Pulitzer winners inspire HKBU students

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Telling the truth and making change are the unified message of seven Pulitzer Prize winners to hundreds of Communication and Journalism students of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) during the 7th Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop (PPWW)opening ceremonies and public forum held on Oct. 25, 2016 at Shaw Campus’ WLB103 Conference Hall.

The theme for this year’s workshop is Bearing Witnesses: The Reporting of Human Triumphs and Failings.

Robin McDowell, Esther Htusan, George Rodrigue, Prof. William Snyder, Susan Snyder, Kristen Graham, and Ben Solomon, who all received Pulitzer Prizes in different categories, encouraged the students to work hard and expose inequality and abuses and make positive impression to intended audiences.

“Journalism is a serious profession that you have potentially profound impact on the lives of the people by telling the truth, or by failing to tell the truth,” explained Rodrigue who twice won the Pulitzer for his reports on discrimination in government – subsidized housing in 1986, and in 1994 for uncovering abuses against women.

“Maybe someone sitting in this audience someday will win the Pulitzer. All you have to do is to have the desire to make a difference and work really hard to expose injustices and to tell the stories of everyday people,” added Graham who, together with Susan, won the 2012 Public Service Award for their report on violence in schools.

McDowell and Htusan won the 2016 Pulitzer for Public Service for their investigative report on labor malpractices in the seas of Southeast Asia which led to justice and reforms. William has won the Pulitzer four times since 1989 for photography and explanatory journalism. Solomon, who works for the New York Times, bagged the 2015 International Reporting award for their stories on Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Students and faculty members were given the chance to interact with the speakers after the opening ceremonies. When asked about their personal safety and preparations before covering stories, the winners willingly shared their experiences to the audience.

“To be a good journalist, you have to be dedicated. You have to be sympathetic to people, and that is very important,” said Htusan.

The seven guests will stay in HKBU for the next three days and deliver talks and lectures as part of the biennial PPWW. The event is organized by HKBU’s School of Communication and this year’s workshop is sponsored by HKBU Strategic Development Fund. It aims to broaden the vision of journalists and enhance the quality of journalism education in Hong Kong and Greater China region.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the highest accolade bestowed on journalists in United States. Named after Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian – American journalist and publisher, the award covers major fields of journalism. It is celebrating its centennial this year.

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