When Two Reporters Fall in Love…

Hui Chau-ha - Senior Reporter, i-Cable News

[中文][Jan 2011 - The Journalist]  Over the past fifteen years, I worked in Commercial Radio, TVB and, presently, with Cable TV. All this while hardly any colleague or fellow reporters knew Law Chun Bong is my other half. We seldom took part together in gatherings or in public appearances. This explains why my Cable TV colleagues presented us as a gift at our wedding banquet at the end of 2009 a short film putting forward big queries about our relationship. It was a marvellous present.

We did not mean to be secretive. It would be better to say we had already got used to it. Our relationship began during our school days at the School of Communications at Baptist University. Although college romance was no longer a big deal at that time, we chose to keep silent to avoid being made fun of by schoolmates. Bong joined Commercial Radio shortly after I did, which was quite alarming to me because I thought office romance could be much more sensitive than at college. We chose to stay even more low-profiled. No matter what, our boss May Chan and the assignment editors should not know of our romance.

Bond made the proposal on the top of London Eye.
Wonder if this was the highest place for a proposal?
This was not easy. We began to treat each other like strangers in office. Surprisingly, we grew accustomed to it. We would keep away from each other when a third person was there. Later, when we worked for different companies, we would always pretend to be cool even when meeting at assignments. Looking back, the way we suppressed our feelings to refrain from doing any intimate acts in public, was rather “abnormal”.

Out-of-town assignments

Even tougher though, very often we were put on out-of-town assignments at different times by our editors. Celebrities having an affair will arrive at the airport departure hall separately and then join each other somewhere else for fun. Our situation was completely different: when I was back from assignment, he would just begin his. One year, I worked in Beijing for three weeks to cover the NPC and CPPCC meetings and was about to head back home, when my other half called to say that he was just about to leave for his assignment. This kind of unexpected and not infrequent incidents would nevertheless keep us apart for one to two months. We quarrelled on several occasions. So, I think if two persons fall in love, it would be better if they were not reporters. Otherwise, their relations might be at stake.

At times when we took on the same assignment, we could help one another out by reminding each other news that could not afford to be missed, and of those tricks played by fellow reporters. On one occasion, while in Beijing working for different news organizations on assignment, Bong and another reporter found clues of a potential news story, and when he was about to tell me, he was stopped. The reporter told him that I was with an “enemy” station. I was disappointed, not for how Bong had treated me, or having missed a news story, but because of knowing how this reporter had been thinking deep inside, and this guy used to be nice and sincere in front of people. I think if not for my secretive second half, I would never have known about this person.

It is a known fact that people in similar occupations compete with each other. We are now working for different television stations, a little competition between us is inevitable. We have a lot of “must not dos”. Never take it for granted that there should be no secrets between a couple. We have our rules when discussing news that are exclusive to our news organizations. Firstly, colleagues’ exclusive stories should be kept confidential. They are outcomes of hard work, which should be treated with full respect and should not be disclosed before broadcast. Secondly, strategic plans of the company for reporting should not be disclosed, lest it is copied.

Sharing secrets

Nevertheless, I am always eager to share with my other half an interesting or special story of my colleagues, in which case I will need to consider whether to tell him or not. I will first probe by asking: “Who and who is doing a story really great and fabulous. I would love to tell you, but…If I were to tell you, would you do a follow-up? Would you promise to keep it secret...?” A whole range of questions, repeated several times to make sure that he is not going to leak anything, before I will disclose a little bit. We will then spend a whole night discussing how to work the story out, what to be filmed, who to be interviewed.

On the other hand, if I am told of a news story or an interview with a government official exclusive to his organization, I will be an obedient listener, and will not leak a word to my company, as that would be unethical. So I always keep a little secret to myself when I'm back at home.

Sometimes, we will discuss for days how his or my news organization handled a certain piece of news, asking questions like “Will you put the June 4 Candle Light Vigil as the lead story?”, “Will you allow sound bites with expressions like massacre or bloodshed?”, “Why was this piece of news dropped?” We share in order to understand each other’s organization better.

Looking back to our more than ten years’ relations, I would say that dating between reporters is no “good thing”, given their irregular working hours and day-offs.

The only advantage may be the amazingly strong resonance we share with each other when talking about gossip news.

Translated by Melanie Wan