the last ones with a candle in their hearts.

A popular journalism lecturer and a good friend of mine said only one out of her 100-plus students read her notes (which she spent a lot of time to prepare and, put together, are as thick as the Hong Kong Economic Journal).

Sad, but we still wish they would understand journalism is a noble job, in which you find meaning in life reading your own story in the paper.

I do.

So it is sad to learn that TVB News is not hiring local journalism students as summer interns.

From what I gather, they are hiring eight interns, half of whom are local but non-journalism students; students from mainland China make up the other half.

Apple Daily reports that no student from the journalism departments of universities including Hong Kong Baptist University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Shue Yan University and Chu Hai College will be hired by TVB’s news department on summer internships this year.

Shirley Yam Mei-ching, deputy chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, said TVB is governed by the Broadcasting Ordinance and should reveal its hiring policy.

So, should TVB News make public its policy regarding the hiring of summer interns?

Well, you do not become the No. 1 media outlet if you cannot make your own editorial decisions – and you definitely do not need to pamper journalism school professors, most of whom retired early in their journalism career.

If TVB puts candidates through a beauty parade, chances are it will get a better intern other than a journalist-in-training – especially as TVB, like other television stations, values the candidates’ appearance, voice and enunciation more than any other media outlets.

That is perhaps why a sarcastic article titled “If you do not want to be a reporter, study journalism” has become particularly popular among young journalists.

However, it does seem to me that it was a stupid decision TVB should not have made, because it is not winning, but rather driving away, young fans.

TVB News is not popular among the students I know – because of the self-imposed censorship to please its new owners, with their mainland economic interests, which has caused the station to be nicknamed “CCTVB” because of its conservative stance on controversial political matters.

It is a fading franchise that intoxicated viewers in the past but failed to catch up with the disruptive changes in society.

If TVB is no longer the top choice for summer interns, it should perhaps think about how to reconnect with the young people instead.

Turning its J5 channel into a Putonghua station with simplified Chinese subtitles only serves to convey that TVB does not want to rely on Hong Kong alone.

And more journalism students, the new blood for the industry, do not want to rely on TVB, either.

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EJ Insight writer

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