SAC Journalism Students Get Up-Close at Hong Kong Protests

November 27, 2019

Russell Guerrero - Strategic Communications Coordinator

SAC journalism and mass communication students were given an inside look at the protest movement that has roiled Hong Kong this year from a news photographer covering the drama.

Paul Yeung, a freelance photographer for Bloomberg News, shared more than 100 of his pictures from the frontline of the demonstrations and talked with students in News Photo I, Media Writing, and two communications courses about covering the protests.

Using Skype, Yeung shared a slide show featuring protestors on Hong Kong streets and malls clashing with police. In some images, protestors wearing masks are shown picking up cannisters of tear gas and throwing them back at police in riot gear. Several images showed violent fistfights between protestors and police. One photo showed young high school students, looking anxious, holding hands and forming a chain next to a busy street.

Yeung has been covering the demonstrations since protesters first took to the streets earlier in 2019 to oppose an extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government. The conflict has continued into November with police confronting demonstrators at local university campuses.

Yeung told students he has had to take extra precautions when shooting photos at the protests. He said he wore a gas mask to avoid the tear gas fired by the police and a helmet to protect himself from getting hit by tear gas cannisters and rubber bullets. He started wearing a bright green vest with the word PRESS written on the back to identify himself to police and protestors, although he said lately the police have been targeting the press as well as demonstrators.

Dr. Yuk-kwong Edmond Lo, journalism professor in the photography program, is a former teacher and co-worker of Yeung and invited him to speak to SAC students. Lo said the video conference gave students a rare look into covering a major international story.

“I was hoping my photojournalism students could learn from this first-hand experience to know what they need to photograph an intense conflicting and dangerous situation, both technically and mentally,” he said. “Also, when situations like this, where contradicting political stances and human life are concerned, what kind of ethical decisions a photojournalist should make.”

“I think it is a good chance to see journalism outside of not only the classroom but the country and see how they operate in a different culture with different problems,” said Sergio Medina, a SAC student in News Photography I. “It shows the importance of journalism because we see the severity of what is going on in Hong Kong. And it makes you feel for the people and relate to their problem.”