Bloomberg Editor John Liu tells GBJ commencement that quality journalism, technological advances offer optimism to battered media industry

GBJ graduates pose outside of the School of Journalism and Communication

Rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence technology give journalists “great reason to be optimistic about the future” of an industry that has struggled with declining audiences and revenues for the past decade, John Liu, Bloomberg News Executive Editor for Greater China, told 2018 Global Business Journalism Program graduates at the annual commencement ceremony on June 5.

John Liu addresses the 2018 GBJ commencement

Innovative media outlets such as Bloomberg News and The New York Times have harnessed the power of AI to improve the quality of their data analysis and to increase audience engagement by offering digital news stories of particular interest to each news consumer.

“Things are starting to get better know, because people are discovering that consumers are willing to pay for good content,” Liu said in an address at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication. “The next big step, we believe, is AI telling you what you want to read, what you want to watch, before you know it’s there, even translating it into the language you want to read,” he said.

Sixteen international students were awarded master’s degrees in Global Business Journalism in a 90-minute ceremony, while 19 Chinese students received master’s certificates in addition to their master’s degrees from the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication.

Students from 65 nations and regions have participated in the Global Business Journalism Program since its creation in 2007. This year, Icigumije Brice became the first GBJ graduate from the African nation of Burundi.

Dr. Hang Min, GBJ Co-Director and TSJC Associate Dean for International Affairs, said that at a time of “dramatic change in China and beyond” that it is important for young journalists to have “multiple perspectives” and to offer “constructive solutions and not just destructive criticisms.”

“Stay open,” she urged the graduates. “Never close any window of opportunity and never say no to something because it’s not your planned path.”

GBJ Co-Director Rick Dunham told the students and their families that the media industry needs to do more to boost the careers of women.

“In the GBJ program, about three-fourths of our students are women, and with rare exceptions, women are the top performers in our program. Yet many of these high achievers may face obstacles in the job market. Women suffer discrimination, overt and hidden, in hiring, promotion and pay,” he said. “We must overcome these insidious forms of male discrimination. In the words of the American civil rights anthem of the 1960s, ‘we shall overcome, some day.’”

Professor Dunham noted that TSJC “is leading the way in empowering women,” and Liu noted that five of the six GBJ grads hired by Bloomberg have been women.

“Not only is advancing women in the workplace the right thing to do, it is also good business,” he said.

Yuki Nakajima wrote the top thesis among international students.

Top GBJ students also offered their perspectives on the program. Speaking for the Chinese graduates, Zhu Yuxuan, hailed GBJ as “a great program for us to develop a global vision … while we are gaining professional knowledge.” International student Zhu Yuxuan, of Japan said GBJ “has allowed me to broaden my horizons and meet friends from all over the world.”

“Every day, we met talented and outstanding students from all over the world, and had the chance to interact with local Chinese students,” she said. “All of us played together, learned together, and progressed together over these two years, and I’m sure every one of us emerged as a better person than we were two years ago.”

Sarah Talaat of the United States, chosen as the GBJ speaker at the TSJC ceremony later in the day, said GBJ students were not only taught practical journalism skills, but also “how to pursue a career grounded in truth and patience, brought about by hard work and dedication, and held to the highest standards of our chosen fields.” She predicted that the program’s sponsors “will see a return on your investments in the shape of better journalism and communication for the benefit of the world.”

Speaking for GBJ graduates was Grace Shao of Canada from the Class of 2015, who worked at CGTN for two years and is returning to academia this fall to study data journalism at Columbia University in New York. Shao, who covered top global economic issues and developments in Korea during her time at CGTN, urged graduates to “undersell yourself” and take care of their health.

“This industry isn’t for the meek,” she said. We have to be on our toes at all times; you have to have writing skills, multimedia skills, analytical skills, people skills, presentation skills, and so on, I can’t think of a job that demands a more well-rounded candidate. Believe in your talents and all that you’ve learned here from your Tsinghua professors!”

Top TSJC officials taking part in the ceremony included Executive Dean Chen Changfeng, Administrative Dean Hu Yu and Administrative Dean of Research Shi Anbin. Professor Zeng Fanxu was honored as top academic supervisor. Graduating students Li Chengzhang, Shi Lin, Quan Yue, Yuki Nakajima and Linda Lew received special awards for their contribution to the GBJ program.


GBJ Commencement Address: It’s time to end sexism in journalism. Now.

GBJ co-directors Hang Min and Rick Dunham on graduation day, 2018.

Here is the complete text of my commencement address to the Global Business Journalism graduation ceremony at Tsinghua University on July 5, 2018.

大家好。Добрый день. Welcome.

I am honored, on behalf of the International Center for Journalists and the international faculty of the Global Business Journalism Program, to congratulate all of you on your successful completion of your studies.

This special group includes some of the best young journalists in China, along with a diverse mixture of nations: Japan, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Pakistan, Burundi, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, and the United States. Some of you already have made a mark on the world of business journalism during your Tsinghua years. I have great confidence that even more of you will have an impact in the years to come.

Since 2007, the Global Business Journalism program has improved the quality of journalism – and public understanding of business and economic issues – in China and around the world. You have benefited from cross-cultural learning, practical journalism training, and a varied curriculum featuring both Chinese and international professors at one of the world’s great universities.

In the GBJ program, about three-fourths of our students are women, and with rare exceptions, women are the top performers in our program. Yet many of these high achievers may face obstacles in the job market. Women suffer discrimination, overt and hidden, in hiring, promotion and pay. In many countries, it is acceptable to deny jobs or promotions to women because the employer fears they will become wives and mothers, and will not be as committed to their day jobs as men.

Subtle forms of discrimination continue to subvert women’s empowerment even in so-called progressive countries. A recent study of Twitter use by American political reporters found that of the 25 reporters who received the most social media replies from male political reporters in the United States, zero were women. And whose posts did male reporters share? Only three of the 25 most frequently shared reporters were women. It’s no surprise that the vast majority of “experts” quoted by male reporters tend to be male. It’s time for change.

Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists, was one of 10 prominent media leaders who last month proposed 14 steps to combat industry sexism. “It’s time to stop talking about the need for equality and start actively reforming the industry,” Joyce and the other leaders wrote.

We must overcome these insidious forms of male discrimination. In the words of the American civil rights anthem of the 1960s, “we shall overcome, some day.”

Barrows Dunham

My grandfather, Barrows Dunham, a philosopher, author and professor, wrote a book in 1947 entitled “Man Against Myth.” It analyzed social myths that powerful forces employ to maintain their power.

But a feminist author, Betty Millard, was unimpressed by the title, “Man Against Myth,” and produced her own tract in response: “Woman Against Myth.” She decried the cultural and religious customs cited to subjugate women around the world.

As Millard noted, Confucius wrote many centuries ago: “It is a law of nature that women should be kept under the control of men and not allowed any will of their own.” Confucius, without doubt, was a great man. But he was not always right.

Sadly, Millard’s analysis is still relevant today. A GBJ student, in his thesis this year, argued that Islamic feminists believe that “women’s struggle for equality with men is doomed to fail, as women are placed in ‘unnatural settings’ where they are denigrated and burdened with paid work on top of domestic labor.”

I believe in academic freedom, but I do not agree with the sentiments expressed in this quotation.

Fortunately, the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication is leading the way in empowering women. Our executive dean, Dr. Chen Changfeng, is a brilliant scholar and inspirational leader. Our associate dean for international affairs, my friend and GBJ co-director Dr. Hang Min, has earned a global reputation for media management and cross-cultural partnerships. Doctors Fan Hong and Dai Jia are popular GBJ professors, and Li Laoshi, Rose Li, is our indispensable international administrator. And more than half of the keynote speakers at our annual Tsinghua Business Journalism Forums have been women.

You see, women can achieve, if given the opportunity and freed of institutional and societal constraints. I hope that all of you in the graduating class of 2018 take inspiration from the accomplishments of your professors and your peers. It is sometimes harder for women to succeed in journalism. That’s the reality. Men still run most news organizations, and men make most of the hiring decisions. But through persistence and sheer excellence, women are gaining ground. I hope to live long enough to see some of you lead the journalistic, economic and even political worlds of the 21st century.

I close by quoting my favorite philosopher, my grandfather, Barrows Dunham. During a lecture in Massachusetts, he expressed optimism about the battle for social progress. “Even now,” he said, “we ourselves are determining the future, not by knowing what it will be, but by conceiving of what it can be.”

I look forward to you determining the future and changing our world. I will cherish your future achievements, unfettered by ancient superstitions and prejudices. Please stay in touch.

谢谢, 大家。Большое спасибо. Thank you.


Come join us! Global Business Journalism students offer tips on navigating the Tsinghua application process


Come join us!

Global Business Journalism Program student journalist Botlhe Dikobe of Botswana produced this engaging video to celebrate the completion of her first semester in the Global Business Journalism Program. It has tips from current students on how to apply for our English-language master’s program at Tsinghua University, and what’s in store for you if you’re accepted.

Remember, our program is a partnership between the International Center for Journalists, the pre-eminent journalism training organization in the world, Bloomberg News, the most respected source of business news and data, and Tsinghua University, China’s top university.

Please share this with your family and friends as we build our community and seek more great applicants for the 2018-19 academic year. The deadline for early admission applications is January 15. The final deadline is March 1. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.

For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/

Video: Why the GBJ program is a great choice for a master’s program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/01/18/video-why-the-global-business-journalism-program-at-tsinghua-is-a-great-choice-for-graduate-school/comment-page-1/#comment-2301

Meet GBJ’s students (video): https://rickdunhamblog.com/2018/01/08/meet-the-students-who-make-global-business-journalism-the-best-program-of-its-kind-in-the-world/

Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn

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Meet the students who make Global Business Journalism the best program of its kind in the world

The Global Business Journalism master’s program at Tsinghua University is made up of a diverse group of students from around the world. Students from more than 60 nations have learned from GBJ’s experienced international journalists and eminent Chinese scholars over the past decade.

GBJ student Narantungalag Enkhtur, a former Bloomberg TV Mongolia reporter, produced a video that allows you to meet current students from Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America and hear them explain what that they are learning in this world-class program at China’s top university.

GBJ was created in 2007 by Tsinghua and the International Center for Journalists, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that is committed to journalism excellence and training around the world. Bloomberg News is the program’s chief sponsor.

The first round of applications for September 2018 admission is open until January 15, 2018. The second round of applications runs from January 16, 2018 to March 1, 2018. An earlier application improves your chances of receiving a scholarship.

For more information on the program: https://rickdunhamblog.com/2017/11/20/apply-now-for-the-global-business-journalism-program-tsinghua-university/

Apply here: http://gradadmission.tsinghua.edu.cn

GBJ nations of students Jirong


A Fourth of July analysis of Donald Trump’s first six months in power

RickTrumpJuly4

What is America’s place in the world on the first July 4 of the Trump administration?

As a regular analyst of American politics, policy and economics, I am often asked to explain Donald Trump to global audiences. Here is my Fourth of July segment on World Insight with Tian Wei:


Truth matters: A commencement address to Global Business Journalism Program graduates

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Here is the text of my address to the 2017 graduating class of the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University on June 28, 2017.

大家好。Добрый день. Benvenuti. Welcome.

I am honored, on behalf of the International Center for Journalists and the international faculty of the Global Business Journalism Program, to congratulate all of you on your successful completion of your graduate studies.

You are a special group – the best young business journalism minds in China, along with a unique mixture of nations: Iran, Israel, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Canada, and the United States. Some of you already have made a mark on the world of business journalism during your Tsinghua years. I have great confidence that many more of you will have an impact in the years to come, in journalism systems as disparate as Iran, the United States and China.

All of us in this room have our differences – cultural, geographical, even political – but one thing that unites us is the search for truth. As Jim Asher, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for his role in the Panama Papers investigation, said recently: “A world without facts can’t function.”

We live in an unsettling era when the concept of “truth” can be a matter of dispute. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Donald Trump, has declared that the White House is entitled to its own “alternative facts.” Whatever that means.

To the graduating class of 2017 and your proud professors, that’s just plain nonsense. We owe it to the public, whether we operate in the United States, China, or anywhere around the world, to share the truth, as best as we can tell it, and to explain what the truth means to our audience. As the 2017 National Press Club president, Jeffrey Ballou, said to fellow American journalists in Akron, Ohio: “Truth is not a game at all.”

The esteemed Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, in Братья Карамазовы, The Brothers Karamazov, summed up the predicament of the perpetual prevaricator. “The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie,” he wrote, “comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.”

We must respect knowledge, respect truth, and respect ourselves. We owe it to the global public to use the knowledge we have gained about China and about global economics to provide our audiences with intelligent, insightful and factual reports. With your newfound expertise on the Chinese economy, globalization, corporate strategies and much more, you can communicate clearly and comprehensively, on any multimedia platform, about issues ranging from the Paris climate change accords to the Belt and Road Initiative.

One of my favorite philosophers, Nelson Mandela, said that “a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

You have something very special – tools that you can use to make the world a more informed and a more just place. Because, as our dean, Liu Binjie, said in his speech welcoming many of you to the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication in September 2016, “Justice is the soul of the news.”

Barbara Cochran, my successor as president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute in Washington, reminds us that truth is an imperfect pursuit, and journalists are imperfect people. “All news organizations make mistakes from time to time,” she said recently, “but they are trying to tell the truth and generally do it well.”

Truth and justice. The Global Business Journalism program has been trying to live up to the highest international standards for the past 10 years. Since 2007, the GBJ program has combined rigorous academics with practical journalism training in a cross-cultural setting at one of the world’s great universities.

Thanks to the vision of brilliant minds such as Professor Li Xiguang, ICFJ president Joyce Barnathan, and ICFJ vice president Vjollca Shtylla, the GBJ program was created. Thanks to the financial and journalistic support of Bloomberg News, ICFJ, the Knight Foundation and Bank of America, it has grown and prospered. Thanks to the commitment of Tsinghua leaders like Dr. Hang Min, Dean Shi, Dean Chen, Dean Hu, Professor Lee Miller, Professor Dai Jia, and many more, it has a bright future. Thanks to dedicated and high-achieving alumni from some 60 countries, GBJ is improving the quality of journalism – and public understanding of economic issues — in China and around the world.

I close by quoting my favorite philosopher, my grandfather, Barrows Dunham. In his 1947 book Man Against Myth, he concluded that understanding the truth was necessary to overcome society’s myths. “With words, as with knowledge generally,” my grandfather wrote, “there can be no substitute for constant analysis of fact.”

Truth. Justice. Words. Knowledge. Tsinghua. That pretty much sums it up. Congratulations on your achievements in the Global Business Journalism Program. I look forward to your truth-telling in the years to come.

谢谢。Thank you.


Trump, Putin and journalism in the post-truth world: A philosophical dialogue

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My conversation with Matti Virtanen, as it appeared online in Finnish.

During my latest speaking tour of Finland, I’ve been discussing the policy implications of the Trump presidency with business leaders, university students and business school alumni. But I’ve also had the chance to talk to some of the top editors in Finland about the ethical and journalistic challenges facing American reporters trying to cover a very different kind of president.Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 1.20.05 PM

Here is my conversation with Matti Virtanen, a veteran journalist with Talouselämä. Click here to read his article in Finnish.

Q: If you look at Trump’s communications as a whole, what do you think is the main difference between his and a professional politician’s rhetoric?

A: Trump’s rhetoric is more colorful and less “politically correct” than an average politician. He seems to enjoy being incendiary and provocative. He never fears the consequences of his own words.

Q: Much of political discourse is full of exaggerations and embellishments, and statements that are meaningless or “not even wrong.” Where do you draw the line that differentiates all this from lying?

A: Lying is intentionally or knowingly saying something that is untrue. It is the same as the distinction between a killing and a murder. Murder is killing with malicious intent. Lying is telling falsehoods or untruths with malicious intent. Saying that 3 million “illegal aliens” voted — and all voted for Hillary Clinton — is untrue. Once you are told it’s not true and you keep saying it, it’s a lie. (Or if you knew it was untrue when you first said it, it’s a lie.) The difference between Trump and typical politicians is that Trump’s supporters do not hold him accountable for not telling the truth. Average supporters and his advisers will lecture the press, saying you are “taking him too literally.” It’s dangerous territory for the media and for politicians when the truth is a philosophical concept and not an objective reality.

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Talking Trump in Finland.

Q: What are the most obvious lies that Trump has expressed in office? (Three examples will do, let’s forget the campaign lies for now.)

He falsely stated, over and over, that he had the biggest Electoral College landslide with Ronald Reagan, when, in reality, Barack Obama (twice), Bill Clinton (twice) and George H.W. Bush all had more. He stated without evidence that Obama tapped his phones in Trump Tower, something flatly denied by the FBI and the former Director of National Intelligence. He claimed, without offering evidence, that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote only because 3 million illegal immigrants voted for her. He said she won New Hampshire because of “massive” voter fraud. Elections officials in the states he mentioned all denied his claims, which he has repeated over and over since then. Also, he said more than 100 former Guantanamo Bay prisoners were released by Obama and have returned to the battlefield. (All but nine were released by Bush.)

Q: How is the system equipped to counter lies from the White House?

A: The media ecosystem is not set up to deal with serial lies from public officials, or, as Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called them, “alternative facts.” Trump’s strange relationship with the truth has left reporters in an uncomfortable position: report his claims factually, as you would with most public officials, and become part of a disinformation or propaganda campaign — or state that the president of the United States did not tell the truth, which makes many Americans believe that you are taking political sides and are part of “the opposition” to Trump, as Trump aide Steve Bannon puts it.

Q: Why is he getting away with lies better than his predecessors, who were also not quite immune to the syndrome?

A: Many of Trump’s supporters say it is just “Trump being Trump.” They think it is refreshing to have a “politically incorrect” president. Some find it entertaining to see the establishment ridiculed. Thus far, none of the falsehoods seem to have harmed Trump’s public standing. His approval rate has changed relatively little since it dipped during his first week in office, despite a barrage of reporting on false statements from the president.

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Speaking at an AmCham Finland “Brief on the Go” in Helsinki.

Q: What is the threshold that would trigger a formal, legal investigation of the president’s lying?

A: Either a Democratic-controlled Congress (in two years at the earliest) or a lie on a sensitive national security subject, such as his relationship with the Kremlin or possible blackmailing of him by Vladimir Putin or Russian intelligence.

Q: How long can the Republican Party remain united in defense of presidential lying?

A: Party leaders are following their followers. As long as Trump’s support among rank-and-file Republicans remains above 80 percent, as it has been since he assumed office, Republican elected officials will be cautious in they criticism. Some Republican elected officials have dismissed some of Trump’s statements as incorrect (such as his allegations of voter fraud or his claims about wiretapping), but they have not broken with Trump politically. As long as Republican voters do not abandon Trump, he will maintain a base of power in Congress.

Q: How likely is it that we are going to see an impeachment process against Trump?

A: It won’t happen as long as the Republicans control Congress — unless there is evidence that he sold out the United States to Russia for business purposes or under threat of blackmail. There is no evidence of that now. Short of that, it won’t happen in the next two years. I think it would be a mistake for Democrats, should they take control of Congress in 2019, to immediately initiate impeachment proceedings. It would look like crass politics. It would be smarter to have oversight hearings and see where the evidence leads.

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Q&A in Helsinki

Q: What if the Department of Justice refuses to appoint a special prosecutor? Does the Congress have any way around that?

A: Excellent question. Congress can’t appoint a special prosecutor, but it can create a bipartisan investigating committee or empower an independent, bipartisan commission. I think the commission approach is the most likely. It will be less inflammatory and more likely to get at the truth, quietly and over a longer period of time.

Q: How would you rate Trump’s lying if you compare it with the untruths from Russian and Chinese governments?

A: Trump’s relationship to the truth is similar to Putin’s. They both say things that are demonstrably untrue. With the Chinese government, there is a lot of “partisan spin,” but rarely does the government say things that can be easily contradicted. One way or another, an American president doesn’t want to be compared to Putin or other authoritarian regimes when it comes to credibility.

Q: What about the personal level: how do you feel about the situation?

A: I feel that it’s a tough time to be a reporter. You must have a thick skin and be willing to be bullied and threatened. Thus far, no harm has come to an American reporter, but many of my former colleagues have been subjected to online harassment and even phone calls at their homes. The old rules of fairness apply to our reporting, even if the norms of truthfulness are shifting. Reporters have to adjust if they want to maintain their integrity and shed light on the words and deeds of public officials.

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Pay no attention to the man behind the podium.