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Collard greens and Vegemite, it’s a cultural thing


I don’t know much about golf, but when Australian Adam Scott won the US Masters in 2013, I did know that he would bear the heavy cultural burden of choosing the menu for the following year’s Masters Champions Dinner.

Way back in 1997, Fuzzy Zoeller earned his own special place in the annals of golfing history by suggesting that then first-time Masters champion Tiger Woods would be putting fried chicken and collard greens on the menu.

I had to get my dad Jack Spackman to explain that one. I was familiar with fried chicken but I’d never heard of collard greens. Jack was living in California by then, so was more up to speed on matters of American culture. As in most things for that nation, it turned on the issue of race. Continue reading

Silly streak seals pressman’s fate at Dragon Boat race


There was even more colour and movement than usual at Hong Kong’s premier dragon boat races when the 1974 craze for running through a public place naked reached the shores of Stanley. They called it the Streak. Your Girl Reporter was on the scene. “Don’t look, Sally!” But it was too late. I’d already been mooned.  Continue reading

My secret life of crime revealed


It will shock you, I know, to learn that Your Girl Reporter is not averse to the occasional act of thievery. Every so often I am reminded of past misdeeds which trouble my conscience to greater and lesser degree. The recent publication of a new book by journalist, author and artist Derek Maitland was one such reminder.

The Fatal Line documents the biggest public enquiry ever held into Australia’s commercial broadcasting industry from the ringside perspective of Maitland and his fellow whistleblower at Sydney’s TCN Channel Nine.

I knew Maitland as one of the noisy, amorphous group of Hong Kong journalists on whose fringe I dwelt in those years of childhood when you don’t care what people do for a living. So it was a surprise years later to see his name on a bookshelf in England. And it gives me enormous joy that accuracy enables me to begin my tale of crime and misdeed with the following observation:

It was a dark and stormy night. Continue reading

A dangerous little question: Why shouldn’t Hong Kong people decide?


Why shouldn’t Hong Kong people decide what happens to Hong Kong? It’s a simple question with a straightforward and, I fear, unchanging answer – China won’t tolerate it. The received wisdom was that Hong Kong people weren’t interested in democracy, they just wanted to get on with making money untroubled by questions of politics, so why even ask the question.

Unfortunately for the received wisdom, every time the question was asked – no matter how obliquely – it was answered quite differently by the people most closely affected.

Continue reading

Lessons from an Old School master


I was 17 years old and filling time on the Big Baxter’s monthly computer magazine while I decided what to do with my life. I wasn’t expecting it to be hard work. I certainly wasn’t expecting any great responsibility. I was a teenager being given a gentle leg-up by her indulgent dad. Then he got sick just before press day and left me holding the production baby. Suddenly I was in charge of the whole thing.  Continue reading

Collard greens and Vegemite, it’s a cultural thing


I don’t know much about golf, but when Adam Scott won the US Masters in 2013 I did know that he would have the honour of choosing the menu for the following year’s Champions Dinner. A cultural minefield, Your Girl Reporter warned – look what happened when the Big Baxter suggested Vegemite to celebrate Australia’s victory in the Americas Cup.

Continue reading

To break an em-rule on a wheel


Tight budgets and primitive equipment didn’t stop Computer-Asia reporting on the latest technology, but they made for a lot more fun and, arguably, a better product. Continue reading

Who’s your reader – Genius or Idiot?


What makes a journalist? A lot of people – inside and outside the profession – are asking that question. If you think it takes a genius, think again. Good journalists have a representative of their audience in mind who informs every step of their work. My background’s print, so it’s natural for me to refer to a reader. Who’s your reader, a genius or an idiot? Continue reading

Books I haven’t read


‘Tis the season for the giving and receiving of books, a tradition set early in the Baxter household where I could be certain that Santa would deposit a good holiday read in my stocking. But some of my best remembered are books I haven’t read.  Continue reading

Who broke the news and can we fix it?


The bell is tolling for traditional journalism. The behemoths of yesteryear are trying to revitalise their business model but nothing seems to be working. Continue reading

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From the vault