Photojournalism – Not what you think

By Chiang Chee Keat

Striving in the 21st century, media practitioners especially photojournalists play a vital role in making sure the public receives the right and accurate message through a mixture of visuals and words. One has to know that visuals such as photographs and words should complement each other. Although there is a saying, a photograph is worth a thousand words; however, without a good caption or cutline, the photograph will have no meaning. It is always sad that the public thinks that photojournalism is a laid-back job and needs only to deal with photograph-taking. This is a false perception whereby a photojournalist’s job is more than that.



Take for example a photojournalist assigned to an evacuated town to capture the aftermath of a catastrophe such as an earthquake. A photograph of a calendar captured in a victim’s house can be very meaningful. It tells the date when the earthquake struck the place and that victims were forced to flee for their lives, thus leaving their homes behind. This photograph will need words to describe and explain the incident. In this case, a caption – not just an ordinary caption, a good caption. Without good caption to comprehend the photograph, it will be just a plain photography of a calendar.

Besides, the work of photojournalists is not as simple as taking photographs and writing captions. This is because they always find themselves caught in an ethical dilemma during assignments. When accidents happen, aid should be provided first before taking photographs. This is always a major issue faced by photojournalists. For instance, the famous photojournalist Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Prize recipient for feature photography, depicting Sudan’s famine in the year of 1993, caught himself in a situation on whether he should provide assistance or take photographs. He chose the latter and he captured the photograph of a vulture preying on a hungry kid and he suffered from his decision as many criticised his actions. Three months after he received the Pulitzer Prize, he committed suicide as a result of depression.

All the above make the work as the lecturer for the course of photojournalism interesting yet challenging. The first and foremost is to change the perception of students towards photojournalism. Therefore, during classes, students are exposed to how photojournalists work. They are taught real case studies that happen in Malaysia and overseas. This is also to prepare them with what is coming ahead if they were to venture into photojournalism.

Developing good photography skills is the next thing to look into. It is essential that the students are taught with the proper techniques in handling a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). Thus, learning how to deal with shutter-speed, aperture and ISO in tutorial classes is inevitable. The teaching of basic composition, lighting and close-up also helps students to capture good news photographs. Only after that, students are given the chance to practise their skills through a series of outings.

Lastly, learning to write good captions is important. In this segment, students are taught on how to write good captions for photographs. For this, students in the class are given ample exercises in writing a good caption. They are also taught the dos and don’ts when writing captions. As the result, they can write better captions rather than just stating what is already obvious to the readers.


Knowing when to work independently as a student

By Wahida Asrani

When I was an undergraduate student years ago, I always had problems convincing my lecturers to agree with my views, especially on the projects or assignments. They would agree with your ideas if you came up with solid justifications and reject some, which they thought were not good enough. It was hard to meet them very often as they were busy with classes or meetings, hence it left me with no choice but to accept their views although I felt I could proceed with mine if I had more opportunities to consult them. At that time, rather than being spoon-fed, students worked hard to ‘impress’ lecturers with their own ideas, but without ignoring the lecturers’ views to improve their work.   

It was about 10 years ago. Now, being a lecturer myself, I could see the patterns have changed. Students would either solely rely on lecturers for every single thing (very often I would encounter this scenario: Miss, I can’t find the information!; How to cite this page?; Can you check my assignment draft? So how-ah, Miss?) or totally ignore you and do everything on their own (which is good, but practically not all the time).

This is the dilemma faced by many lecturers – it is either we overdo it, or not give enough advice. As much as we want to give the best to the students, there is always a limit to everything. I often hear my students complaining about some lecturers, whom for them are hard to ‘approach’ or ‘not helpful’. For me, this is a common misconception about lecturers.


Wahida was the lecturer advisor to students who organised Pace of Hope, a PR project


Our role is not only to give lectures, but to take note on the students’ progress. We try our best to equip students with skills that they can apply in the future. If you encounter any problems with your studies, do not hesitate to talk to your lecturer, or the ideal person is your academic advisor. However when it comes to assignments, it is your responsibility to deliver the best. It is good to check if you are on the right track, but not all elements in your assignments must be consulted, as it will definitely leave lecturers with nothing much to evaluate your work.

On a different note, it is great to see students who are independent. These students are those who will just come to see the lecturers when it’s time to hand-in the assignments. I always encourage students to stand on their own two feet, but if you are not confident with whatever you are doing, do seek advice from your lecturers or else you won’t get a ‘pleasant outcome’. However, do not be overconfident to the extent that you feel lecturers’ advice is not needed, especially if you are working on big projects or events, which require students to always keep their lecturer-advisor updated on many aspects. A lecturer-advisor plays a big role in advising students to ensure the project is adhered to the college or university’s policies and other areas of concerned, which students may overlook.

I believe today’s youngsters are wise enough to make some decisions on their own, rather than depending on other people. Trust yourself more, but at times, do seek advice from the right people if you need to, or if you are supposed to. This applies in your college life as well.

Celebrities in college

Local artists 东于哲 (Thomas and Jack) conducted a sharing session at Han Chiang College and even had the opportunity to meet their fans. Han Chiang News did an exclusive interview with the talented duo, who shared their experiences and challenges faced in the entertainment industry them.


Han Chiang College occasionally organises meet and greet sessions with celebrities. Students do not only get to meet their idols, but also find themselves involved in various productions with the stars.

A visit from Yuan Ze University

A total of 25 lecturers and students from Yuan Ze University Taiwan visited Han Chiang College on 14 July 2016. The business students were given a tour around campus and also shared their university life and culture with Han Chiang students.


Han Chiang College receives many visitors from universities abroad where both parties often partake in knowledge sharing and discuss the possibility of future collaborations among students and staff. Why not check out the School of Business & Management for more course information.  

New rule on latecomers for final examination

By Chow Yong Neng, PhD 

exam-2We know that students who are taking written final examination in the examination venue have one common objective: to do their best to score as many marks as possible. They have the right to expect the examination venue to provide them with a peace and quiet environment throughout the duration of their final written examination.

However, there are many instances of disruption caused by late-comers to such examination. It is with the interest of the greater body of students taking their written final examination in mind that I have initiated a revision on the rules and regulations to deal with late-comers.

At the heart of the consideration before this change of the rule on late-comers was finalised was how best to impose penalties for late-comers to deter tardiness and yet not to give an impression of the College being too rigid in dealing with this problem.  We had decided to empower the Chief Invigilator to decide on all cases where the late-comers arrived at the examination venue beyond the 45 minutes maximum limit.

If students arrive late for an examination because of circumstances beyond their control such as being involved in a traffic accident, having their vehicles breakdown etc. they will have the chance to show evidence of their misfortune to the Chief Invigilator. The directive to the Chief Invigilator is simple: we err on the side of compassion and shall allow late-comers to enter the examination venue if they (late-comers) are able to show even one piece of evident in support of their case.

However, in fairness to the rest of the candidates taking the same paper, no extra time shall be given to any late-comers being allowed to sit for their examination regardless of which category of penalty that these students will receive. In some cases the Chief Invigilator will use a quarantine area for the late-comers.

As in all cases, there is an avenue to appeal. In this case an Examination Appeal Board has been set up to hear all appeal cases prior to the main Examination Board meetings. Any finding of the Examination Appeal Board shall be considered as final and not subject to further appeal. Hence students who need to file an appeal shall need to adhere to the timeline for such a process.

In view of the power of electronic gadgets and mobile phones today, we have now disallowed the use of all electronic devices apart from such equipment as calculators of the authorised models into the examination venue.

Please refer to the email sent to all users on July 14, 2016 for further information on the new examination rules and regulations.

To all diploma students taking their final examination I wish you good luck!