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Commencement 2024: Rick Dunham says skills learned in Global Business Journalism program are "invaluable in future careers"

Updated: Jul 8

Rick Dunham is co-director of the Global Business Journalism program. The GBJ program is the top English language journalism master's program in China.
Rick Dunham: "The Global Business Journalism community is special because we are diverse."

The Global Business Journalism website is providing in-depth coverage of the 2024 Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication commencement, including the celebration of the GBJ graduation. Today, we offer you the complete remarks of Global Business Journalism Co-Director Rick Dunham on June 28 at the GBJ ceremony in the recently renovated journalism school building.


大家好。 Da jia hao. Good afternoon.


Today is a day of joy and celebration. Twenty-nine students from 13 different countries are receiving Global Business Journalism degrees, diplomas and certificates. I congratulate all of you for your hard work and your perseverance.


Some of you represent our final group of scholars whose studies were disrupted by the COVID pandemic. Justin [Olsvik], Irina [Komarova], Alicia [Zeng] and Stephanie [Fallas]: You took gap years so that you could end your journeys on this beautiful and historic campus – and you have rewarded us with your academic excellence and immense personal contributions to our program. Others, like [Nguyen] Hà Linh, were delayed in starting your GBJ studies but quickly caught up and became integral parts of our close-knit community.

Rick Dunham is co-director of the Global Business Journalism program. The GBJ program is the top English language journalism master's program in China.
Rick Dunham: "You are prepared to be international partners and global leaders."

The Global Business Journalism community is special because we are diverse. It is special because we truly care about one another. It is special because professors and staff care not only about academics – but also about the personal happiness of the students. We want to prepare you for your professional futures, but we also want you to get the most out of your Tsinghua days and your China journey. Most of all, GBJ is special because of you.

You are smart. You are eager to learn. You are a professor's dream. Our international students this year set a new standard for best performance in thesis defense since the program was created in 2007.


Today is the next step in your China journey. For graduates of journalism schools around the world, it is a journey fraught with uncertainty. In a profile of me published this semester, my student Li Leyao wrote, “Some Chinese social media influencers have declared that ‘journalism is dying’ and caution students against selecting it as a college major.”


My response to Leyao is something that I will repeat  emphatically to you right now: “There is always a market for young people who can tell stories. There is always a place for truth-tellers and smart analysts.”

Prepared for leadership


The skills that are taught in the Global Business Journalism program are invaluable in future careers, whether they are in journalism or business, startups or government, entrepreneurial ventures or corporate cultures.


You have learned advanced storytelling tools and techniques. You have learned data research and analysis. You have learned multimedia storytelling and data visualization. You have learned new media and cross-cultural communication and teamwork and team-building. You are prepared to be international partners and global leaders. I can’t wait to see where life takes you.


Bloomberg News’ founding editor-in-chief, Matthew Winkler, shares my optimism. During his recent visit to Tsinghua University, Matt praised the quality of journalism education in the GBJ program and its adaptability amid rapid changes in the industry.


“The innovative spirit is mirrored here at Tsinghua and is vital for the evolution of journalism education,” he said.

Matthew Winkler was one of the founders of the Global Business Journalism program. Rick Dunham has been GBJ co-director since 2013.
Matthew Winkler (front right), with Tsinghua journalism school dean Zhou Qing'an and GBJ students and faculty earlier this semester. (TSJC photo)


Like me, Matt Winkler believes that there is a place for value-added journalism that provides timely facts and data-driven analysis.


As he told the Tsinghua audience, “Despite constant changes in the media landscape, the core essence of journalism – accuracy, relevance and the pursuit of truth – remains unchanged.”



I could not agree more.


The need for agility

While I share his optimism, I am a realist about our era of technological upheaval. As U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in his commencement address at Georgetown law school on May 19:


“In a world that will continue to evolve quickly and in unexpected ways, you will need to be agile. Embracing change and taking risks can be an important part of your development as a professional and as a person.”


Rick Dunham, Barrows Dunham's grandson, is co-director of the Global Business Journalism program, GBJ, at Tsinghua University. He joined GBJ in 2013 after 29 years as a Washington reporter.
Barrows Dunham

I will conclude, as I always do, by quoting my grandfather, the American philosopher Barrows Dunham. My grandfather – who was arrested in the United States during the Red Scare era of the 1950s and charged with Contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee – remained an inveterate optimist throughout his life despite a career derailed by public enemies and political controversy. As shadows darkened his future in 1953, he wrote in his book, “Giant in Chains,” and I quote:


“I suppose that pain and some few terrors lie between us and our goal … But the earth, as I imagine, will remain, turning steadfastly upon its axis. The shadow of its turning will be time for love and sleep, and its turning from the shadow will be time for work and joy.”


I hope this is a time of joy for you. You've worked hard and earned our admiration and respect. And remember: The best is yet to come.


Congratulations to you and your families! 谢谢, 大家。[Xiexie, da jia.] Thank you.


>>> Complete coverage of Commencement 2024




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