Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Social, Writing

Online Concierge Service Helps Men Find Gifts for Their Partners

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-16-08-19

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition in Sept. 2014.

Dating is a serious business in Hong Kong. In an era of online dating and mobile matchmaking apps, every day thousands of single men and women in the city are busy searching for prospective partners through dating services. But what about those who have found true love and want to keep hold of it?

Enter the Butlur – an online gift-giving concierge service that describes itself as “helping discerning men delight women who have everything”.

Continue reading

Standard
FBL-WC-2014-KOR-RUS-FANS
Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Social, Writing

Have You Ever Wondered Why East Asians Spontaneously Make V-Signs in Photos?

Originally published on TIME.com

Spend a few minutes browsing social media, or watch groups of travelers posing in front of a popular tourist attraction, and you’re bound to come across it: attractive young Asians flashing smiles and making the V-for-Victory sign (or peace sign). The raised index and middle fingers, with palm facing outward, are as much a part of Asian portraiture as saying cheese is to English speakers. But why?

To non-Asians, the gesture seems so intrinsically woven into the popular culture of Beijing, Osaka or Taipei as to make it seem that it was forever thus — but, in fact, its earliest origins date back no further than the late 1960s, and the gesture didn’t really find widespread acceptance until the late 1980s.

Some say it began with Janet Lynn. The American figure skater was favored to take home gold in the 1972 Olympics in Japan. But the 18-year-old’s dream came crashing down when she fell during her performance. The gold medal was gone. She knew it, and Japan knew it.

But instead of grimacing, the shaggy-haired blonde simply smiled. Lynn’s behavior ran charmingly counter to the Japanese norm of saving face, and in doing so earned her legions of Japanese fans.

“They could not understand how I could smile knowing that I could not win anything,” said Lynn, who eventually went home with a bronze, in a telephone interview. “I couldn’t go anywhere the next day without mobs of people. It was like I was a rock star, people giving me things, trying to shake my hands.” Continue reading

Standard
(Anding District, Gansu Province, CHINA) - Students in class in a school that parents believe was hit by a food poisoning outbreak.  ©Stephanie Burnett
Digital, Journalist, Multi-media, Online, Reporting, Uncategorized, Writing

In China, suspected school food poisoning case swept under the rug

A  version of this story was published by Journalists for Transparency for a special series titled ‘SPOILED: Corruption from Farm to Table’.

LANZHOU, China—There were so many students in the hospital that morning that Li had trouble finding her own daughter.

“They put four to five children to a single bed. They just didn’t have enough beds to fit all of them,” says Li, who requested only her surname be used.

Her second-grade daughter was one of 244 primary school students in the central Chinese province of Gansu that fell ill in April 2013 after eating a government-subsidized school breakfast. The students, from five different schools in Gansu’s poor, remote Anding District, were stricken with severe diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains.

Continue reading

Standard

Honey Grace Minaves follows a herd of hundreds of Filipina women, all navigating their way through a maze of back alleyways in Hong Kong’s Central district. Eventually they turn into the narrow lobby of an unmarked building, where Honey Grace patiently waits her turn to squeeze into one of the small elevators.

A dozen pint-sized Filipinas cram into the lift that would be a tight fit for five grown men. The elevator ascends past floor after floor, each with a distinct theme: shoe warehouses, consignment shops, beauty pageant rehearsals, and – for Honey Grace – a hair salon.

“I don’t have a boyfriend, that’s why I cut my hair,” says the raven-haired woman as her hair is styled.  “I cut my hair so that I can find someone.”

Honey Grace is one of tens of thousands of Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong who pamper themselves in hopes of finding love on Sundays – the one day of the week when they are usually off.

But one day a week is not enough time for romance, and the women are resorting to online dating sites to be courted.

Continue reading

Journalist, Online, Social, Writing

What we can learn from Venezuela and Kenya

It didn’t come as a surprise.

This year’s elections around the world were often marred by allegations of election fraud, including vote buying, intimidation and physical violence. But what is new is the shift in how such claims are being reported in the digital age – and taken seriously.

Continue reading

Standard