Hello Reddit! This is Matthew Rodier, a photojournalist that is based in New York, who spent 103 days documenting the Hong Kong protests of 2019.

A lot has happened since my last AMA, in Hong Kong, in America, and in my life. Hong Kong has instituted its National Security Law, which has led to the arrests of over 200 individuals, a mass exodus of Hong Kongers overseas (particularly to the UK) and essentially the criminalization of public criticism of the Hong Kong government. I have been working in the U.S. since the last AMA. Some of the stories I have covered since then have been: the reaction to the sentencing of Ahmaud Arbery's killers in Georgia, a far right political rally in Portland and subsequent street violence between the participants and counterprotesters, a large crowd gathered in the streets of D.C. to celebrate Joe Biden's victory, the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, and a series of climate change protests in Manhattan earlier this year.

I also moved back to NY from DC and took a break from work to deal with a family health issue, but I am excited to do some more coverage abroad in the coming year.

Two weeks ago I released the hardcover version of my photography book on the Hong Kong protests of 2019, When I Go Dreaming. Those of you interested in purchasing it can find it here: https://www.blurb.com/b/11417395-when-i-go-dreaming

So let's get to it, AMA! I will be answering questions for most of today with a few breaks in between.

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/eETOLkg. Also, this is my Mastodon account: https://journa.host/@matthewrodier

Comments: 236 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

SpringfieldTireFire121 karma

What event did you cover where you felt the most in danger?

matthewrodier263 karma

That's a tough one. I got assaulted and hospitalized covering a riot that followed a BLM protest in DC, so that turned out to be the most dangerous by far. When the gates came down at the edge of the Capitol lawn on January 6th I started running up the lawn with the participants, and part of me felt like maybe someone would open fire, either in the crowd or on the crowd. During the Siege of Polytechnic University in Hong Kong the protesters were throwing Molotov cocktails from the roof and we were down below between them and the police so two of them landed within 5 feet of me at different times. That wasn't a great feeling. Here is one of those molotov cocktails: https://imgur.com/IZPvb4h

hardlypat00756 karma

Why were you assaulted?

matthewrodier243 karma

Two young guys accused me of being a cop, which didn't make sense bc I had a large camera in my hand. As I was explaining that I'm a journalist they asked me to lift my shirt up. I did and while I was doing that I got smashed in the face with something. Not sure what as I never saw it.

Greasedick6918 karma

So funny to me that the Hong Kong protests got such coverage. If anyone in the US had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the police in 2020 they would have used it as a pretext to start a pogrom in the inner city.

matthewrodier81 karma

Two lawyers threw a molotov cocktail at an empty NYPD car in 2020 and one of them just plead out to 15 months in prison about a month ago. Take from that what you will. I have seen some shocking responses (or lack thereof) from police forces in the US. One far right rally in Portland I covered the police announced they weren't getting involved beforehand, and didn't even when there were fireworks exploding by gas pumps in a residential neighborhood.

RockLobsterInSpace24 karma

One far right rally in Portland I covered the police announced they weren't getting involved beforehand, and didn't even when there were fireworks exploding by gas pumps in a residential neighborhood.

But a water bottle thrown over a fence landing near some swatted out officers at a BLM protest and they start launching tear gas canisters at people's heads. Using so much tear gas that people in their apartments 3-4 blocks away we're getting effects of the gas along with all the people in the jail.

matthewrodier37 karma

Yeah fireworks were exploding next to gas pumps next to a 7-11 where I watched a Dad usher his kids quickly into his car to take off. A man got assaulted in his truck in an elementary school parking lot. A van was flipped over by a bunch of Proud Boys at the edge of a strip mall parking lot on a main road. It was a quiet family neighborhood and it just went wild when the counterprotesters showed up, attacks on both sides. The police just basically abdicated their duty for the day. I would say it was a massive failure but long before the rally took place they had said they wouldn't intervene if there was street violence.

Halvinz3 karma

Do you have a photo essay of Proud Boys flipping cars?

matthewrodier2 karma

I have photos of them flipping over a van in Portland.

Krawald-40 karma

That is the time you stop to take a picture? I don't know much about Molotov cocktails, but wouldn't it be a good time to run to safety in case glass flies when it cracks or things catch fire?

matthewrodier30 karma

It landed right in front of me and stuck in the mud. I didn't stop anywhere, it just fell out of the sky. They are not like bombs, if it doesn't smash it is generally not going to shatter. My first reaction when I am working is to photograph whatever happens. If I ran every time I something intense happened I couldn't do my job.

Krawald4 karma

You make a good point about running. I'm glad you don't, and instead take all these amazing pics! Still scary to see though!

matthewrodier3 karma

Yeah it's not like I don't question it later. It's just you do that in the hotel or at the bar having beers with friends when it is over. When it is going on you just shoot and try not to get hurt. There isn't much time or energy to do anything else, and the suppression of normal fight or flight instincts is a necessity.

dn0010 karma

You don't know much about how situations can change for the worse during a riot either.

matthewrodier13 karma

I took the pic, yelled to my friend ahead of me, he took a pic of it, and then we got out of there. He had the same instinct.

PartyYogurtcloset267-45 karma

in Hong Kong the protesters were throwing Molotov cocktails from the roof

Lol, the stuff that was never shown on western media

matthewrodier72 karma

There are so many pictures of molotov cocktails. People will watch one or two tv stations and declare that as all of western media.

greenknight884101 karma

After Hong Kong, do you think mass protests are capable of producing meaningful change? Or do those in power simply crack down harder?

matthewrodier158 karma

I think it is possible to produce meaningful change, but it seems generally the more authoritarian the government you are protesting the easier they will find it, from a logistical perspective, to crack down on civil liberties and the more willing they will be to do so. I would like to believe it is still possible for protests to make a difference though.

movingwork5 karma

what is biggest misconception towards folks in Hong Kong & their situation in relation to covid?

matthewrodier64 karma

I am not sure what you mean. Also, I haven't been in Hong Kong since I left in December of 2019. Absurdly enough when I got to the U.S. my family and friends were all glad I got out of Asia because they believed I had escaped the virus.

SantasBananas68 karma

Hi there! You seem to have a knack for being at and documenting events with a lot of civil unrest. How do you decide which events to go out and cover? Also, which causes have you felt the most drawn in by?

matthewrodier83 karma

I generally cover anything I hear about that I think is newsworthy, but the large scale protests and riots and the insurrection get the most attention for obvious reasons. I wouldn't say I get drawn in because I believe you need to keep a certain level of clinical detachment to maintain professionalism and avoid bias. I do think I stay longer than most at times. I certainly stayed in Hong Kong longer than most people who went there to document the protests. I think that is mostly dedication but part of it is curiosity. It's watching a story unfold in real time. You want to see how it ends.

matthewrodier63 karma

This is a picture I took on January 6th, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol.https://imgur.com/a/6Q8LhGL

FullAutoOctopus6 karma

Judging from this photo, they were arresting somebody and saving one of their own from being attacked by the mob?

matthewrodier34 karma

IIRC I came onto this scene when they were already beginning to deploy pepper spray. I believe I wrote the caption up as "a police officer pepper sprays the crowd as Trump supporters storm the United States Capitol..." or something to that effect. In photojournalism, especially chaotic situations, you don't always have all the information you'd like and you can't get it after because the situation is fluid and people are moving. In this case I turned away after this to avoid being pepper sprayed. In those scenarios I keep it simple and only include the limited info that I know to be true in the caption. I know he was pepper spraying the crowd and I know they were storming the Captiol.

FullAutoOctopus17 karma

That makes sense. Great work!

matthewrodier27 karma

Thank you, These AMA's are kinda brutal for a person like me so kind words are always a bit more appreciated than they normally would be.

WanderingAlice011917 karma

You’re doing great! Your responses have been very insightful. You’ve got a fascinating job and nerves of steel.

matthewrodier1 karma

Thank you. much appreciated.

Pierceful4 karma

This and you are so cool. Thank you so much for your work. I echo the sentiment you wrote elsewhere in here: the world is better with photojournalism in it.

matthewrodier2 karma

I don't know about all that. I'm a bit of a nerd, I read about government policy in my free time, but my job is pretty interesting I think and helpful for society.

matthewrodier41 karma

Here is a picture from the book.https://imgur.com/MXjEihB

georog-63 karma

Worth US$ 6, apparently ($250 for 42 pages).

matthewrodier57 karma

People sell images like the ones on every page for 25-50 dollars in a frame, so yeah, it is.

XonarR37 karma

Did they ever had a real chance? And what do you think was there biggest mistake.

-> what can we learn from there protest's

matthewrodier54 karma

Whether or not they had a real chance depends on what the goal was, and the goals of the protesters differed. There was the 5 demands (which you can google) that they agreed on but eventually some wanted other things like outright independence, which is incredibly difficult to achieve but it has happened. India gained independence from the British, largely by peaceful means from what I know. Ireland also gained independence from the British but that involved a lot more violence on both sides.

As far as what can be learned from the Hong Kong protesters I don't believe it is my place as a journalist to disseminate protest tactics, although I have a wealth of knowledge in that area at this point. Most of their tactics can be found online if you want to research them.

Kilikiss35 karma

I'm curious about your opinion on the future of Hong Kong, do you believe the protests are over for good or just dormant for now?

matthewrodier70 karma

So when the Umbrella movement ended some people believed it was over then, but it obviously resurfaced. A lot of the frontliners are very young and facing less than ten year sentences. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they are all released. No real way to predict.

Drtspt28 karma

I arrived in Hong Kong, traveling to China for business at the peak of the airport peaceful protests. It was surreal and unimaginable and a little scary. What was your most unimaginable moment during your time there?

matthewrodier48 karma

At PolyU I saw an armored personnel carrier get hit with so many molotov cocktails that the driver abandoned the vehicle and ran in the direction it came from. That's something you don't see every day.

BroccoliPrince25 karma

What drew you to photojournalism, and all the high-tension scenarios it takes you to, rather than a more... chill kind of photography? I'd imagine it's the kind of job that's really not for everyone, so I'm curious about what makes it "for you"

matthewrodier38 karma

I was never really interested in other types of photography. There are a million ways to get an adrenaline rush in this world, and I've tried a lot of them, but the work isn't about that. The world functions better with photojournalism in it, so I do it the best I can. I actually got into street photography since I've been doing this for a living bc I met so many photographers that do so many cool things with that, but more than anything I really just value the work.

BroccoliPrince10 karma

You're right, the world is better for having photojournalism. It helps people grasp the realities of a situation in a way a written account (still valuable, just in a different way) can, makes events tangible, and preserves them for future generations and historians. It's a good calling to have.

Thank you very much for taking the time to indulge my curiosity :)

matthewrodier12 karma

No problem, and I agree with you. I have a law degree and have seen how intelligent people can argue anything word based to the point where even if they don't win the argument you end it just confused. With pictures it is a lot more simple.

michelsonnmorley23 karma

Hi Mr Rodier, thank you for doing this AMA. What tactics did the HK police use to quell or suppress protests, and how do these methods compare to the ones used by American police?

matthewrodier62 karma

You're welcome. The Hong Kong police used more tear gas and more rubber bullets. U.S. police seem to like to make lines and then proceed forward to clear the streets, often with bicycles positioned next to each other. American cops, in D.C. at least, seem to use more flash bangs. Hong Kong was just different. In the U.S. they would throw water bottles at police. After peaceful protests were met with tear gas and water cannons in Hong Kong eventually the use of molotov cocktails by protesters became an expected thing. Just a lot more flying though the air on both sides there.

matthewrodier22 karma

I am going to meet friends for drinks to usher in the new year. Please keep asking questions and I'll resume this discussion in the morning, and thanks to everyone who has participated in good faith thus far.

RazvenHK11 karma

Happy New Year, Matt. Keep up the excellent work, it's been an honor to have worked with you in HK.

matthewrodier2 karma

Thank you sir, and a happy new year to you. I've said it before and I'll say it again: your help in Hong Kong was invaluable.

matthewrodier15 karma

In case anyone missed it in the intro the link to buy the book is here: https://www.blurb.com/b/11417395-when-i-go-dreaming. The more books I sell the more I can travel. The more I can travel the more I can report.

On another note I understand that some people just don't like journalists but if you are celebrating someone who is nonviolent getting assaulted at work your'e a bad person and you should maybe examine why you're so miserable.

BronnOP14 karma

What camera do you currently use? Do you edit your photos and if so, how do you know when you’ve got it where you want it?

I often find I can edit a photo and feel like I’ve made it look 10x better but worry if I’ve done “too much”.

matthewrodier42 karma

I shot all of the Hong Kong protests with a Nikon D850 and either a 24-120mm F4 or a 70-300mm 4.5-5.6. I now use a Nikon Z6II with a 24-70 2.8 and the D850 with a 70-200 2.8.

I edit my photos in Lightroom Classic. I like to edit minimally as I am very conscious that I am doing it for journalistic purposes. If someone isn't I don't think it's an issue. Usually if someone needs to edit something an immense amount to make it interesting it wasn't that interesting to begin with.

_Lucille_12 karma

Grew up in the city but emigrated away, but still keep up to local news. It seems like all the major leaders in HK's pan-democratic camp have been jailed, while some have fled the city. The whole democratic movement appears to have died politically.

As democracy seems to erode away in many parts of the world, how can the society continue to uphold democratic values? The age old answer of "go vote" seems to be less and less meaningful as players of the game learn methods of social engineering, gerrymandering, etc to shift the result heavily in their favor.

matthewrodier11 karma

I wish I had a good answer to this, but I know it will require diligence and sacrifice. I don't think there is a simple solution.

spiritplumber12 karma

Tactically, what do you think they should have done better?

matthewrodier38 karma

I'm not a tactical consultant. People do things. I pictures. I'm sure people will be debating their tactics for years to come but that's not my business. I'm a journalist. I will say they Hong Kongers are a generally smart and well educated people and they were committed. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong at the time was a woman named Carrie Lam, and the protesters regularly compared her to Hitler, I mean they hated this woman. Just general animosity towards the government in general, China, anyone who did business with them or supported them. There was never a lack of enthusiasm.

matthewrodier11 karma

I submitted a photo of me holding up a piece of paper with the date on it and addressing the Reddit mods, my ID, and a selfie of me wearing the ID around my neck. Hopefully that'll get it done.

notmyrealnameatleast10 karma

Do protesters end up disagreeing and fighting each other and stuff?

matthewrodier15 karma

I saw a number of heated arguments but no physical fighting. I'm not saying it definitely never occurred, but I never witnessed any.

Metalhart009 karma

I've always kind of assumed the clear lack of communication between the US and China compared to the US and other countries was mutual, basically allowing each government to point to the other and say "look how oppressed and miserable those people are. We may not be perfect but aren't you glad we aren't them?"

I saw a comic once that had an American bikini babe walking past a woman covered head to toe, I think she was supposed to be Afghani. But they're both thinking "what a sad, male dominated world she lives in." I wonder if the way the US and China represent each other to their citizens might be a bit like that. Any thoughts? Is this accurate?

matthewrodier12 karma

They made a lot of not so vague statements about their belief foreign forces were influencing the protests. It's easier, and advantageous to any government, to propagate a belief that some nefarious enemy is causing discontent and not that people don't like how they are governed and are very mad about it.

NestroyAM6 karma

Have people in Hongkong just arranged themselves with their situation or is there still some resistance?

And how is Ukraine‘s current situation perceived in HK?

matthewrodier11 karma

I am not in Hong Kong and haven't been for 3 years.

lightningpresto6 karma

What were some good things that you really enjoyed in Hong Kong? Food? Conveniences? Etc?

matthewrodier22 karma

Hot pot with friends is amazing. As is roasted pork over rice after a pub. The MTR is the cleanest and most orderly form of public transit I've ever seen anywhere (when they didn't shut it down to stifle protests but I digress), the ramen bar at a 7-11 by me for a lot of the time was surprisingly good. Lion Rock and the Peak are beautiful. Most places you go the Guinness is fresh. There are sick sports cars everywhere so if you like stuff like that, which I do, that's interesting. The sunsets are unreal. The people are lovely. It is very much an Asian city but has a distinctly British feel at times. It's a place like no other.

AlliHearisWubs5 karma

What percent of the population do you think supported the protest and how many were actually directly involving themselves?

matthewrodier28 karma

Not sure. Anecdotally I'd say the majority of the population supported the protests, and election data seems to support that. They had district council elections, which is kind of like city council elections but more important bc the city is also its own region of a large country, during the protests and the pro-democracy candidates won an overwhelming majority of the seats. 2 million people showed up to a protest before I arrived, and I photographed a protest with 800k people. There is a photo of the 800k protest in the book, which you can buy here (i have to do it at times I'm sorry): https://www.blurb.com/b/11417395-when-i-go-dreaming

Toocents7 karma

Just to add, Hong Kong's population at that time would've been under 8 million.

matthewrodier20 karma

Thought it was a little over 7 million, , 7.3 or something. so roughly 2/7 of the population, which is i think roughly 26%, maybe? I didn't end up in this business bc I'm good at math.

notmyrealnameatleast5 karma

How do you feel about the police being allowed to hide their identity or faces?

matthewrodier33 karma

The same way I feel about it in the U.S., police are public servants and should be accountable for their actions. Not sure how that happens if they obscure their identity.

Alien_Jackie5 karma

Has there been any level of danger in your line of work?

matthewrodier14 karma

Yup. Got assaulted, had to have my jaw surgically reconstructed. I don't like talking about it much but the story is in a comment somewhere in this thread.

Alien_Jackie6 karma

Oh my gosh I'm sorry. Hopefully this new year will be calmer

matthewrodier12 karma

It happened two years ago, but thank you. I knew it was a risky job when I got into it but it sucks when you get hurt. I lost a friend last year actually who died while working but I don't like to discuss that publicly, at least not during an AMA.

Paper_glasses5 karma

Hey Matthew thanks for covering the events with the photos. I would like to know how one starts in photojournalism? Do you go to school? Apply at a news organization?

matthewrodier11 karma

I bought a camera, had my buddy from who studied photography at FIT show me how to use it a few times in a park in Queens, New York, and then two weeks later I flew to Hong Kong. All the connections I made in journalism stemmed from there.

royalsocialist4 karma

Could you give any more details about how you made those connections and how you got into it professionally? I'm very seriously considerering this path, but I don't really know where to start.

Did you simply head there without connections, take some pictures, send them to various outlets and ask if they wanted to buy the rights? And then just talk to other journalists you came across while covering the events? How did you make your connections and get started?

matthewrodier3 karma

I had no idea where to start, but I figured if I released a photography book of the Hong Kong protests it would at least be proof that I was capable of doing the job. That led to me spending about 3.5 months in Hong Kong, and then it was just meeting people. If you are photographing a protest usually before it starts there are journalists standing around waiting, because you want to show up early to be professional. The guy who ultimately connected me to my primary agency that sells my work is someone I struck up a conversation with before a protest started in Hong Kong. We went to get a pint of Guinness after it was over and became friends. Most people in the industry are helpful to new folks if you are respectful and at least try your best to not get in the way too much. We were all new to it at some point and remember what that was like, and you'll find plenty of people willing to help.

matthewrodier4 karma

And we're back!

Icantevenhavemyname4 karma

Hey Matthew Happy New Year and best of luck with the book.

I’m curious what your camera gear setup is when you cover some of these volatile events? Is there a defined reason(to you) as to why you might choose to go in closer with a prime or stay on the fringes with some zoom? It sounds like you’ve already experienced the dangers of getting close. In hindsight, was it worth it for the shots you walked away with? TIA and stay safe.

matthewrodier8 karma

Not sure if it was worth getting hurt, I guess I'd like to think so. I use zoom lenses but that doesn't mean you can take pictures from your apt or the hotel room. You could use a long lens, and I do at times, but on a city street that is not always practical.

matthewrodier3 karma

So this is totally off topic but I feel like I must offer this information as a public service because it is New Years Day. If you are hungover right now the best way to deal with that, in my experience, is to mix red gatorade with fruit punch pedialyte and drink that on ice and take a B complex vitamin.

aaroneouszoneus3 karma

My grandma was Pauline Rodier, we related? You look like her if I squint.

matthewrodier4 karma

Not sure but I'll look into it tomorrow.

CaptainOktoberfest3 karma

Did the protestors in Hong Kong talk much about Tianamen?

matthewrodier9 karma

Yes. They spoke of it often.

Pandering_Panda78792 karma

Hey Matthew,

Nice to have you here and thank you for answering our questions. If you don't mind, let's talk gear: What system do you use and what lenses do you prefer (and which one do you actually end up using the most - might be different ones)? Are you staying classic with the big DSLRs? Are you stealthy with the small Fujis? Or somewhere in-between?

Greetings from a fellow journalist colleague:)

matthewrodier5 karma

Made the jump into mirrorless and bought a NIkon Z6II a few months ago and am really enjoying it, keep a 24-70 2.8 on it. Then I still have the D850 with a 70-200 2.8 on it. Lately I really want to buy an old school 35mm film camera. This guy let me use one at a bar in the East Village, a vintage Pentax, about a month ago and it was great fun. Plus there are shots you just can't get the same with digital, although it makes everything a million times easier.

Pandering_Panda78791 karma

Any specific film camera you have your eyes on? I bought a few a while ago. I got a Canon A1 and my gramps AE1 Program, plus a few newer P&S and the ones my family used in the 90s (Canon EOS 500 and Nikon F-401 I think). I'd really love to get Rolleiflex or a Leica M3 sometime in the future.

matthewrodier2 karma

I was reading abiout the Canon Canonet QL17. I know nothing about these cameras but that one sounded cool.

Pandering_Panda78792 karma

The QL 17 is a beautiful camera. You might also like the original Olympus Pen.

matthewrodier2 karma

Thanks for the recommendation.

PeanutSalsa2 karma

How were you treated by authorities while you covered the protests?

matthewrodier11 karma

They pepper sprayed me in the face once, shot beanbag rounds out of a shotgun at me another time (when there were no protesters near), and would push us at times. It's a close situation. They were arresting people and I was trying to get as close as possible to take pictures of the arrests, so some interaction is expected but I don't think the pepper spray was necessary and the beanbag rounds that barely missed my head certainly weren't. I posed no threat to any officer at any time. When things would get too hectic I would put my hands in the air to prove I wasn't a threat, which often seemed to calm things down enough for me to get out of a space where I was blocked in. In all fairness I got hit with a baton by a U.S. cop by the White House, cops just see us as in their way I think.

PlanktonKindly74992 karma

I know very little about the hk protests. from my observations, coverage of the revolutionary protests over there in late 2019 seemed to completely cut off as the media attention turned to covid. From an outside perspective it seems like the protests just "stopped" while I know they didnt the medi coverage certainly did. So my question to you is how did the protests change in beginning of 2020, and how are they doing as of now?

matthewrodier7 karma

I left for the last time December 16th. The reason you think media attention turned from the protests to Covid is after Covid hit you couldn't even stand with more than I think three people in the same place (dont quote me on that specific number) so people couldn't gather to protest. As of now I don't know of any in person protest activity in Hong Kong, although the diaspora has rallies in UK and DC and NY from time to time.

slugma1232 karma

What's your favourite Pokémon?

matthewrodier9 karma

I know nothing about Pokemon. Charazar? Is that a thing?

aavellana272 karma

There’s some of these movements I sometimes wish I was a part of. Not the dangerous ones but the more political ones.

How do you go about finding the info on these events?

matthewrodier3 karma

I want to be clear that I don't consider myself a part of these movements. I document them. That being said most protests are organized on social media.

BerserkerCrusader2 karma

Would you be interested in covering the 2014 Ukraine protests to report on how the current war started and what powers were at play?

matthewrodier3 karma

I am not an investigative journalist, so no. I cover events as they happen.

menscothegreat1 karma

How was the political divide amongst the population in-between the protests?

matthewrodier2 karma

The majority of people seemed to favor the protests, and District Council election data backs that up, but there was definitely some division, often between old and young. I had a source whose parents kicked them out for participating in the protests, for instance.

HG_Redditington1 karma

What you believe were the primary factors in Carrie Lam and her ministry rolling over to Beijing and passing such an authoritarian security law?

matthewrodier1 karma

I don't know what their motivations were. I don't know Carrie Lam or her ministry personally, nor am I a mind reader or a psychologist.

alanrickman19461 karma

Did you see any link between US funding and the protests?

matthewrodier3 karma


gerhudire1 karma

What was the worst thing you witnessed while covering the Hong-Kong protests?

matthewrodier10 karma

Depends how you define the worst. I saw a lot of police brutality to the point where I would almost get numb to it because it was common. The thing that stayed with the most was a two young people that got arrested. It was a young man and a young woman, and he was despondent, just staring out into space, and she was wailing and pleading with the police to not arrest them. By their reaction it seemed that they had never been in trouble before, and even though I don't speak Cantonese I could tell she was very scared. It's in the book and one photo I don't like to look at. I stay unemotional at work, because I have to, but later on I always wondered what happened to them.

austin1234571 karma

Having first hand knowledge of the Jan 6th protests. Do you think the media has covered it truthfully? Or have they been biased one way or the other?

matthewrodier2 karma

"The media" is such a vague and amorphous term that it has been essentially rendered meaningless. I know my coverage was truthful and that is my primary concern.

Efficient-Nerve6721 karma

Thanks for covering the news in Hong Kong.

2 questions

Will you consider to visit Hong Kong again to do more news coverage? Or will you not consider because of the NSL? Have you considered to do electronic version?


matthewrodier1 karma

I would like to visit Hong Kong again, to do news coverage and also because I generally like Hong Kong, but I am not sure I would feel comfortable. It would depend on the situation I guess. I did release an electronic version, in 2020. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/When-Go-Dreaming-Days-Protests-ebook/dp/B089CGMR5X

Anonymous8211 karma

What's the language barrier like in HK? Did you learn a bit of Cantonese?

matthewrodier7 karma

I did not. I learned how to say thank you and that was it. From what I was told Cantonese is the 2nd hardest language to learn, behind Finnish I think (or a country near it). So many people speak English there that it wasn't really an issue. I wish I could have learned more but besides some simple Spanish I am devoid of language skills.

NSAMGQ1 karma

When dealing with editors, how much leway do you get in pitching story ideas on lesser known or under reported issues?

matthewrodier1 karma

I'd rather not get into the nuts and bolts of dealing with editors. It's just a business side of things and I don't see it as relevant to my work in dealing with the public. Hope you can respect that. I like the editors I primarily work with, I'll say that, and they were incredibly supportive when I got hurt, which meant a lot to me.

SpongeToffee1 karma

How did they treat outside media, that was covering the social unrest that was happening in the country. Did you have any run ins with police while trying to cover the unrest?

matthewrodier2 karma

Yes. The police would stop me often and question me. An officer pepper sprayed me in the face one time while I was photographing an arrest, another time one shot beanbag rounds at a group of press I was in when there were no protesters anywhere near us. In Hong Kong, in the US ,wherever, from what I can tell police generally see us as being in the way.

theswedishguy941 karma

How did you become a photojournalist? Did you study photography? How does one break into the industry?

matthewrodier3 karma

I did not formally study photography. I bought a camera and my buddy who studied photography showed me the basics of how to use it in a park in Queens, New York. About two weeks later I flew to Hong Kong. That is not a typical career path for a photojournalist but it worked for me. I was in my late 30's when I got into this. If you are younger than that I would consider pursuing a degree in it. A double major journalism and photography would be ideal I believe.

-JVT038-1 karma

Would you ever return to Hong Kong if another wave of protests would occur? Or is it too unsafe for journalists?

matthewrodier3 karma

I can't speak for all journalists, but I am unsure if it would be safe for me specifically. My understanding of the NSL is that anything that portrays the government or police in a negative manner is illegal, and I released a photography book with multiple pictures of what could be considered police brutality, so that might cause an issue. That being said I might go anyway. It would depend on the scenario.

Efficient_Step_261 karma

Do you think China will invade Taiwan from what you have seen in HongKong? Are they capable or willing to risk it?

matthewrodier3 karma

Photographing the Hong Kong protests didn't offer any insight into China's plans as to whether or not to invade Taiwan. I would have no way of knowing if they are capable or willing to risk it. I know that they have significantly expanded their military in recent years and I believe Xi Jinping has stated that he wants to take Taiwan during his tenure. My hope is that cooler heads prevail. If China invades Taiwan it'll quickly lead to war with the U.S. and also probably crash the world economy because of Taiwan's dominance in the semiconductor industry. Ultimately if they can be avoided I would like to see less war, or ideally no war. Not sure that is possible but I always hope for effective diplomacy.

JackStalk1 karma

How successful is the NPPA pass for getting you into events?

matthewrodier2 karma

Credentials necessary for entry are often event specific from what I have seen. A lot of my work has been protest coverage, which generally occurs in the street and doesn't require any sort of access. The NPPA does a good job at identifying you as a professional journalist, and they have lawyers to represent us if our work causes legal trouble, plus they do a good job at advocating for visual journalists. I originally joined bc my first 3.5 week trip to Hong Kong the police kept stopping me, and that continued during the second trip, but with the NPPA pass I had something to show them to say "look I'm a journalist." It certainly helped at times.

chuminh2221 karma

Do you believe the Communist party sent its arms force and disguise as citizen yo create chaos?

matthewrodier3 karma

No, and I don't believe any evidence exists to support that theory.

adognamedpenguin1 karma

How much work did you need to have under your belt to qualify for a national press certificstion?

matthewrodier3 karma

I had very little. The main qualifications for joining the NPPA, as I understand them, is an agreement to behave according to generally accepted principles of the profession.

Mrmrmckay1 karma

Do you believe in the predictions of chinas social, economic and population collapse?

matthewrodier3 karma

I'm not sure what a social collapse is. Their economy expanded at a historic rate the last few decades so I would assume there will be a contraction at some point. I believe their population is aging, but as far as I know that is happening in most countries. Things like this are hard to predict and not in my field of expertise.

nertynertt1 karma

ever encounter any conclusive evidence the west/western influences were involved in these protests? for example like the stuff in cuba not too long ago

matthewrodier2 karma

Not sure what you are referring to with Cuba but I encountered no evidence whatsoever that western influences were involved in the Hong Kong protests.

SpeakoEspanglish1 karma

What would you recommend to someone who's looking to follow a somewhat similar role?

matthewrodier4 karma

I just bought a camera, learned how to use it, and flew to Hong Kong. That might not be an ideal way to do it, because the learning curve for my work was extremely steep, but it worked reasonably well. The next time something big happens in your town or city, whatever that is, take pictures of it. If you think they are good enough you can try to sell them to a local outlet. The best way ultimately is to start shooting, a lot. You may get an opportunity to show someone your work at some point and being a skilled photographer goes a long way, it's pretty much skilled photographer + person committed to the truth = competent photojournalist.

selfdrivingcarrot0 karma

Have you had personal interactions with the police during these protests in Hong Kong? How do they feel about the situations?

matthewrodier5 karma

Some were polite and professional, some weren't. I answered this a few times.

silentwinter-2 karma

Do you think the timing of the Covid pandemic was a bit too convenient?

matthewrodier15 karma

I think it was convenient, and the Hong Kong government certainly exploited health measures to stop people from gathering to protest, but I don't think they released it to stop the protests if that's what your'e implying.

SilverBeaver21-7 karma

How good were the tricks and tactics the protestors used against the police? Aren't CIA handbooks extremely useful?

matthewrodier11 karma

You people act like they were blowing up bridges with blocks of C4. They had shields made out of road signs and duct tape and molotov cocktails, one of the crudest weapons possible. The CIA was handing out shoulder fired missiles in Afghanistan, in the 70's.

SilverBeaver21-10 karma

But because you didn't answer the question, fair enough, I ll ask another one. Were there many protestors waving US and UK flags?

matthewrodier4 karma

Nah I'm just gonna block you because you're annoying. I hope you have a miserable day.

SoR86-9 karma

Is what happening dictatorship on a prime level even tho we live in 2022 and what do you think needs to be done for people to be more involved and help at the situation ?

matthewrodier3 karma

This isn't really English. My apologies if it is not your first language.