Rumors have been swirling for some time, but now it's official. I've signed the contract. In January I will be joining the faculty of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, where I will be responsible for teaching "New Media," among other things. (That picture there is the colonial-era building where the JMSC is located.)
I'm really excited about this. Being on the JMSC faculty will enable me to continue doing many of the things I'm already doing, but in a more structured and long-term kind of way, plus teaching.
I look forward to helping journalism students figure out what skills they need - not just technical, but ethical and intellectual - to lead their profession into new uncharted territory. Clearly the question of where journalism is headed, what students ought to be taught, and whether journalism schools remain relevant (if they ever were) is subject to much heated debate. (Yes, I will post soon with my own response to Nick Lemann's New Yorker "encyclical" - as
Josh Marshall Andrew Sullivan termed it - on citizens' journalism. [Thanks Sree for pointing out my initial brainfart there.]) I myself have questioned the point of journalism schools, and have written about the need to re-think journalism education. But I do believe that while the emergence of citizens' media is exciting, important, and ought to be supported, the news business and journalism as a profession must also find a way to survive. Democracy is not possible without informed public discourse. That discourse, I believe, can be best served by a combination of professional journalism as well as journalism performed by concerned citizens. I look forward to challenging my students to think about how they as professionals can best serve this public discourse - and how they can work collaboratively with concerned citizens who have other day jobs but who are for the most part eager to contribute to the cause of a better informed public. The real threat to journalism does not come from amateurs: the real threat to journalism comes from information monopolies, propaganda, lies, censorship, surveillance, and ignorance. Journalists (and journalism professors) should spend more time fighting those true threats rather than wasting time arguing about whose journalism is more legitimate... but more about that in a future post.
... but that's not the only reason I'm excited! Being based in Hong Kong is a fabulous fit for my China and Asia expertise. At Hong Kong U I hope to spearhead research about the landscape of online citizens media in Asia, how new media ecosystems are forming with traditional media, and what this means for journalism. I look forward to supporting and participating in new experiments in online citizens media locally in Hong Kong and around the region. And last but not least, Hong Kong is an ideal place from which to continue my work on related to online discourse and freedom of speech in China.
..and yes, I will continue to guide Global Voices Online as it continues to grow. Much of what I do for GVO will overlap with my work related to online citizens media at HKU. What's more, the plan is that GVO will increasingly be run not by myself and co-founder Ethan Zuckerman, but by people from outside North America and Western Europe whose voices GVO is meant to amplify. And yes, I will continue to be a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society until the end of this year, after which point I look forward to joining the ranks of Berkman Affiliates who make up an amazing collaborative brain trust.
Now I just have to figure out where I want to live in Hong Kong. After a week of looking round, I'm torn between the convenience (but high rents and small apartment sizes) of the Pok Fu Lam area and Western Mid-Levels, or the cheap rents, seaside views, and proximity to nature (but longer commute) on Lamma Island. Any local Hong Kongers got any opinions for me?