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Manson CHUM

With the advent of the new media era, the role of journalists has evolved from mere reporters to versatile media professionals. They have to be prepared for the impact of web traffic, the need for creativity, and the competition with algorithms. Manson CHUM, an alumnus of the Department of Chinese at Lingnan University, began his career as an Investigative Journalist and currently serves as the Senior Director of Digital Operations at HK01. He leverages his journalistic sensitivity to capture readers’ attention, enhance the platform’s reach, and aims to address issues of public concern for every citizen.

Enriching University Life with Unforgettable Chinese Classes 
Manson put Lingnan’s BA in Chinese in Band A of JUPAS and successfully enrolled. He mentioned the time at Lingnan have been the happiest time of his life. During those years, he thoroughly enjoyed three years of hostel life in Hall F, building close relationships with peers, tutors, and warden. He also expressed his appreciation for various professors. Under the guidance of professors such as Prof WANG Pu, Prof LEUNG Ping Kwan, Prof KWONG Yim Tze and Prof Joseph LAU, students particularly relished the academic atmosphere. Prof LEUNG would have students read aloud their own written novels in class, leading to moments of awkwardness and laughter when some of the novels were peculiar; Prof KWONG would teach poetry by singing, while Prof LAU punished late-coming students by requiring them to stand for the entire lesson. “Once, after staying up all night playing video games in hostel, I planned to skip a lesson and unexpectedly received a phone call from Prof WANG urging me to show up. I rushed to the classroom in embarrassment wearing slippers and discovered she had even called me out from the podium!”

Exposing Social Issues through Investigative News and Exploring the Potential of Online Media 
After graduating, Manson initially contemplated a career in teaching. However, due to the uncertainties brought about by education reform and SARS outbreak, he recognized the instability in the industry. This prompted him to explore opportunities in the media industry, eventually leading him to become a journalist at Ming Pao. He experienced in areas such as Breaking News, China News and Investigative News, where he uncovered various scandals involving government officials, like the famous news of Henry TONG. “The personal satisfaction is profound, especially when a local news gained international attention, and media outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, NHK reaching out to me in hopes of obtaining relevant information.”

However, Manson soon discovered that the investigative news that garnered social attention had little impact on increasing newspaper sales. Simultaneously, he noticed that some online media frequently plagiarized his articles, benefiting them with more readers while causing a reduction in the exposure of Ming Pao. What frustrated him the most was when a friend mentioned a news, assuming it originated from another media source, without realizing it was actually from Ming Pao and authored by Manson. He wryly remarked, "They published it at a very low cost by copying or rewriting the news, but I spent months or even a year preparing it.” Manson felt the rise and effectiveness of online media, while traditional printed media risked being easily surpassed. Consequently, he began advocating for the development of online platforms, recognizing the influence on information dissemination and commercial value. Initially, there was a significant surge in response after the launch of some exclusive news. However, faced with limited resources, he made the decision to seek a new path.

Transformation to Online Media: Emphasis on User Experience
Manson became aware of HK01, an emerging news media specializing in online platforms. Foreseeing the potential for more opportunities, he decided to join the team. Throughout the preparation stage, he played a significant role in cultivating an exceptional team, with an emphasis on training in conceptual thinking. One of the experimental tasks involved using articles from other newspapers and asking colleagues to rewrite the news headlines, thereby learning how to make them more compelling and align with algorithms and reader preferences. Furthermore, he provided training in article layout, optimizing the mobile browsing experience, ensuring that the length of paragraphs was appropriate and incorporating images to provide readers with a breather while reading lengthy articles. 
Compared to his previous role as a journalist, working in a team brought Manson a refreshing sense of fulfillment. He shared, "When you build a team and find the right people, not only do we meet expectations, but more refined ideas to be exchanged and make improvement. This drives the work progress and elevates the entire team." 

Learning Coexists with Algorithms in Rapid Development of Internet
Within his daily work, Manson closely collaborates with the editorial team, particularly focusing on data-related tasks and analyzing market demands. When major news events occur, such as the Government Budget, the digital operations team conducts analysis of past trends and prepares writing directions for the editorial team, identifying specific keywords. They aim to have independent articles introducing each keyword published within the golden time in order to achieve higher rankings on search engines. He noted that HK01’s exposure and awareness increased during the District Council Election and the Oscars, as the platform occupied the first page of Google Search. However, to maintain a diverse ecosystem, Google change the search rules and therefore, his team adjusted the strategy accordingly. Unlike traditional media, where people typically purchased only one newspaper a day in the past, internet users nowadays can access multiple platforms simultaneously. Thus, it is crucial for him to draw users’ attention and avoid being eliminated. By maintaining top positions in Google Search, the opportunity for users to revisit HK01 increases.

Securing User Time: Unveiling User Habits 
In the mobile era, Manson mentioned the future challenges of decreasing the rely on search engines and other social media but to encourage users directly access HK01 website or mobile application. Nevertheless, they still make effective use of other platforms to engage with audiences. He explained, "Teenagers may not have a strong interest in current news, so we utilize platforms like Instagram or YouTube to reach out to them by creating some special topics that appeal to the youth, with the aim of transforming them into our users.” He analyzed that if a person spends 4 hours on their phone daily, increasing their usage time on HK01 from 10 minutes to 40 minutes would already be considered a breakthrough. The long-term goal is not only to increase the number of users, but more importantly, to secure their time and attention. 
Manson discovered an interesting fact through backend analysis of the big data. It appears that content with greater depth and intellectualism, such as classical music, gender equality, or topics related to capitalism, tends to receive more likes and shares on social media. However, the click rate is actually quite low. This reveals aspects of human psychology and personal branding. On the other hand, gossip news often has higher views because people enjoy reading it, but they may not share it publicly. This data is important for digital operations as it allows editors to better understand and cater to the preferences of readers.

Encouraging Personal Growth for Juniors
In regards to newcomers in the media industry, Manson shared some valuable tips. "Aside from academic background, I emphasis on people’s attitude, interpersonal and social skills. New media emphasizes creativity, web traffic and dissemination. When faced with breaking news, it requires social and adaptability skills, which are not quite related to academic qualifications." Traditionally, the media industry was synonymous with a strong sense of social responsibility. However, in today’s landscape of uncertainties, the industry faces new challenges. Manson hopes to attract fresh talent—individuals who aspire to channel their creativity and create positive impacts within this dynamic field.