I recall my chief reporter saying that a journalist must have a sense of news; however I could not understand the meaning at that time. Soon, I realised that anything around us could be newsworthy depending on a journalist’s observation and his curiosity to discover the story behind it.
I always ask my students to explore the issues mentioned in the daily news. By reading the newspapers, they can enhance their horizons in searching for information and gain a better understanding about an incident, as well as improve their critical thinking and observation skills.
Recently, my students were busy sharing their news interview experiences in class, such as their investigation on the city councils’ response to public complaints, mobile phone recycling and the comparison of price items from various supermarkets.
I found that my students are now more confident and are able to answer my questions very well. Their internship experiences have given them more courage to interview politicians and conduct street interviews, apart from attending press conferences.
The most important thing is that they have learned to reflect on their mistakes and are more aware of producing a balanced news story by gathering multiple sources.
It is a great relief to see the changes in these students. People need to learn from their mistakes and continue to grow mentally and in knowledge, and this is especially important for budding journalists.
As journalists work at the forefront of society, they face all sorts of unexpected situations which could be very challenging. A good journalist knows how to deal with these situations based on his experience and knowledge.
I also tell my students to walk out and look for news as journalists will not be able to produce news by only staying in the press room. In order to encourage students to conduct news interviews and reports, the college’s news department runs the Han Chiang News website to publish students’ works. All the students’ works are submitted to their lecturers to be edited before being published.
Many journalists have told me that they found journalism students who possess experience in news interviews prior to their internship tend to fall comfortably into the busy workplace of a press room within a short time and they usually finish their work independently.
It is evident that my students have shown stark improvements in their networking skills on top of their journalistic skills. They can now produce better quality news stories for Han Chiang News, creating a win-win situation.
As journalism is a fast-paced field, it is important that a journalist stays humble and is always prepared to recognise his/her weaknesses.
When I look into my students’ innocent faces, I continue to ask myself: How can I help them go further?
The writer, Ms Kek Phaik Yong is the Head of Journalism of Han Chiang College. This contribution from Ms Kek was first published in Chinese .