By Alexis See Tho
“It was an organized chaos,” recalled Mark Potts, a video editor at the Los Angeles Times, describing the scene in the newsroom when photographs, videos and Twitter posts poured in from the San Bernardino shootings two years ago.
Potts and his wife Hailey Branson-Potts, who is also a journalist for the L.A. Times shared the drama of covering a breaking news story of global significance with Tsinghua University’s multimedia reporting class. Branson-Potts and Potts were part of the Times team that received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, the top award in American journalism, for breaking news reporting.
“In the back of your head, you’re thinking, this is what I went to school for. You train and work your whole life so when you get into these situations, you don’t mess it up,” Potts added.
The prize-winning young journalists spoke to Global Business Journalism Program students in Professor Rick Dunham’s Multimedia Business Reporting course on March 1. Branson-Potts worked for Professor Dunham as an intern in the Washington bureau of the Houston Chronicle, where she covered the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, among other national stories.
The December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California, made international headlines when 14 people were killed an American man and his Pakistan-born wife. U.S. President Donald Trump has cited the shooting as a reason why he is seeking to restrict immigration to the United States.
Branson-Potts did live reporting on Twitter from the shooting scene, talking to the police and interviewing victims’ family members. And for days she stayed put in San Bernardino to get more information on the ground. It’s important to always be ready for moments like that she said.
“I have a ‘go-bag’ in my car,” Branson-Potts added, where she keeps a pair of jeans, comfortable shoes, make-up and supplies for at least a day.
But there are some areas that cannot be prepared ahead of time and only real-life experiences can be the teacher. Branson-Potts was answering a student’s questions whether news organizations train journalists on how to face situations such as the shooting.
“There’s no psychological training in newsrooms,” said Branson-Potts, who have worked and interned at news organizations such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the
She added that although her editor did ask how she was coping when she was on the ground in San Bernardino for days, the answer would always be “I’m fine.”
“You don’t want to be pulled out of the story,” Branson-Potts said.
Although she has worked for big names in America’s newspaper industry, Branson-Potts’ first taste of the world of journalism came when she was 15 when she worked on the printing press for her hometown newspaper, the Perry Daily Journal, one of Oklahoma’s smallest daily newspapers.
“They only printed 2,000 copies everyday, but it was real experience (for me),” Branson-Potts said. She advised students to find as many opportunities as they could to work in newsrooms.
“When we hire young people at our paper, we don’t care what grades they made at school, we don’t care what classes they took. We care about their resumés and the stories they produced as an intern,” she said.
For shooting and editing videos, Mark Potts’ greatest education came from watching bad movies during his student days while working at a movie theatre.
He added that a journalist’s work attitude is of utmost importance. “I approach things like there’s nothing below me,” he said, “I’ve done videos for subjects that secretly…I don’t want to cover. But I go in there and say, ‘I’m going to make a really good video. I’m going to cover this like I’ve covered the inauguration and a protest.’”
For both of them, they repeat the mantra: There’s no story that you’re too good for.
A new beginning. There’s nothing like the first day of class each semester. Meeting smart young students who are eager to learn. My 35 years as a reporter were exciting and eventful, but my time in the classroom is personally rewarding in a very different way.
My Global Business Journalism Program has trained students from China and 58 other nations of the world, from the U.S. to Vietnam, Russia to Ukraine, Zimbabwe to Great Britain, Israel to Iran, South Africa to South Korea. It is an exciting incubator for the next generation of journalism leaders around the globe.
Tuesday was the first class in my spring semester course, “Multimedia Business Reporting.” Thanks to Weiyue Cynthia Chen, one of the best students I’ve ever taught, for creating this photo gallery of the Global Business Journalism Program in action. (And congrats to Cynthia for getting accepted to Michigan State for her Ph.D. studies!)
For more information, check out the International Center for Journalists’ web link. The deadline for 2016-2017 applications has been extended until March 20. Scholarship deadline is March 10. You can contact me directly if you have any questions.
Photography captures reality.
Or does it?
Yes, a high-quality photograph that follows my 25 rules of photo composition can be a major asset for your multimedia journalism report.
But a photograph is not necessarily objective reality. Why?
As you edit the photograph, you are making editorial decisions: What part of the photo is most important or newsworthy? (That is different than editing decisions based on attractiveness.)
Here are two examples: One benign, one politically charged.
I took the first photo in my final day on the White House beat, Sept. 2, 2013. It shows House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi speaking to a group of reporters outside the West Wing entrance (also known as “the Stakeout”). The second photo is a wedding snapshot featuring Bill and Hillary Clinton at Donald Trump’s most recent wedding.
The Trump-Clinton wedding photo is fraught with political overtones. Some of Trump’s 2016 Republican presidential campaign rivals would like to remind voters of his bipartisan past and his longtime coziness with the Clintons. The unedited photo is incontrovertible evidence that the two families were close enough that they were all smiles together in the not-so-distant past.
By focusing on Donald and Hillary, the photo editor chooses to highlight the 2016 rivalry, without the spouses. It’s Hillary vs. Donald. All smiles then. All insults now.
By editing out the Trumps, this is an unexceptional photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton smiling for the cameras. Little news value.
By editing out Donald and Hillary, the photo focuses on Bill Clinton with his arm around an attractive woman. Her left hand touches his, prompting the viewer to reach her/his own conclusion about the body chemistry.
The takeaway lesson: When you are editing photos for content, think about how your cropping decisions change the meaning of the image in the eyes of your audience. Are you sending the message you want to send? Are you fairly reflecting reality? Are you being fair to the subjects in the photo?
If you are a professional photo editor, the answer to all of the questions should be yes.
Global Business Journalism students are improving the quality of journalism in China and around the worldPosted: July 12, 2015
I am so excited about the opportunities I have had in China to work with journalism students — both international and Chinese — and professional journalists to improve the caliber of reporting and writing in China, and to prepare us all for the Brave New World of journalism in the Digital Age. Here is a transcript of my speech at the July 10 commencement of the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication Global Business Journalism Program.
I am honored, on behalf of the faculty of the Global Business Journalism Program, to congratulate you on your successful completion of graduate studies at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication graduation.
It indeed has been an adventure – a voyage of discovery – for all of us. You represent the best of China and the best of the world.
Over the past eight years, students from more than 50 countries have studied together, worked together, gotten to know each other here in the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University. Ours is a vibrant tapestry of cultures and ideas. You have been exposed to new perspectives, whether they are from the minds of brilliant Chinese professors or veteran international journalists who have plied their trade at the highest levels in the United States and around the world. All of us have gained a better understanding of the rapidly changing world we are inheriting, the rise of China and the rapid transformation of its economy, the complicated dynamics of our interdependent global business world, the rapid transformation of our own world of journalism and the imperative to learn new multimedia and data skills to compete in the emerging journalism marketplace. You have been tested with rigor. You have passed the test. I am so proud of you.
Eight years ago, the Global Business Journalism Master’s Degree Program was just a dream, an idea conceived by some exceptionally creative souls at Tsinghua University in Beijing and at the International Center for Journalists in Washington. In just a few years, it has gained tremendous respect throughout China and around the world, attracting renowned international scholars and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists to work with our students and share their wisdom and their skills.
From the beginning, the GBJ program has been nurtured by the invaluable and incalculable support of Bloomberg News, with its unprecedented gift of ten of its priceless terminals, a series of guest lecturers and events, and a wonderful faculty member named Lee Miller.
And special thanks to my partner in the program, Dr. Hang Min, for her support, her wisdom and her guidance in making the GBJ program an invaluable resource for global journalism. Under her leadership, we have offered some of the most advanced classes in communication theory, as well as practical, advanced skills that will help our graduates succeed in their chosen field of endeavor, whether that be global business journalism, business, journalism, or something else somewhere on this globe.
By setting exacting standards and requiring rigorous coursework, the GBJ Program has helped to improve business journalism in China by training a new generation of highly qualified journalists specializing in economics and business. Our Chinese graduates now work at some of the most important media outlets in China, such as China Daily, Xinhua News Service, CCTV, and Radio Beijing, as well as at important international media outlets such as Bloomberg News.
That is a testament to the quality of our alumni. It also is a testament to the iron will of friends in the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to our success and our continuing growth. Dr. Shi Anbin has been a champion of our cause and a special mentor to me as a newly minted college professor. Thanks, Dean Shi, for everything you have done to make GBJ what it is today, and thanks to Dr. Jin Jianbin and other school officials for their support.
Of course, as all of us know in business journalism, you can’t have an entrepreneurial venture without some venture capital. I would like to thank our founding sponsor, Bank of America, for its steadfast commitment to the program since 2007.
I would like to close by quoting from my favorite philosopher, who happens to be my grandfather, Barrows Dunham. Despite a turbulent professional career that included an unwelcome appearance before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee and a spot on the American blacklist during the Red Scare Era of the 1950s, my grandfather, a distinguished philosophy professor and internationally acclaimed author, never lost his sense of patriotism or optimism.
“Even now,” he once wrote, “we ourselves are determining the future, not by knowing what it will be, but by conceiving what it can be.”
None of us know what the future will hold. But with the knowledge we have gained at Tsinghua, the support of our families – and, yes, the Global Business Journalism family – we can conceive that better future.
Congratulations to the Tsinghua Global Business Journalism graduating class. Good luck to all of you. Thank you.
Every year, the Pulitzer Prizes celebrate some of the world’s best journalism. Just hours after the 2015 Pulitzer winners were announced, my Global Business Journalism Program was fortunate to play host to a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for photography. Larry C. Price, a University of Texas graduate who won the Pulitzer while working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Philadelphia Inquirer, dazzled my Multimedia Reporting and Data Journalism students with tales from his latest project, a multi-year investigation into the use of child labor in gold mining. His work — entitled “Tarnished” — was published in eBook form by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.
Here are ten tips I culled from Larry’s lectures and the subsequent Q-and-A period. They are not a definitive list of “ten top tips.” They are just a collection of tips that I hope will be useful as you attempt to improve your photographic skills.
1. Always remember that you’re a storyteller.
Whatever publishing platform you’re on, and whatever visual medium you’re using, journalism is always about one thing. “It’s all about the stories,” Larry says. “Stories are as old as language. They’re everywhere. And journalism tells them.”
2. Look for something new — or a new take on an old image.
“Find something that hasn’t been done,” Larry says. “Or find a different spin on it.”
He says colleagues have sometimes discouraged him from shooting certain images, saying, “it’s been done.”
“My response is, ‘I haven’t done it,'” he says. “If somebody’s told the story, tell it differently.”
His example: a recent trip to Paris and a photo shoot at the Eiffel Tower.
3. Get up early. Stay late.
Larry doesn’t use artificial lighting. As a result, he is looking for the best natural light available. “If you want your multimedia productions to look good, shoot them early in the morning or a few minutes before sunset,” he says.
That means long days of work and short nights of sleep.
4. Get close.
Every photographer has her or his own signature. For Larry, it’s close-ups. “I love tight facial portraits,” he said. “Force yourself to get close.”
Another favorite subject for his close-ups: “Hands and feet. That’s what it’s all about.”
5. Get personal.
To make a subject comfortable with you — especially if you are going to shove your camera into their face — is to develop a personal relationship with them. “I spend a lot of time getting rapport established before I take out a camera,” Larry says. “I develop that rapport so it doesn’t get uncomfortable to your subject.”
Of course, you can’t always do this when news is breaking, but it can help improve your image if you have a bit of time to prepare.
6. Keep shooting.
“When I’m in the field, it’s constant activity,” Larry says. “Digital allows you to shoot, review, delete a lot.” Don’t let your guard down when you’re on duty: You never know when the next great photo opportunity might come. “You can’t ever relax,” he says. “It’s a never-ending cycle of feeling guilty.”
On his most recent trip to Burkina Faso, Larry returned with 37,000 frames. “I always have a lot of failures,” he notes. “I shoot a lot of pictures.”
7. Minimize your vertical shots.
Horizontal photographs work best on digital platforms, whether that’s a mobile device or a computer. And if you’re taking video, make sure it’s horizontal. “Never shoot vertical video,” warns Larry. “It’s useless. Half your space is wasted.” He rarely takes vertical stills, except for portraits. But he likes the square format popularized by Instagram. “Square is a very good portrait format — a little more artsy,” he says.
8. Stay natural.
Great photographers don’t cheat with editing programs that alter reality. “I don’t do a lot of Photoshop with my pictures,” he said. “I don’t exaggerate the colors or anything.”
9. Take good notes.
You need to have the spelling of names, correct ages and the locations of cities or villages. Larry always uses two notebooks. He also records the GPS coordinates of everything.
10. One old-fashioned photo composition rule.
“Don’t ever put people in the middle of the frame,” he says.
Why you should join the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua — or recommend it to a friendPosted: December 29, 2014
To all of my journalism friends around the world: I invite you to spread the good word about the good work we are doing here at Tsinghua. We’re looking to recruit an exceptional class of graduate students for the upcoming school year and to prove to any skeptics that you can have a world-class journalism program in China. Here’s the pitch. Feel free to share. Comments and questions are welcome.
Are you interested in becoming an expert on the world’s fastest-growing economy?
Do you want to study Asia Pacific business development and report that to the world?
Do you want to have an amazing educational and personal experience in a dynamic country?
Do you want to learn how to share your stories with audiences via print, audio, video and digital media?
Please join in us in the Global Business Journalism Master’s Degree Program at Tsinghua University in China!
2015 Enrollment Instructions
for M.A. in Global Business Journalism
at the School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
With China playing a central role in the global economy, there is a soaring demand for trained professionals who can understand the exciting, complicated development of the world’s fastest-growing economy – and can explain it – clearly and in depth — to audiences in China and around the world.
Tsinghua University Master of Arts degree in Global Business Journalism is designed to meet that growing need. The program offers international students the opportunity to master the fine points of business, finance and economics in China. All courses are taught in English — the international language of business — by internationally renowned scholars and accomplished journalists with extensive global experience. The program’s facilities rival those of other leading journalism schools worldwide. The news lab has the largest number of Bloomberg terminals of any college in the world.
Business journalism is one of the fastest growing areas of employment opportunities in the industry today. News audiences are eager to learn about the world of business, while media departments expect PR professionals to understand and analyze the complexities of business issues.
Tsinghua’s Master of Global Business Journalism Program is designed to offer you the opportunity to meet these growing needs and, at the same time, master the fine points of economics, finance and business in China and the world. We welcome you to join in us!
The first English-language graduate business journalism program on the Chinese mainland, created in partnership with the International Center for Journalists, it has sent 171 graduates to news outlets in China and globally over its first seven years.
Launched in 2007, the GBJ program has already been recognized by students and recruiters alike as a world-class program. Academe, the world’s leading journal on higher education, featured a cluster of articles on the program in February 2008. Only the most talented applicants from around the world are accepted, and the student body is culturally and professionally diverse. The full-time program spans two years of intense, fast-paced, rewarding study. Those who complete it successfully emerge with valuable connections, a rich array of opportunities and the business and journalism skills to capitalize on them. It is a two-year experience that will last a lifetime.
The program aims to bring business journalism in China in line with top international reporting standards. The Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication has a long history of cooperation with major international media and financial-information organizations, and visiting scholars have come from outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Business Week, The New York Times, Financial Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
GBJ offers an array of specialized courses that are at the forefront of global business journalism. Students can learn about international accounting standards, multimedia journalism, data mining, complex financial derivatives, journalism ethics, advanced feature writing techniques and the management of media organizations – knowledge that is transferable to other economies and other professions. At the same time, they gain a deeper knowledge of the Chinese language and economy.
The GBJ program benefits from other academic resources on the Tsinghua campus, including its prestigious School of Economics and Management, as well many Chinese and global media and technology companies in Beijing. Internships, field trips and recruiter visits are integral parts of the program.
GBJ students have opportunities to attend conferences on new media, economic development and other business topics. They benefit from meetings and discussions with guest speakers, including top editors and reporters from leading Chinese and Western news outlets and international business executives. The GBJ has a growing network of smart, sophisticated reporters, editors and public relations professionals who can enhance the world’s understanding of economic and corporate developments in China and globally.
- Program Courses
|Introduction to Mass Communications and Society in Contemporary China|
|Media Research Methods|
|English Financial News Reporting and Writing|
|Multimedia Business Reporting|
|Global Business Journalism (advanced)|
|Economics and Accounting Basics for Journalists|
|Business Data Mining and Analysis|
|Opinion and News Commentary|
|Hot topics in the Global Economy|
|Corporate Strategies, Case Studies of Chinese and Global Companies|
|Personal Finance Reporting|
|Workshop on Film and TV Production|
|Theory and Practice of Public Diplomacy|
|Public Relations: An Introduction|
|Pro-Seminar for Master Candidates in Global Business Journalism|
|Literature Review and Thesis Proposal|
- Qualification of Applicants
Applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree in related fields and certificate for English proficiency.
- Application Documents
1) The completed Foreigner’s Application Form for Admission to Graduate Programs of Tsinghua University with a 2-inch recent photo, signed by the applicant;
2) Statement of Purpose and resume;
3) The original or the notarial degree certificate or proof of education at an academic institution (you need to submit an original or notarial degree certificate after it was awarded) and an academic transcript. The degree certificate and academic transcript must be officially sealed.
4) Two academic recommendation letters from scholars of associate professorship or higher. They must show referee’s phone number and email address on the letter.
5) For non-English speaking students, please provide English level certificates. e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.
6) A copy of your passport page with personal information (personal and ordinary passport);
7) The completed Application Form for Tsinghua University Scholarship (if applicable, original);
8) A non-refundable application fee of RMB600.
The certificates provided should be the original documents in Chinese or in English, otherwise notarial translations in Chinese or English are required. None of the above application documents will be returned.
- Application Procedure
Step 1: Online Application
Complete Online Application on the website of the Foreign Student Affairs Office, Tsinghua University
(http://www.is.tsinghua.edu.cn/EN/online-application/instruction.html). Print and sign the Application Form produced by the system after the application status changes to “verified.”
Step 2: Documents Submission
Submit the application documents listed above to the address indicated below by post mail or in person.
Step 3：Application Fee Payment
There are two ways to pay application fee:
1 . Pay online using a credit card;
After your online application form is verified or the materials are received by Tsinghua University, the staff will make you the online payment draft, and at the same time, an email will be automatically sent out to remind you to pay the application fee via the online application system.
2 . Pay in cash at the Foreign Student Affairs Office (Room 120, Zijing Building 22) on the campus of Tsinghua University.
- Application Deadline
November 1, 2014 — March 20, 2015
Both the Online Application and a complete set of Application documents should be completed and the package should be received by March 20, 2015.
- Tuition and Scholarship
Tuition：Program tuition fee is RMB39000/year.
Accidental Injury and Hospitalization Insurance: RMB 600/year.
Please visit http://is.tsinghua.edu.cn for more information about scholarships.
- Program Website：
For more information about the program, please visit the GBJ website at:
- Application Website:
For an application, please visit the Application Website at:
Ms. Olivia Xiaoyu Zhou
Room 302, Omnicom Building,
School of Journalism and Communication
Beijing 100084, P. R. China
Tel: +86 10 6279 6842
Fax: +86 10 6277 1410