Voices to be heard
First Asian Forum for Deans of Journalism and Communication held in Shanghai
Published: Dec 06, 2016 06:58 PM

The First Asian Forum for Deans of Journalism and Communication was held last week in Shanghai with about 100 representatives from 22 countries and regions participating. The theme of the forum was the role of journalism in promoting harmony and constructing the Asian community. The Global Times has compiled a selection of speech excerpts from the esteemed lecturers.


The First Asian Forum for Deans of Journalism and Communication is held last week in Shanghai with about 100 representatives from 22 countries and regions participating. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai International Studies University

Zhao Qizheng, Dean of School of Journalism, Renmin University of China

Zhao told the audience that he has attended many forums and seminars targeting editors, journalists and editorial staff. This forum is of more significance, however, as its participants are educators who train and cultivate future journalists. He attached great importance to the practice of "teachers influence students and students as media staff influence society."

In general, voices from Asia don't sound as loud as from the West, Zhao said, as opinions from Asian countries are often neglected. Zhao pointed out that Western media such as CNN deliberately exaggerate negative aspects of Chinese society and culture. It's vital, he said, for the greater Asian community to have more direct and extensive information exchanges and multilateral cooperation, which will result in voices from Asia finally being heard and recognized.

Under the background of new media, globalization and de-globalization, media across the world face more challenges, especially with Donald Trump as president-elect of the US. Zhao pointed out that journalists exchanges should be promoted to pioneer a new public diplomacy, which is different from the traditional public diplomacy. Journalism educators can play an important role in this.

Jiang Feng, Party Secretary, Shanghai International Studies University

Shanghai International Studies University has introduced a multi-language journalism program for the past several years and will continue to cultivate excellent comprehensive journalism talents to media industry. Together with other institutions, SISU is willing to establish a journalism platform in Asia. True and balanced Chinese and Asian images can be expressed and published through the professional journalists.

Wang Jianjun, President of Shanghai Media Group

As the only speaker from within the media industry instead of an educational institution, Wang told the audience that to answer the challenges of new media, SMG has been making efforts on exploration and the practice of building and completing a system of international communications utilizing the Internet.

She gave detailed statistical data about SMG's market share and development trends in recent years, which witnessed the group's transition from a traditional media outlet to a platform using both old and new media. It is necessary for Asian media, Wang said, to grasp the opportunity to gain its power and influence matching the status and role of Asia in the Internet and the international public opinion field. Wang added that the group welcomes exchanges between media industries and universities from other Asian communities.

Wu Fei, Zhejiang University

Facebook recently announced its dismissal of its Trending Topic team and will instead from now on use algorithms to snatch and share news bites. To Facebook users while this may pose some technical challenges, it also seems to imply that, going forward, more news writing and editing will be done by robots. The question, then, is how human journalists can survive in the media industry?

What will happen if the concepts of journalism paradigm and communication paradigm are not referred to 19th century knowledge structures and frameworks as we now talk about? In this digital era, every citizen can be a journalist, so are professional journalists still necessary? The current answer could be yes.

Computers feel no emotion and therefore fail to make in-depth analysis on complex events and people. From this perspective, mankind has its own advantages. But on the other side, technology advancement is continuously challenging the traditional paradigm. To demonstrate this, Facebook's new algorithms will emphasize the new values of journalism: social priority, effective information, multiple perspectives and also authenticity.

Kaarle Nordenstreng, University of Tampere, Finland

In the journalism education domain, the scale has been expanded in the past 100 years. Particularly in the last 20 years, the amount of reporters and the number of journalism education programs have seen explosive growth.

The boundaries of various subjects are breaking down, making many areas more integrated, which presents new requirements and challenges to journalism education and journalists themselves.

Journalists and journalism as an industry seemingly have a stronger independence. Sovereign journalism has been consolidated.

The relationship between journalists and other fields, for example a more generalized social link, might be weakened.

In particular, we discuss that Donald Trump was elected president, as well as Britain's exit from the EU, which is quite far away from common people's daily life.

It is a phenomenon that journalists and the world of journalism are very self-centered. A growing number of people have recognized the problem and are trying to solve it.

Akhtar Sultana, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Social media in Bangladesh brought great opportunities but also enormous challenges. There is a severe lack of education in Bangladesh. The literacy rate of people older than 7 is only 56.9 percent, based on 2008 figures. There is no way for people to develop new media, whose basic premise is that they lack access to schooling. Technology and new media may be a good thing or a curse.

Therefore, how to use them is the key. A short time ago, there was an illiterate fisherman. He let someone else help him register a Facebook account, but he did not know what he was doing and eventually was cheated by some malicious people.

If all people are able to gain access to the Internet, sufficient electricity supply and affordable computers should be ensured as a prerequisite. In our country, the average family monthly income is relatively low, equivalent to $145 per month, so many people still cannot afford a home computer or device.

There is a digital divide. The wealthy possess computers with 24-hour Internet. In this age, information is power. With the Internet the wealthy become wealthier, which has widened the gap between the rich and the poor. As global citizens we cannot escape new media because it will certainly broaden our horizons and make our country more powerful. Meanwhile, we have to be very cautious.

Hye Eun Lee, Ewha Womans University, South Korea

I have made an investigation into the reason why Korean soap dramas prevail around the world, especially in Africa and the US, where there are "Korean waves" despite the fact that some literal contexts are not understood by non-Koreans. My interviewees were from different countries.

I reached the conclusion that Korean television serials could become widespread and favored by people from different backgrounds due to the discrepancy in content and context which are generally close to the audience's real life and emotional inclination. Although South Korea has exported large amounts of its TV series to other countries, audiences worldwide are not bored of them because of the diversity and differences of each program.

Hao Xiaoming, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Information may not be displayed in a simple form. In the era of big data, a pile of unorganized data means nothing to the public. We need to acquire some special skills to turn it into the main content of the news, or the story we want to tell. It is acknowledged that ordinary people think only in a linear mode. You will find that the big data is not in a straight line type from top to bottom, if you integrate it.

It requires strong skills to show a very complex image to people who only think in a straight line. For example, it is difficult to demonstrate such complex data in a two-dimensional newspaper. However, if the complicated data is visualized, it will be easily understood and accepted.

Most journalists do a simple job to record every hour and every day. Actually, this can be done by high school students. The president of Columbia University used to put forward a view that we should train the talent in the academic circles, rather than simply reporting the events, and the journalism students should be able to predict what might happen in the future. If there is adequate data, such things as the financial crises and earthquakes can be predicted.