Over 200 international electronic media professionals, journalists and students and faculty of Shantou University’s Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication gathered at Shantou University last week to participate in the International Television Festival sponsored by the Li Ka-shing Foundation.
The Festival was held on May 21 and 22, with in-depth discussions focusing on the future of investigative reporting in China, problems and opportunities in investigative news programs in the US and the UK, and freedom of expression in a globalization context. The Festival offered insights into the differences and similarities between mainland China and overseas reports.
Mr. Harry Moses, producer, director and writer for CBS’s “60 Minutes”, used a recent “60 Minutes” report entitled “Court Martial in Iraq” as an example of how such a show is produced and to illustrate how its reporters dealt with pressure from the government and senior management while exercising a keen sense of justice and judgment.
Mr. Louis Wiley, executive editor of PBS’s “Frontline”, provided an overview of the state of investigative reporting in the US. Wiley also reviewed “A Dangerous Business”, the documentary program that won this year’s Pulitzer and Peabody Awards. Wiley shared his views on journalistic standards and practices and discussed various documentary techniques and styles which proved highly beneficial for his mainland counterparts.
Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (UK), Mr. Gavin MacFadyen, showed clips from the UK’s documentary programs and talked about the country’s problems and opportunities in this field. MacFadyen said the value of investigative reporting lies in its ability to direct the community’s attention to pertinent issues, which often involve conflicts of interest. This is why the investigative reporter must adhere to a strict code of professional standards in exposing the truth.
Mr. Charles Lewis, founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, spoke about the importance of freedom of expression in the context of globalization, particularly in the role of media in reporting the accountability and transparency of world governments. He believed that integrity is the foundation of society as well as the cornerstone of the investigative report.
Mr. Peter Herford, former vice president of CBS and now a professor at the Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication, drawing from his years of experience as an investigative reporter at CBS, talked about the proper use of sound and images as well as the different types of interview techniques. Herford said the reporter is the soul of the investigative report, but the reporter should avoid subjectivity by acting simply as a recorder of the facts to tell the story.
Mr. Zhang Jie, executive producer of “New Probe”, a China Central Television program, talked about the development of this program since its inception eight years ago. Zhang provided a unique perspective on the state of investigative reporting in mainland China and expressed optimism in its further development. Zhang said journalists must suppress the desire for money and power and search for the truth with uncompromising integrity.
Participants in the TV Festival included representatives from Dragon TV, Guangdong Television, Southern Television, Shenzhen TV, and Shantou TV. Others included reporters from Xinhua, Southern Weekend, Oriental Outlook as well as freelance reporters. Media professionals from as far as Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, Xinjiang, and Guangdong gathered to share their experiences.
Professor Ying Chan of the Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication said the success of this TV Festival has provided an effective platform for further communication among mainland media workers and organizations.
The TV Festival also provided a window to the Chinese media industry and will foster the further cooperation between mainland and foreign media.
25 May 2004
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