N3Con 2014 – A conference of constant learning

By AAJA-Asia member Lauren Hardie in Seoul

In this profession, no matter our achievements, we are all constantly learning.

CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout interviews Jeff Widener, photographer of “Tank Man,” at N3Con on June 7, 2013. (Photo by Sharon Pian Chan)
CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout interviews Jeff Widener, photographer of “Tank Man,” at N3Con on June 7, 2013. (Photo by Sharon Pian Chan)

That was a major takeaway for me from AAJA-Asia’s fourth annual New.Now.Next Media Conference held at The University of Hong Kong. As the winner of AAJA-Asia’s inaugural Professional Development Travel Stipend Program, I was able to attend the event, better known as N3Con. It was an intense three-day gathering of media professionals joining forces to share their pool of knowledge, and even the most senior of journalists could be seen sitting in the wide ranges of presentations.

“The Shot Seen Around the World”

"I don't take pictures, I want to feel pictures," Widener said about shooting in black and white. "Color over complicates things." Photo credit: Sunshine de Leon, @sunshinemnl
“I don’t take pictures, I want to feel pictures,” Widener said about shooting in black and white. “Color over complicates things.” Photo credit: Sunshine de Leon, @sunshinemnl

A standout session for me was the conversation between Kristie Lu Stout (anchor and correspondent for CNN International) and former AP photographer, Jeff Widener about one of the most famous photographs ever taken. Twenty-five years later, “Tank Man” remains a global symbol of defiance.

Calling it the scariest thing he had ever covered, Widener retold the story of the iconic photo, which he had taken during the 1989 student protests at Tiananmen Square. Just the day before, he had been injured in the melee and in the interest of self-preservation, stayed in. He took the globally recognized shot from his hotel room. While a journalist’s instinct may be to run toward danger, Widener pointed out the importance of being careful, saying simply, “You can’t cover any news if you’re dead.”

The Link Between Social Networks and Your Career

“LinkedIn for Pros”
“LinkedIn for Pros”

Though I am already on LinkedIn, Deepa Sapatnekar (Head of LinkedIn Corporate Communications, India & Hong Kong) gave an enlightening presentation on how journalists can optimize the social network. Sapatnekar offered techniques for getting the most out of the network to not only find jobs, but also source contacts for stories by carefully refining searches. Increasing visibility is a must for both full-timers and freelancers, and according to Sapatnekar, one of the most effective ways to do that on LinkedIn is to join and be active in relevant groups. In addition to answering very specific questions, the speaker also offered attendees a free one-year premium LinkedIn account, which was an unexpected perk at the end of an already beneficial presentation.

Beyond the Panels

From “Dispatches from Disaster Zones” to “Landing a Job in the Digital Age” and hearing from “Women Leaders in Journalism,” the remaining panels were both informative and inspirational. But the learning continued outside the conference rooms, where I was able to meet and chat with people one-on-one. These and other interactions showed me the true value of N3Con: Making professional contacts, and also an array of friends from across the region.

For example, after striking up a conversation with William Chang (Internships & alumni coordinator at The University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre), he was nice enough to give me an impromptu resume critique during lunch. My first interaction with Madison Park (digital news producer for CNN International) was a spirited discourse about the perfect burrito, and during our second conversation she showed me several recent job postings at CNN in Hong Kong.

The most memorable moment for me, however, was when Paul Cheung (AAJA’s President) and Angie Lau (lead anchor of Bloomberg Television Asia) wrapped up the event by echoing AAJA’s unofficial theme: To become a member, you don’t have to be Asian, you don’t have to be American, you don’t even have to be a journalist. Regardless of experience or affiliation, the main requirement for being a part of this organization is simply the dedication to supporting and promoting diversity in media – a tenet that continues to prove crucial, no matter our achievements.

And now, an excessive amount of group selfies

With Angela Kubo @aekubo and Jason Gatewood @StarrWulfe at the FCC Dinner

Selfie in an Elevator with Ramy Inocencio @RamyInocencio, Sunshine de Leon @sunshinemnl, Wendy Tang @wwtang, Xiaoming Oaij, Madison Park @ MadisonCNN, Jason Gatewood @StarrWulfe, and Håvard Ferstad

With Jason Gatewood @StarrWulfe

With Devon Wong @devonwong, Sunshine de Leon @sunshinemnl, Angie Lau @AngieTVLau, Paul Cheung @pcheung630, Sharon Pian Chan @sharonpianchan, and Bobby Caina Calvan @bobbycalvan

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