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“The life of a journalist is poor, nasty, brutish and short. So is his style,” writes humourist Stella Gibbons.
I grew up surrounded by journalists and always, for better or worse, keenly felt the drum beat of the news agenda. I was born in Budapest as the Iron Curtain crumbled, later relocating to the U.K., and then Germany. A fascination with writing under totalitarianism saw me take up a BA in German and Czech at the University of Oxford. I produced journalism of my own, and got an award for it. I'm a firm believer that there are many things you just can't understand having only read about them. China’s (seemingly) unstoppable rise has always fascinated me, so after completing my degree I moved to a third-tier city in the Pearl River Delta. I later moved to Beijing and covered the city’s vagaries for an expat magazine. I then earned a spot on the U.K.’s most prestigious Newspaper Journalism MA. After that, Hong Kong called.
Hong Kong My experience as a reporter at the South China Morning Post was a whirlwind. My portfolio from that time covers a gamut of stories, from quick turn around news articles and features for web and print, to long form analysis, multimedia packages, and front page exclusives. A versatile journalist who defies pigeon holes, I’ve covered a foster care system in crisis, dug into the cruelties of puppy mills (and the socioeconomic forces that drive the industry), lost sleep over electronic waste dumps, covered protests, covered the geopolitics of salmon, got tattooed in the name of journalism, received a nice email from Frank Dikkötter, interviewed a haunted doll, discovered that writing about macroeconomics is basically just describing some things going up as other things go down, and, (for any death metal fans out there) interviewed Michael Amott of Carcass/ Arch Enemy fame.
Culture After a couple of years on the SCMP news grind, I went solo and honed my focus on Asian art and culture, writing essays and interview features for digital and print magazines, alongside art exhibit catalogues. Highlights included interviewing two personal heroes: historian Jung Chang and critic Ackbar Abbas. I also got to know the wonderful artist renegadeKacey Wong, writing the text accompanying an art show dedicated to his one-eyed cat and having a dance with his buddy Perri Dino, Hong Kong's generous and kind protest painter. I will add that I am proud to have met Hong Kong's legendary Frog King and survived a trip to his madcap studio in Yuen Long, where he plays with flamethrowers in a tiny shack brimming with many flammable things. My fondest memory is meeting the venerable painter Chu Hing Wah, who depicts the city's beauty with as much verve as he alchemised his own melancholy. I developed a deep understanding of Hong Kong's unrivaled role in the innovations of the Mao-disapproved ink art tradition, which in turn had played an under-recognised role in influencing abstract art movements in the "Western" world. I was lucky to earn a scholarship on art criticism at Tai Kwun museum, and took pains to apply those learnings to my work. "In a city that loves the ‘business of art’ , it was always a pleasure to read her thoroughly researched perspective on the local Hong Kong arts and culture," said one of my readers.
Media I relocated to Berlin in 2019, looking to recuperate after years of hustling that had seen me accrue bylines in the likes of CNN, The Independent and other local and international outlets, and briefly take up the role of Managing Editor at The Hong Kong Free Press, a plucky watchdog that was definitely not for the faint of heart. Witnessing Hong Kong's turmoil (and how the journalism world was forced to react to it) gave me a lot to think about in terms of the role fear plays in our decision-making. That's a preoccupation that has fueled my most recent foray into athleticism and mixed martial arts and has seen me take on a media fellowship with the European Journalism Observatory while building a niche in the very meta subject area that is writing journalism about journalism.
Around that time, I also got interested in tech. But that's a story for my comms page.