Diane Stormont (1959-2012)

Diane Stormont (MJ 2001) was a pioneer in teaching what was then known as “new media,” integrating emerging digital technology with good-old-fashioned journalism. A beloved teacher, she was much respected for her dedication to students and her innovative way of teaching.

She was also an entrepreneur, who launched a media company years before the start-up culture became vogue.     

After a decades-long stint as a journalist in Asia, Diane started teaching part-time at the JMSC in 2008 before becoming a full-time senior lecturer in August 2009.  

At the JMSC, she also served as director of the JMSC’s digital media programme, keeping abreast of changes in technology and updating the curriculum — after spending years training herself in online media skills.

“Under her leadership, mobile reporting and live reporting have become integral parts of our curriculum,” said Prof Ying Chan, then director of the JMSC. 

Diane began teaching at the JMSC in August 2008

Diane Stormont at Chek Lap Kok Airport’s construction site in 1993 (Photo: Kees Metselaar)

Diane led the JMSC’s Media Academy for Pros (MAP), a summer programme for journalists, other working professionals and high school students keen to expand their media skills and knowledge. It offered various courses, including Basic Online Media Skills and  Internet Strategy for News Organisations.

“I witnessed all the students fall in love with Diane’s tough yet encouraging teaching style, her unapologetically comedic approach to sharing life lessons, but more importantly her never-ending support for current and former students,” recalled Kevin Lau, her assistant and close friend. 

Born in Scotland in 1959, Diane spent the first five years of her life in Hong Kong while her father captained ships for Jardines. She began her journalism career in Hong Kong in the early 1980s, working on a selection of titles, from the legendary shipping publication Lloyd’s List to Cathay Pacific’s in-flight magazine Emphasis. She was the South China Morning Post’s shipping correspondent for two years from 1983.

She joined Reuters news agency in 1986 in Hong Kong. She was transferred to Seoul as a correspondent the following year and moved back to Hong Kong in 1990 as deputy bureau chief. 

Throughout her decade-long career at Reuters, Diane became not only a respected journalist but also a mentor to younger reporters. Sharp-witted and dogged, she was sent to conflict zones, such as covering Sri Lanka’s civil war.

“She developed an aversion to tear gas in Seoul, to teenagers with automatic weapons in the Philippines, and to thugs, whether uniformed, sunglassed, besuited and/or armed with guns or writs,” wrote her former Reuters colleague Jonathan Sharp.

As the Hong Kong bureau chief — her final post for Reuters — she reported on her favourite story: the Hong Kong handover to China in 1997.

Diane (fourth from right in the back row) and then HKU Vice-Chancellor Lap-Chee Tsui (second from left) with JMSC students and staff covering the event “A Night at the Science Museum” in November 2011

Diane’s photo at the FCC in Hong Kong

Diane served as president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club in 1992-93 and the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club in 1998-99 — the latter role coinciding with her work as the Hong Kong stringer for London’s Daily Telegraph.

She went on to co-found a media services company, HongkongNOW, which produced books such as corporate histories of Dairy Farm and Jebsen, as well as the award-winning in-house magazine for Hutchison Port Holdings, HPH Worldwide.

While still working as a journalist, she also pursued an MJ degree at the JMSC, as a member of the first cohort that graduated in 2001.

An animal lover, Diane gave immense time and support to the SPCA, providing sanctuary to countless numbers of cats, dogs and even two hedgehogs at her large home on Lantau.

After a long fight with cancer, Diane died on 14 March 2012 at the age of 52. Her mother Elizabeth and siblings Andrew and Katie were at her side when she passed away at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. 

Remembering Diane Stormont

By Kevin Lau, Diane Stormont’s Assistant, 2008-2012

I’m not sure if it was her demeanor, the intense look from her veteran journalist eyes, or her challenging to understand Scottish accent, Diane Stormont would quickly strike fear into the hearts of all the new students. This was true with each incoming cohort. I witnessed this. Equal with graduate students and undergraduates, Diane’s intensity was felt. 

However, by the time the students left Diane’s class or graduated, I witnessed all the students fall in love with Diane’s tough yet encouraging teaching style, her unapologetically comedic approach to sharing life lessons, but more importantly her never-ending support for current and former students.

Diane had a unique approach to coaching students. She cared about the results. Accuracy mattered. Good reporting mattered. She never wavered from what good journalism should be. But what she wanted to see the most in her students is their improvement. Are they getting better? She would invite students to her office to go through their work in detail, line by line. She would show students how they could do better from week one, regardless whether the assignment was a C+ or a B. I would see students walk out of her office relieved, filled with confidence that they were on the right path. 

As her assistant for four years, I learned more about life from her than my college degrees. We would spend numerous evenings hanging out at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club talking about life, society, and good wine and food. She was obsessed with sea urchin linguine. I have yet to try the dish myself.

Diane’s accomplishments are legendary. I don’t have the word count to tell you. They’re well known. Just read a sample of them here.

As many of you know, she didn’t care much about her life accomplishments. They didn’t matter to her. What mattered to her are the well-being of her family, her students, and the rest of society. 


Diane and good friend Jonathan Sharp led the JMSC team covering the International Media Conference in 2010

Diane with Prof Tsui at the event “A Night at the Science Museum” in November 2011

Diane served as director of the JMSC’s digital media programme