AAA Journalist-in-residence Day 2, 3 & 4: Reality Check
The thing about being a frontline journalist is that you are required to write not just about one subject matter. In my case, the Culture Beat means that art is merely one of the many things I cover.
Basically the patten of the last three days is like this:
9am answering emails/ checking daily news items/ writing
1pm lunch appointment
3pm press conference
5pm file daily news item
7pm writing advance stories
So what have I written in the past three days?
[TV] TV revolution put on hold as HKTV gets online support but still no licence
[Film/ Obituary] Grandmaster Lau Kar-leung remembered for redefining kung fu cinema
[Film/ Culture/ Museum exhibition] Bruce Lee show could go into permanent exhibit
[Arts/ Education] Academy for Performing Arts hampered by lack of accommodation
[Art/ Cultural policy/ Property] Pioneering deal give artists cut-price space
I'm not boasting how much I have written in the past three days. But such a detailed breakdown (which I have never done before) reflects how broad this Culture Beat covers.
From cultural policy to film, TV and the arts, covering culture for a newspaper in fact requires not only news sense but also specific knowledge and in-depth understanding of the society as well as certain sensibility.
For example, when writing about the obituary for Lau Kar-leung, one must understand his importance and impact on Hong Kong's kung fu cinema so as to find the right people to comment on him. And when writing about the Academy for Performing Arts, some knowledge about Hong Kong's education system and funding policy for tertiary education is a must.
When a journalist is stressing to meet daily deadlines and given so little time to write, researching the topic in detail is not possible. This is the reality. No matter how much I want to research in-depth about a topic, time doesn't allow me to do it. I'm constantly running out of time, running out of time, running out of time...
So when to do the research? I would say whenever I have the time. I have to read and learn as much as I can in my free time - books, government/ Legco papers, films, TV shows, go to art exhibitions, etc. There is no such thing about getting off work. As a journalist, you can never get off work. You have to work around the clock, integrate work into your life and personal interests, all just to prepare yourself if one day, you are given a last minute assignment, you have all the knowledge and experience to tackle it and turn around a story as quickly as you can.
One of the issues to be discussed during this Asia Art Archive Journalist-in-residence programme is that, just how much a physical library means to us journalists who write about arts and culture. I think I've got the answer just by concluding what I experienced in the last three days.