President’s Note: The Front Seats of History
By Angie Lau, AAJA-Asia Chapter President
We are exactly where we want to be: in the front seats of history. And there has been never a time where it’s been this important to make sure we make sure we are doing our jobs right. As journalists, we have the luxury of multiple platforms to broadcast and disseminate information. And yet, it is also one of the greatest challenges of our profession.
AAJA Asia’s sixth annual New. Now. Next Media Conference (#N3Con) 2016 comes together as China’s economy slows and tightens its grip on social media; as the Panama Papers expose the shady financials of world leaders; and we witness the rise of the mobile age. Over the course of this conference, 300 journalists from across the region and the U.S. will meet to collaborate, network and innovate on how to do our jobs better. It’s a professional obligation.
I remember my first visit to Myanmar a few years ago, participating as a speaker at the East-West Center for International Media conference just as the country opened up to the world, shaking off its hermit kingdom status. As foreign journalists there discussed the challenge of the free press, we also had an opportunity to venture out into a country that did without for so long.
I was sitting on a bus next to a young man who spoke of his hopes for his country and himself. He was a young programmer who saw an opportunity to create websites for local Burmese businesses — opportunity and change after a time of persecution and strife. To him and his friends, technology was at the heart of the incredible transformation happening to his people. During those dark five decades of Myanmar’s military dictatorship, few people had fixed landlines, let alone cellphones.
Today, you can buy a basic SIM card for just K1,500 — or 20 US cents — which allows most average Burmese to have a mobile phone. Imagine the pace of that extraordinary change: from a totalitarian grip on information, banned books and information to owning a smartphone that serves as an entry to the world wide web. Anything you want to know, it’s there. Anything you want to say, there’s a platform. True freedom. The young man on the bus couldn’t believe that there were journalists like us in his country, and that now he, too, had the choices. And we kept in touch — via email, of course.
Today, there are many parts of Asia where journalism remains a courageous act. Those journalists in Maldives, arrested for protesting the increasing attacks against the media and a proposed criminal defamation law, to those activists, politicians and journalists in Thailand who are arrested for questioning the military junta’s grip on the country waiting for those elusive elections to be scheduled, to those who have been detained in China for challenging publicly those in power. But the rest of us who still can, we pick up the torch and cover those stories regardless. And thanks to our mobile age, information and dissemination can be spread… at times fast beyond the reach of those who seek to silence it. Technology has graced us with multiple platforms for global reach. It’s a powerful tool. And N3Con aims to help you use it to the best of our collective abilities.
Welcome to AAJA Asia’s New. Now. Next Media Conference 2016.
In AAJA Spirit,
AAJA Asia Chapter President
Angie is Bloomberg Anchor of First Up, the network’s flagship morning show in Asia. This award-winning journalist is a long-time member, leader and contributor of AAJA. She has served previously as Co-director of AAJA’s J Camp, and continues to serve now as President of Asia Chapter. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada, and grew her broadcast career in the U.S., Angie moved from Chicago back to Hong Kong five years ago for Bloomberg. Bloomberg TV is the world’s most-watched business news network, available in more than 340 million homes globally, and over 50 million across the Asia-Pacific.
Early bird tickets are on sale here until April 30!