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Journalism in Asia

Journalism in Asia

Victor Mallet, 18 September 2024 14.00 BST
At the Royal Astronomical Society and online
From our series: Freedom of Expression, Knowledge and State Authority in Asia


Asia is home to a range of well-known and internationally consumed media and news sources including the South China Morning Post, Aljazeera, The Times of India, The Straits Times, the largest circulated newspapers in the world – Yomiuri Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun (with a print circulation of 9.7 million and 7.5 million respectively) and many others. In addition, every major international news agency has a presence across Asia with journalists on the ground to cover all the latest developments.

However, despite the huge number of journalists and media organisations across Asia, many Asian countries lack the professional standards and institutions necessary to support a strong, resilient and impartial media environment. In particular, a combination of cultural, social, and political factors makes it difficult to practice journalism in most of the region. Generally speaking, Asian countries offer journalists inhospitable working environments that make it difficult for them to provide robust journalism and commentary on the powerful. According to Freedom House, only Japan, Papua New Guinea, and Taiwan could be said to enjoy a ‘free’ press as of 2017. Similarly, four of the three bottom-ranked countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index were Asian countries (China, North Korea, and Turkmenistan).

As well as official scrutiny, journalists have to face the complexities of reporting on a wide range of fast paced events in myriad geopolitical, environmental and social climates. This lecture aims to explore what it’s like to be a journalist in Asia, the challenges journalists face and the realities of working in a variety of Asian contexts.

Victor Mallet is an author, journalist and commentator who has travelled and worked for more than three decades in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has been the Paris bureau chief and Asia editor for the Financial Times and is currently the senior editor on the FT’s world desk.

In India, he was twice awarded the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism as a foreign correspondent, first for a 2012 feature about the rise of Narendra Modi and later for a 2015 magazine cover story about the threats to the River Ganges. In Hong Kong, he twice won the Society of Publishers in Asia award for opinion writing.

His highly praised book on the south-east Asian industrial revolution and the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, The Trouble with Tigers: the Rise and Fall of South East Asia, was first published in 1999. His latest book about the Ganges, River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and Modern India, was published in 2017.

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