Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Experience as an Intern Journalist at SPH

Everyone thinks he or she understands what it means to be a journalist.

It's like those “What they think I do” memes (see below).

Being in Business School's Mass Media Management (JAE course code C93) opened my eyes to the importance of every aspect of media.  We had to do a lot of writing, and even had to pretend to be reporters in a mock press conference. We also came up with our own magazines and had to complete articles under a time limit, detailing facts from a fictional case.

I had always admired journalists since I was really young. They command true respect. I could not fathom the hardships they have to go through, especially foreign correspondents in war-torn countries.

Then I had the privilege of interning at Singapore Press Holdings – The New Paper. Yet nothing - not a thing - prepares you for what you are about to face.

You get thrown to the wolves immediately (they don’t treat you like a newbie)
You have to accept it when things don’t go your way
You run around entire malls/streets/HDB flats trying to find a story
You talk to all kinds of people, in English or Mandarin (I knew next to none)
You’re constantly calling people to check facts
You don't get to pick your stories, and a lot of the ideas you pitch get rejected
You get chided, scolded, and nagged at like you're three-year-old
You have to work around a daily deadline and sometimes go home past midnight

This may sound extremely disheartening, but only if you look at it from that way.

You do not sit behind a desk doing grunt work. You are out there every day trying to tell a meaningful story
You understand what it means to truly persevere
You meet amazing individuals who do not turn you away when you truly need them
My understanding of Mandarin and Malay improved!
You learn to be thorough with your work
You still get sent out to write on spectacular events and speak to A-list celebrities and A-list regular folks
If you do not learn from criticism you can never truly grow
That rush of adrenaline, to beat the clock, is all part of the fun

The training I received from NYP also worked out well when I had to take my own photos and edit a video interview with zero cutaways.

What makes this sacrifice ultimately worth it?
A by-line in the newspapers (you may read my articles here).

It’s your name, with the words you toiled over for hours, and perhaps pictures you took while the photographers were all busy.

It may be seem like nothing, but to me it meant everything. Making the front page is a sweet bonus too.

Despite all the blood, sweat (lots of that) and tears (yes, I cried on occasion), I have learnt so much.

I was honestly shocked at how my time spent interning had changed me. I pushed myself harder at SPH than anywhere else.

Me (top row, extreme left) with the first batch of interns I got to know 

Clarity is key. Being backed into a corner, with a “deadline monster” breathing down my neck, made me write faster and think clearer. And speed is everything in news.

I had to be adaptable and flexible enough to think on my feet because during work you may be thrown any random personality (to interview) or event (to cover).

Honestly, the friends you make will enhance your experience because no one else can relate better to the work you are doing than the other interns can.

For some, it may be the last thing in this world they would ever do again. But there are those who think: There is nothing else in this world I would rather do.

By Jade Teo, Diploma in Mass Media Management

For 18 years, Jade has been tirelessly working on ways to cure “boredom”. She tried watching chefs like Nigella Lawson on TV, creating a solar-powered boat with little success, taking a literature trip to UK with friends, riding in the front seat of an ambulance and a fire truck, but nothing worked as well as her first adventure - writing. Without it and her books, she wouldn’t have been cured

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