Hong Kong and Janus: Looking backward and forward

Hong Kong by night (photo by Andrew McIntyre)

After experiencing the marvel that is the Hong Kong transportation system, I never dreamed Hong Kong transit would have or could have gotten any more efficient during my short stay in town. 

Trains rolling into stations literally seconds after the tracks have been vacated (I timed it once–33 seconds from the time one train departed to the time another arrived).  Ingenius MTR station layout.  Quite comfortable and efficient double-decker busses.

But I was wrong. 

The system is even more user friendly than it was two months ago, with some taxis now accepting Visa and Octopus (look for the wings atop special cars).  Such is the fluid nature of Hong Kong.

I’ll take this moment to look back–Janus would be proud–across two months of media observations in this city that just can’t seem to sit still.

Public relations:

Public relations houses, not suprisingly, hold great sway in Hong Kong.  It is standard for PR folks to ask media for business cards, and often an electronic copy of the conference press release reaches my inbox before I do.  Can anyone say fast moving?

Media relations:

In a race pitting public relations with media relations, the former would almost certainly cross the finish line first.  That is not to say that media relations folks are slow, but rather that they don’t operate at the cheetah-like pace set by public relations.  Response time for comments from media relations folks greatly varies, based on the time it takes to get in touch with the person who can or will comment.

Requests for interviews:

I’ve had the vast majority of my requests for interviews granted.  The folks I’ve wanted to interview have been keen to speak with me, which shows that folks realize the influence the media have in this city.

Requests for information:

This one is a bit of a wildcard, as is likely the case just about anywhere one practices journalism.  The critical factor is knowing with whom to speak.  Initial phone calls often simply lead to alternate contact people, and working one’s way through a web of folks to the central person who is knowledgable and can share his or her information is paramount.

Citizen reporting:

Sure, Steve Jobs and the iPhone have helped millions to become citizen reporters.  Don’t get me wrong–on-the-spot photos are important.  But I still to this day get excited when I receive a citizen email detailing something curious happening around the city.  Judging by the relatively high number of such emails I saw over the summer, I believe Hong Kong citizens are quite interested in contributing stories to the media.


So as I turn to the other side of Janus, I have to wonder what trick Hong Kong next has up its sleeve. Carmageddon in Los Angeles averted.  All systems go in Hong Kong.  Don’t blink, or you might miss the next new Hong Kong fad.  Stay tuned.

About Andrew McIntyre

Andrew McIntyre is Deputy Editor for U.S.-China Today. He received a B.A. (Music) from Emory University and an M.M. (Music Theory) from University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has previously taught at Tangshan Oriental Bilingual School, Communication University of China, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. He is currently a Dean’s Scholar, Teaching Assistant, and M.A. student (Print Journalism) at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
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