Life Onboard
Chan Tau Chou: The Importance of Having a Story Well Told , May 9, 2017
Chan Tau Chou gives his first lecture on how he came to be a journalist
From Singapore to Sri Lanka, Peace Boat hosted Chan Tau Chou, a journalist who works for Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based news broadcaster, whose mission statement is "to give a voice to the voiceless". Growing up in a rapidly developing Singapore, at the age of 16 he discovered some black and white photos of violent street protests in a closet in his house. Asking his father about the pictures, he learned about a 1950s Singapore under British rule, where Chinese middle-school students, known for their leftist and anti-colonial activism, had faced violence from the police. Tau Chou's father was a student activist himself. This was a very different Singapore from that which Tau Chou had learnt about at school, so he began to realize the importance of understanding different sides to a story. This perhaps was the first spark to ignite his passion for journalism, which led him to work for newspapers and eventually become a Senior Producer for Al Jazeera's English current affairs programme, '101 East'.

Tau Chou gives a more intimate lecture in Chinese about investigative journalism that uncovered a multi-billion-dollar black market for jade
During his time on board Peace Boat's 94th Global Voyage, Tau Chou shared tips on successful journalism, and highlighted how often being the first to break a story overshadows how well it is told and whether the details are correct. Conversely, he emphasized that these are in fact the most important elements of good journalism, as well as the capacity to evoke emotion and have impact. Tau Chou also underlined how people's news consumption habits are changing, with people moving away from traditional newspapers and TV broadcasts and relying on Facebook or other social media to receive the latest news. He cautioned participants about Facebook's algorithm of determining one's news feed based on what one posts, likes' and shares, as well as what one's family and friends are discussing on the platform. "It's not based on what is accurate or good journalism and you don't see what other people are thinking," he explained, adding that is why people were so surprised when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. He highlighted the importance of strong and accurate journalism, especially now "in an age of relentless news feeds from social media, where you do not know what is true and what is not."

Tau Chou puts his journalistic skills into action by interviewing a fellow guest educator onboard, Niran Anketell, a human rights lawyer from Sri Lanka
Addressing the term fake news' that has recently gained prominence, Tau Chou pointed out that it's not a new problem. "It is now just happening in different ways and forms, so we have to tackle them with different strategies", he said. With today's world of instant access to disseminate information via social media and the internet, people compromise accuracy and judgement in the race to be first. On this basis, Tau Chou encouraged the audience to consider whether they can obtain good quality news from social media. As an example of old-fashioned investigative journalism, the audience heard of collaborative work in which Tau Chou was involved with freelance journalists from Thailand, Japan, China and Myanmar to investigate a multi-billion-dollar black market for jade. "Something I doubt any social media platform can uncover," he added. After hearing one of Tau Chou's lectures, Min Kyungsei, who is 23 and from Korea, commented "Before listening to the lecture, I thought that news from social media was correct, however after hearing Chan Tau Chou's lecture, I was glad to know that journalists work very hard to spread news through TV and newspapers that is more reliable".

Tau Chou introduces himself, together with other guest educators who joined the voyage in Singapore
Asked what would be the main thing he would like Peace Boat participants to take away, Tau Chou responded: "I think it's crucial to remind people of the importance of journalism in this day and age, because good journalism means putting out good, accurate information to help people make good decisions." Although the industry is experiencing declining revenues and budget cuts, Tau Chou remains optimistic. Knowing the need for journalistic accuracy and an environment with greater accountability, he believes the audience will return once they realize that these key elements are missing from current social media news.