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Award winner credits late mum for early taste of journalism

Journalist of the Year Joyce Lim (right) with some fellow winners from The Straits Times: (from left) Mr Reme Ahmad (Special Award of the Year for Consistently Good Work), Mr Toh Yong Chuan and Mr Derrick Ho (Special Award of the Year for Excellence)
Journalist of the Year Joyce Lim (right) with some fellow winners from The Straits Times: (from left) Mr Reme Ahmad (Special Award of the Year for Consistently Good Work), Mr Toh Yong Chuan and Mr Derrick Ho (Special Award of the Year for Excellence), Mr Stanley Ho (Headline of the Year), Ms Ashleigh Sim (Feature Picture of the Year) and Ms Radha Basu (Feature of the Year). --  ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

WHEN she was six years old, Straits Times correspondent Joyce Lim accompanied her late mother on her newspaper delivery rounds every morning.

Madam Tan Poh Tee did this to earn extra cash for the family. Along the way, she would read the front-page stories of Chinese and English newspapers, including The Straits Times, to her daughter every morning.

Yesterday, her little girl won the top accolade, Journalist of the Year, at the Singapore Press Holdings English and Malay Newspapers Division's annual awards ceremony.

Ms Lim, 39, who broke the story of the high-profile row that erupted between the Aljunied- Hougang-Punggol East Town Council and stallholders at a Bedok hawker centre over the cleaning of the facility, paid tribute to her mother as she accepted the prize.

"When I became a journalist, my mother would constantly ask me what would be on the front page of the newspaper the next day. Some of my early scoops came from her - she would help me get tip-offs by talking to people she met in the market. Wherever she is, I am sure she has been keeping my byline file for the past 12 years."

Ms Lim's mother died at age 54, from cancer, in 2002. Her father died when Ms Lim was just a few months old.

Ms Lim joined The New Paper as a photographer in 1997 and turned to writing three years later. She moved to The Straits Times in 2012 and has covered everything from the Malaysian elections to the Super Typhoon Haiyan disaster for the paper.

Said Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez: "Joyce brings in scoops, covers stories in the field from the haze in Sumatra to the tragedy in Tacloban, and does it in print, online and videos. She deserves to be Journalist of the Year, and we're really proud to have her on our team."

Her award was among nine which The Straits Times clinched yesterday. A total of 15 awards were given out.

Correspondent Radha Basu's special report on the difficulties faced by people who care for senior citizens at home took home the Feature of the Year prize.

Ms Basu, 43, said: "The people I interviewed shared a lot of intimate family details. It was very emotional for some of them and I also had to persuade them to be photographed and to appear on video."

Last year's Young Journalist of the Year Rachel Chang won another top honour yesterday: Commentary of the Year for a piece that argued Singapore had reached a stage of development where it should wean itself off the Great Man Leadership style associated with its early years and founding fathers.

Photojournalist Ashleigh Sim, 37, who won Feature Picture of the Year, said she had intended to take a posed portrait of a daughter hugging her disabled mother, but ended up capturing a candid moment when she was carrying her instead.

"It was a poignant moment; the mother had an expression on her face that looked like she was half grimacing, half smiling," she said. "Both women were so happy-go-lucky despite their challenging circumstances."

The Business Times was the other big winner at the awards as Ms Andrea Soh was named Young Journalist of the Year. Its motoring correspondent Samuel Ee won Story of the Year for his scoop on how new car loan curbs were about to be introduced.

Ms Soh, 27, said: "There is no other job that opens doors for one to meet people from all types of backgrounds, to listen to their point of view, and to learn new things every day."

The New Paper won Infographics of the Year and News Picture of the Year, while Malay newspaper Berita Minggu took Special Award of the Year for Excellence.

cherylw@sph.com.sg

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