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Jim Laurie

Global Media Consultant & Former ABC News Correspondent
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Biography

Emmy Award winner, a journalist and broadcaster for more than 45 years, Jim Laurie is currently Director of the Media Consulting firm ‘Focus Asia Productions Ltd.’ He divides his time between Hong Kong and Washington DC. For 26 years he was a global correspondent for NBC News and ABC News.

From 2005 through 2011, he was Director of the broadcasting program at the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong. He specialized in the study of media in China.

Laurie has interviewed many historically influential Asian leaders including China’s Deng Xiaoping, the Dalai Lama, and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk.

As a journalist, Laurie was witness to some of the defining moments in Asia’s history over the past 45 years. He was the only American network correspondent to cover the communist takeover of Saigon Vietnam on April 30, 1975. His role is portrayed in the Academy Award nominated film ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ directed by Rory Kennedy.

Laurie was the only network correspondent to visit Cambodia in the months immediately after the defeat of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime by Vietnamese forces. His 1980 documentary “This Shattered Land” chronicled the killing fields horror. Thirty two years later, he returned to Cambodia to produce another documentary aired on BBC Television called “Cambodia Surgical Ward,” profiling Western medical workers providing emergency health care to the impoverished population.

In July 1981, Laurie opened the first American television network bureau in Beijing. He reported on China’s opening up. Later, he reported from Beijing on the events of Tiananmen Square in June 1989. He continues to be a frequent visitor to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

He is the winner of two Emmy Awards, a Peabody for his coverage of the Vietnam War, and an Overseas Press Club Award.

Beyond Asia, Laurie has worked extensively in Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe. In Moscow in 2004, he was granted an extensive interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Thirteen years earlier, he interviewed both President’s Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.

Since 2004, Laurie has specialized in the development of global television news channels. He has served as a consultant to a half dozen global TV channels. Currently his client is China Central Television as they expand global operations in the English language.

In addition to consulting work, Laurie continues to produce documentary films including an environmental film: Earth Factor Asia: Making a Difference (2012 KQED World San Francisco). Most recently he served as advisor on Reinventing Cuba (2015), a portrait of Cuba as it was opening to its new relationship with Washington. Earlier films include: Vietnam: 25 Years Later (2000), China’s Unruly Dragon(1988), and Japan: Myths Behind the Miracle (1981)

He speaks on a variety of Asia and global issues.

Topics

Changing China 1978-2017: Should You be Concerned about the Direction of China?

The speaker has studied China since University days in 1973 and as a writer, TV correspondent, film maker, and consultant in and out of China since 1978. From his current base in Washington D.C., he travels frequently to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

In 2017, Laurie asks the question: Is China going in a new, dangerous direction that should concern us all?

Since late 2012, President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has dominated the political stage in China. His “anti-corruption campaign,” his muscular foreign policy, and his development of a unique brand of leadership has impacted China and the world. Laurie probes these developments with a unique historical eye.

In 1979, Laurie interviewed Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and then accompanied him on his ground breaking visit to the United States. In 1984, he accompanied President Ronald Reagan on his visit to China as Deng Xiaoping continued his policy of ‘modernization’ and engagement with the outside world. In 1989, Laurie covered the brutal crackdown of reform minded students and workers in what culminated in the ‘Tian An Men Massacre.' From 2005-2011, he studied China and its media first hand as a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, Journalism and Media Studies Center. In late 2015, he worked in Beijing as a consultant to Chinese state media.

In his talk supplemented with historical videos. Laurie provides a comprehensive look at a Changing China.

Vietnam: The Final Days & Beyond– 1975-2017

Jim Laurie cut his journalist teeth in Vietnam from 1970 to 1975. Since then, he has been a frequent visitor to both Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia.

With 47 years of Indochina anecdotes, his talk provides a wide ranging look at Vietnam yesterday and today. Laurie, in 1975 with NBC News, was the only American television network correspondent to witness the Fall of Saigon to communist forces. He remained in the South Vietnamese capital for nearly a month afterwards. His role in 1975 is portrayed in the 2014 documentary Last Days in Vietnam by Director Rory Kennedy. Laurie’s own films on Indochina: [Vietnam: 25 years on (STAR TV) and Cambodia Surgical Ward (BBC 2010)] provide unique perspectives on the region.

Laurie, in a talk accompanied by historical video, speaks of the lasting impact of Vietnam, its history, and life in Vietnam today.

China: The Search for Global Soft Power Influence

Since 2010, Laurie has been a media consultant to Chinese state media. With that unique inside perspective, he offers a talk on China’s effort to match its economic strength with a concerted effort to influence you, and the way you think about China.

Not only you … but people all over the world from Nairobi to Manila.

The speaker traces the changes in China and its media since he first began covering the rising giant in 1978. He explores the place of China in the global competition for soft power among Americans, Chinese, Russians and others.

Global Media Wars: How Foreign Internet & TV Providers Seek to Impact Your Lives

Traditional American television news is dying – replaced by digital/internet platforms and increasingly opinion led media.

Alongside this change in the American media landscape - major Global players are rising; spending large sums of money to enter the American market.

Hear how the Qataris, the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese and others are battling for your attention on air and on line.

As a consultant to a wide range of media companies including Al Jazeera and China Central Television, Laurie offers a unique ‘insider’s view’ of a changing media landscape and what it means to you.

Rebuilding a Russian Empire: Russia Then & Now & Meeting Vladimir Putin

This talk is based on the speaker’s coverage and travels through Russia and nearby nations from 1987 to the present day.

Laurie was ABC News Moscow Bureau Chief 1988-1991. He witnessed in Red Square the end of the Soviet Union and the birth of the Russian Federation.

With anecdotes and historical video, Laurie takes the audience through an informal, sometimes light hearted look at Russia and its neighbors then and now.

The informal journey takes you from Yalta on the Black Sea to Vilnius on the Baltic. We reminisce about meeting Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin – the key figures who brought modern Russia out of the old Soviet Union.

Turning serious, Laurie offers his perspective on President Vladimir Putin and his ambitions for Russia. Laurie interviewed Putin in Moscow in 2004 as Putin first spoke of his global ambitions.

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