Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Posts Tagged ‘BAMMJ

A very thorough review of my university journalism degree course

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I did an undergraduate degree at Bournemouth University, where I studied from 2009-2012, leaving with a B.A in Multimedia Journalism.

Bournemouth University has one of the UK’s best media schools, and its journalism course is one of the top three in the country. I place City University’s journalism degree at the top simply because it’s in London and has a closer connection to the industry; enjoying the best speakers, guest lecturers and professional links. Rounding out the top three is the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), whose journalism course is one of the most venerable in the country.

I did not go to City University because at the time they did not do just a journalism degree, it was Journalism with History, and because Bournemouth Uni happens to be by the sea and didn’t look as depressing a location as Preston, where UCLAN is situated.

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Is It Worth Doing Journalism Work Experience?

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For my degree in multimedia journalism, I was required to do during the duration of my course a minimum of 4 weeks of work experience. My first ever bout of journalism work experience came earlier though, when I was 17 and still at college doing my A-levels.

At the time I was unsure of what I should do at university – I was good at English and good at writing. Although creative writing interested, I knew deep down that I was incapable of fiction and journalism took on more appeal.

At The Guardian offices, on work experience,  September, 2012.

At The Guardian offices, on work experience, September, 2012.

So I asked a staff member at college to help me arrange work experience with my local newspaper, The Hastings Observer. I spent a week at the newspaper and managed to gain three bylines. Two lessons stick out from that week: 1. That you could source a story from the Yellow Pages (remember those?) – a lesson not that useful now but opened up my awareness of how stories and sources can be located & 2. How powerful use of language can be and how even a slight variation in word choice can influence readers.

After that week ended I grew more attached to journalism and its raggedy, amateur art.

When it came time to select courses and universities, my stepfather and I went on a tour of the different journalism degrees. Some presentations were much better than others. Some were downright off-putting. It came down to two choices: City University in London and Bournemouth University. At the time City Uni did not do only a journalism BA. It was History with Journalism. Bournemouth Uni appealed as it taught multimedia journalism which was NCTJ approved and because it was by the sea.

Anyway, I deferred for a year, taking a gap year which eventually turned into two. I started my course at age 20.

A list of media work experience/internships that I did from 2009-2012:

  • The Brighton Argus
  • Splash News
  • The Press Association
  • Catch22
  • The Guardian
  • The Beijinger

The Press Association (video department) was a great experience as I got the opportunity to interview Boris Johnson (mayor of London) and MPs, participate in a press scrum and attend a beer festival. The UK’s national news agency has a great scheme that if I had pushed more, perhaps I could have got on to, but it would have required a three year commitment or thereabouts.

The Guardian work experience was offered to me by the editor as I had written a couple of articles for her previously (unpaid) and so they gave me a week. It was a dream to enter The Guardian’s gleaming offices near King’s Cross, London and I saw a couple of journalists I’ve long admired.

It is very much worth doing work experience, but in my opinion it is not worth doing it overmuch. You can also get lucky. A few coursemates of mine got jobs from them, and one of them is now editor at a major publication. It can also be helpful to gain contacts as it can make it easier to pitch later on. An acquaintance here in Beijing occasionally writes for Esquire (UK) as he once interned for them.

It will really help your time on your internship if you can pitch story ideas. Do not be afraid to suggest ideas to your editor. It shows initiative, charm and power. Anyone who has a store of good ideas is a source of power for a creative outlet. You will be seen in a much better light if you have the confidence to pitch and the boldness to articulate them. You lose nothing. Even if your ideas are not accepted, do not lose hope, it only takes one to strike for you to be given an opportunity.

It helps if the staff like you too. I have found in my experience that if the staff take a shine to you, they will overlook any deficiencies or weaknesses you may have simply because they like having you around in the office. Do not underestimate how important this is. Having good social skills is a skill and intelligence in itself. And those who possess it have an equally legitimate skill as those good with numbers or a facility for study.


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Lu-Hai Liang is a multimedia journalist and writer.


Twitter: @LuHai_Liang


Short bio 

Lu-Hai Liang is a British-Chinese journalist and writer. He was based in Beijing for six years. He has been published widely in international media. 

These include The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Foreign Policy, Wired, The Atlantic, New Statesman, Aljazeera, Daily Telegraph, Dazed, Eurogamer, The Independent, and Nikkei Asian Review, among others. 



Longer bio

Liang was born in Guilin, China, and was moved to the United Kingdom aged five, and grew up in the seaside town of Hastings in southeast England. 

Sorry, I’m going to switch to first-person.

I completed a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University in 2012. Following a summer working as a camera assistant for OBS at the London 2012 Olympic Games, I decided to move to Beijing.

My first job in the Chinese capital was listings editor at the magazine, The Beijinger, promoted from paid intern. After a summer break at home in England, I returned to Beijing in autumn 2013 and this blog was born, tracking my life and career as a journalist in Beijing. 

I was based in Beijing from 2012 to 2018.

These six years were a heady, adventurous, difficult, lonely, rewarding, thrilling, impactful yet oddly unsatisfying time, like a tempestuous love affair. 

I have visited Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea. And I often wrote reports and features about my host countries.   

From 2019 to September 2020, I was a roving, nomadic, freelance journalist endlessly criss-crossing southeast and east Asia, until the pandemic decided to end it.   

These days I am trying to become a published author and I am a cohort of the 2021 HarperCollins author academy. 


(Samples of my work)

The psychology behind ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ 

Myanmar monks feel the pressure of tourism 

Is North Korea on your tourism bucket list?

Inside the weird world of Chinese romance video games

Where exactly are my British Chinese role models?

Prada in Pyongyang: North Korea’s new look

It’s not Communism holding China’s youth back. It’s their parents. 

I chose to become a migrant, and learned to be a freelancer 

Meet Colin Huang, who just stepped down as CEO of $100 billion Pinduoduo

Apple and Samsung duke it out in South Korea

The surprising place some Korean women are going for a career boost 

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

October 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Features

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