N3Con Highlights – from N3Con 2019 Fellowship Recipients

In 2019, AAJA-Asia once again awarded travel fellowships to AAJA members so they could attend our New. Now. Next. Media Conference in Hong Kong. The stipends were worth $350 for Asia chapter members and $500 for US-based members. Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

Erum Salam, AAJA-NY

N3CON was an excellent opportunity to meet other people in the industry. It was exciting and comforting to hear of other people’s struggles and aspirations that mirrored my own. AAJA is a fantastic forum for discussion and community-building.

My favorite workshop was about reverse-image searching. I learned about the alternatives to Google images. There were so many great techniques to investigate if a photo had been doctored or altered in any way. I made great connections and friendships with people like Reyna Desai, a HK local who is an audience editor at the NY Times. I loved connecting with other minority women and having a laugh and a sigh about our experience as women of color in newsrooms and in life in general. All the students from Ryerson University refueled my desire to continue to work in Journalism.

I think AAJA is a great organization advocating for diversity of people and stories to largely homogenous newsrooms. We need to convince management in newsrooms why it’s important to have a relationship with our respective organizations. The more network connections we have, the more powerful we are as a group. 

I encourage anyone, especially recent graduates to get involved with AAJA.

Kye Lee Koi, AAJA-Asia (Singapore)

How did I find out about N3Con? 

It was through Tom Benner and Joon-Nie Lau. I had met them separately for work-related matters in 2018 and Tom was kind enough to show me the magazine that was published in conjunction with the conference. I remember he told me about the N3 magazine and how he was looking for contributors and ideas for the next issue. 

Naturally, this piqued my curiosity and I started searching about AAJA-Asia and its core objectives. I reconnected with Tom and Joon-Nie during an AAJA-Asia Singapore subchapter potluck get together this year and decided to join as a member and subsequently volunteered to help out with the magazine. 

Fast forward to May, and there I was attending N3Con held at the University of Hong Kong. I was thrilled knowing that I would be connecting with members from various media organizations, while learning insights about the state of journalism in Asia. 

One of the highlights of the conference for me was the Career Conversations program. Chow Chung-yan, Executive Editor of the South China Morning Post, gave me invaluable insights. When asked about scrutiny the paper receives on its perception of having biased reporting, Chow said: “Two people with different diversity will treat news with a different way and perspective. (But) your work is the best rebuff you can give your critic.” 

Chow’s comment reminded me of my days as a journalist for mainstream media in Malaysia. Criticisms were made to us and the newspaper, but we did not back down. We rebuffed critics with our reporting. That was one of my highlights during N3Con, because it reminded me that no matter what we do, a journalist has to be fair and transparent in their reporting. 

Apart from the inspirational talk by Chow, the panels – China on the Rise and Using Social Media to Mine for Stories in China – were insightful. The speakers were knowledgeable in their respective fields. It was a good learning opportunity for me. Another program I found very interesting was the newsroom tour. It was a great to see how newsrooms in different media organizations functioned. 

As an AAJA-Asia member and a participant of the 2019 N3Con, the conference demonstrated the importance of having a good network within the industry, and the opportunity to connect with new people made the event special and amazing. It motivated me to continue to write and further strengthen my belief that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. 

Julia Munslow, AAJA-Asia (Malaysia)

After I attended my first AAJA conference in Houston last year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this year’s N3Con and reconnect with Asia chapter members whom I’d met in 2018. I enjoyed learning about the state of the journalism industry in Asia and exploring innovative storytelling methods with fellow AAJA members.

At N3Con, one of the most impactful sessions was the state of press freedom in Asia, particularly as it coincided with the 30th anniversary of the deadly crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests and with ongoing protests against Hong Kong’s extradition bill. It was inspiring to hear about how journalists have continued to shed light on important stories even when working under authoritarian regimes. Thanks to its comprehensive panels and workshops, N3Con was a powerful reminder of the importance of journalism in Asia. 

Sumin Yoo, AAJA-Asia (Seoul)

Weeks after my 3-day visit to Hong Kong, the N3Con almost feels surreal. I went through my Instagram and Photo gallery during the conference dates and the inspiring moments instantly came back to life. Since I recently went through a transitional phase and have returned to the broadcasting/media after jumping around industries for about a year, remarks from the “Launching your media career” session especially resonated with me.

In the session which went on during the lunch hour on June 1st, seasoned journalists such as Angie Lau and Peter Wong, together with the renowned leadership coach Ron Brown gave invaluable life/career advice to aspiring/early-stage media professionals. 1) Listening to one’s inner voice and you are the only one in charge of your future directions 2) Cultivating your core strength  3) Valuing your tribes (community), and sharing them with others – were the three pillars of their messages.  Listening dearly to my inner voice and facing my true desire and strength led me back to this field, so their insights, heartfelt advice for future generations quashed the fragment of doubts that remained inside of me. Out of 4 panelists, Angie’s words particularly struck my cord. Angie has been my role model ever since I became interested in broadcasting, but it was not just her stellar career trajectory as an anchor that made me respect her. Her continuous attempt to keep abreast with the current media landscape such as founding the blockchain media startup and also her deep involvement in various communities and causes while constantly voicing her thoughts had me ponder what a genuine communicator is.  Although I didn’t get to have a chance to talk to her at the conference, her words at the session were inspirational enough to put me in the direction where our paths will cross sometime in the future. 

Furthermore, as an ex-founding member of a media startup, another session that closely aligned with my interest was the “Rethinking Formats” session delivered by multimedia journalists and professionals innovating the media landscape. Delivered by the Producer/Editor of TicToc by Bloomberg, Director, and Podcaster from SCMP, and other innovators on the ground, I could see how closely they are observing the audience and consumers’ preference, and reflecting those trends in their daily business cycles. All in all, N3Con 2019 has both personally and professionally expanded my horizon, and the lessons learned this time laid the foundation that could take my career to the next level. Thank you AAJA-Asia for giving me the opportunity to be exposed to amazing individuals and leaders in this industry, charged with life-changing insights, ideas, and energy. I hope to see everyone at next year’s N3Con!  

Karen Wang, AAJA-LA

“Reform the way I think about building up my career”

For me, the most disturbing stage to have as a young student journalist is not knowing who I want to be. I have had that anxiety since the first day of my college. I am so lucky that N3Con gives me the chance to find and talk to a mentor and role model, who could be the one throughout my whole career.

I am grateful for the opportunity to directly speak to industry leaders and experts and learning from their success. I was especially impressed by the panelist Angie Lau, who talked about the beginning of her career and how she regretted not accepting an anchor job offer. I learned to embrace my talent and avoid hesitation when seeking jobs. Also, the lunch conversation offers valuable insights and practical advice about entering the job market. 

Another experience I love about the N3 Con is grasping professional journalistic skills like data processing. It facilitates the editorial expression and provides a solution for data-driven stories, which will likely be a significant part of my future focus. Exposed to such hard skills in an early stage of my career, I will be fully equipped for potential story ideas.