Information Services Office   19.1.2012


Prof. Anthony Y.H. Fung, director of School of Journalism and Communication
The opening concert of the ‘DIAMOND-DIAlogue‧MObile‧No Drugs: a beat-drugs mobile mentor project’
The graffiti workshop of the ‘DIAMOND-DIAlogue‧MObile‧No Drugs: a beat-drugs mobile mentor project’
Newsletter No. 391 > Feature > New Director Has Finger on Pulse of Youth

New Director Has Finger on Pulse of Youth


The Director’s Regret

On what it’s like in the School of Journalism and Communication director’s chair, Prof. Anthony Y.H. Fung said, ‘There is so much administrative work! I have to give up teaching creative media course for Year 1 students, which I had insisted for years. This is the only regret. I must squeeze time to teach it in the coming academic year.’ Professor Fung’s persistence comes from his belief that curricula are designed for students, and the best way to understand their needs and thoughts is through personal contact.

That said, Professor Fung does not regret having taken up the job. ‘I was a science student in secondary school, but my commitment to changing society made me choose journalism. I remember Prof. Leonard L. Chu, former chairman of the then Department of Journalism and Communication, encouraged us by saying that changing society was no easy job, but we should keep trying. It’s my turn to be the teacher now. I’ll pass on the sense of commitment to my students.’

Caring for Society

What’s his commitment as director of the school? ‘With rapid advances in media, the demand for journalists has risen. But the number of journalism education institutions is also increasing, which means we face greater competition and challenge.

‘We have reviewed the positioning of the school and defined the ideals of our education. We are not only educating students with professional knowledge, but also encouraging them to get involved in the community and to care for society. This broadens the scope of their learning. One of our new initiatives, through an agreement with RTHK, is letting our students produce a five-minute programme each at HK2000 and Open Line, Open View, starting February 2012. Currently a third of our students get to go on overseas exchange. I intend to increase the number of students doing that.’

Professor Fung emphasized that in addition to teaching and research, the school has to be proactive and enhance contact with the public. ‘In this connection, we have organized a series of activities such as co-organizing the “little reporter” programme with Ming Pao; jointly holding a workshop for reporters with Thomson Reuters. An Internet platform, “jcMotion” has been launched recently. The platform, taking the first letters from journalism and communication, respectively, releases the views and works on social campaign by our students via the Internet and YouTube, and runs short-term courses on journalism for secondary school students.’

New Hardware, New Centre

This summer, the school will install new facilities for its radio and television studios. ‘We will replace outdated facilities with digital broadcast and high-resolution cameras and production equipment that meet the current standard.’

The school is the pioneer of journalism and communication education and research in Hong Kong. With close to half a century’s history, the school has achieved fruitful research results. ‘We will continue to reap the geographical advantages of Hong Kong. By establishing a Greater China comparative research centre in the near future, the school is committed to consolidating its status as a premier international centre of China communication research.’

Youth Culture

Talking about research, Professor Fung is interested in youth culture and media technology. He said, ‘Young people are the source of creative ideas. They are also the most changeable sector.’

From 2001 to 2003, Professor Fung, with the help of some schools, invited secondary students to write down what they do after school every day for six months. About 10 students were invited to write every six months. Lots of stories were collected, e.g., a single-parent Secondary 3 student in Tin Shui Wai sold pirated DVDs after school.

He pointed out that there are quite a number of students in similar situations, that is, they are hard up for money and lack proper care by their families, which reflect the problems of poverty. Their parents are either working hard for a living, leaving no time to take care of them or they are jobless. As it is unlikely to get pocket money from parents, the students earn it by the easiest and fastest ways. They will then spend all the money on fashionable clothing, mobile phones, dining or leisure activities.

Professor Fung also launched a research project on cram school studies in Hong Kong. The research revealed that cram schools are welcomed by teenagers because of peer group influence. Moreover, the advertising style, the images projected by the instructors, and the pop-culture-oriented teaching methods of the cram schools contribute to their success. He said, ‘We have to reflect what’s wrong. Is it because the curriculum does not tie in with the examinations? Though students learn in the classroom, they feel lost during exams.’

Media Technology Enhancing Research

Professor Fung is not only a researcher in media technology, but also the expert in its use. Last year, with the support of the Beat Drugs Fund, co-organized with the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association, the Hong Kong Productivity Council, the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service, and Youth Outreach, the school launched a project aiming at combating drug use and providing support to teenagers. Capitalizing on new media such as smart phones and social networks, the project is entitled DIAMOND–DIAlogue•MObile•No Drugs: a beat-drugs mobile mentor project. ‘Dia’, ‘mo’, and ‘nd’ stands for dialogue, mobile, and no drugs, respectively. The project creates two virtual mentors based on real life, Diana and Edmond. Diana, a 19-year-old student of the school, likes listening to music, singing karaoke, dancing and meeting new friends. Edmond, a 22-year-old freelance artist, makes his living by playing in a band and making graffiti art.

In August 2011, the project held an opening concert featuring local singers and bands. A graffiti workshop was organized to train the participants in basic techniques and provide them with hands-on practice. Through these activities, participants were referred to Diana and Edmond via SMS when they are upset or frustrated. The messages will be handled by a team of professional social workers who identify the potentially high risk cases. Follow-up counselling service will be provided. ‘Today, young people tend to conceal their identity in communication. This makes them feel safe and they will then speak freely,’ said Professor Fung. Currently, the project has established a network of close to a thousand.

Professor Fung’s research is aligned with the school’s ideals—adopting the young people oriented approach, understanding their thoughts and needs, thereby providing proper care, and serving the community.

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