An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Intern gets a taste of life at International New York Times

Mediaworks journalist Craig Hoyle spent six weeks working at the International New York Times in Hong Kong in September and October on an Asia New Zealand Foundation internship. He describes his time living in Hong Kong working at the paper.

Hong Kong

I arrived in Hong Kong at an interesting time. It was one year since the so-called umbrella revolution, and with the protest memories fresh in everyone’s minds there was a lot of discussion about democracy and what the future held for the city.

There was a resentment among local people I spoke to who felt they were being pushed in a direction they didn’t like by the Chinese government in Beijing.

This was just one of the many issues being discussed in news meetings at the International New York Times (INYT). It’s a global organisation, and it was a change of pace being part of such an enormous network of journalists.

I was able to sit in on the daily news meetings and greatly appreciated editors and journalists who took time to explain how stories broke and what processes should be followed.

While working in the newsroom, I reported primarily to the editor responsible for fashion and travel.

I spent a week at an international watch conference in Hong Kong, and got leads there to write a couple of different stories for the paper. This gave me an insight into the target audience of the INYT – beyond the hard news, there’s a strong focus on catering to the wealthy and powerful. It was interesting to spend time in the field and see how watches played into the international trade market. I also put together several pieces on travel accessories for the adventure section.

I had some story ideas before arriving and did research on others while in Hong Kong, but I found it difficult to come up with something that was timely and hadn’t already been covered.

I pitched a story about Auckland property, but the paper had done something similar earlier in the year. I also pitched a story about Fonterra and it turned out that yes, they were interested, but they’d already assigned the story to a freelancer in New Zealand.

Likewise the New Zealand flag referendum, where I was able to contribute, but the actual reporting was done by a correspondent who was flown to Auckland for the story.

There was a lot of freedom to set my own agenda while working in the newsroom. I used the time to get to know the different sections of the paper, and how different journalists worked with each other. I was also able to network with staff from the New Zealand consulate, and worked on a piece for an Australian website about the struggles faced by the LGBT community in Hong Kong.

During my free time, I got out and did as much exploring as I could. Hong Kong’s an interesting place, and there’s a lot to see and do. I posted updates on my blog a couple of times a week, and tried to focus not just on the tourist side of things but also on the cultural aspects of the city. The effects of colonisation are still widely felt and at times it felt as though Hong Kong was in the midst of an identity crisis.

I came away from Hong Kong with a new appreciation for the complexities of Asian politics, and what it means to balance history with the modern age. I’d love to visit again or perhaps work there in the future.

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January 2016