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A war over words

If you work in the media business you need a thick skin. At some point in your career you have to expect that you yourself may become the news story.

It’s the worst case scenario for a journalist, but we are largely eccentric people who work under extreme circumstances – so it’s bound to happen. I shouldn’t have been surprised then when a few Sundays ago I was confronted, quite aggressively, by the editor of one of Hong Kong’s top luxury magazines – who for the sake of appearances should remain nameless.

As I stepped outside the outside IFC Mall, an overbearing figure came racing towards me screaming profanities and hurling all kinds of abuse about how I represented the worst-in-breed of the tabloid journalism crowd. This is not entirely true!

After a series of verbal exchanges, a few pushes and shoves – which at this stage had garnered a large crowd of onlookers – I was staring uncomfortably down the barrel of a good old media dust up. Luckily this man’s wife was able to throw him in a taxi and whisk him away before any real damage was done.

While in retrospect it was all quite amusing, it’s hardly the stuff you would expect of a professional journalist. But given this individual’s history, it’s hardly surprising.

It’s not the first time this has happened. The same editor confronted me at a work function about couple of years ago, asking me, rather politely, if I cared to step outside. Of course I obliged but it never came to blows.

We operate in a vastly different industry from the rough and readier newspaper days where journalism, drinking and fighting went hand-in-hand. In today’s media world, it’s a rare occurrence, particularly on a Sunday afternoon outside a shopping mall. And for the editor of a prestigious luxury magazine is even more surprising.

Fear and intimidation is no way to silence your critics – it just adds fuel to the flames.

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