The role of journalists in the digital age

Journalism scholarship recipients (back row, from left) Clement Yong, 21; Ng Keng Gene, 21; (front row) Miss Wong Shiying, 19; Miss Ang Qing, 19; Miss Jessie Lim, 19; Miss Lee Geng Wei, 19; and Miss Zhang Xi Ying, 19.
Journalism scholarship recipients (back row, from left) Clement Yong, 21; Ng Keng Gene, 21; (front row) Miss Wong Shiying, 19; Miss Ang Qing, 19; Miss Jessie Lim, 19; Miss Lee Geng Wei, 19; and Miss Zhang Xi Ying, 19.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

No change in basic role despite upheavals, says SPH chief at scholarship ceremony

Digital advancements have drastically changed consumer habits, but the role of journalists remains the same. This was the message from Dr Lee Boon Yang, chairman of media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and SPH Foundation, at the annual joint scholarship awards ceremony at SPH News Centre in Toa Payoh yesterday.

This year, there are seven recipients of the SPH journalism scholarship, which recognises academic and co-curricular excellence, as well as aptitude for journalism.

Dr Lee, who was the guest of honour, said that media publishers, including SPH, face new competition to remain relevant and retain their audience. He stressed the need for SPH to update its media products regularly, and emphasised the importance of multi-platform services.

"We offer printed newspapers and magazines. We also serve online editions for laptops and notebooks, and mobile editions for smartphones and tablets. Besides our apps, we are also present on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter," he said.

He cited the recent coup in Turkey as an event where near real-time updates of news and information kept the public informed.

Despite changes and upheavals, the fundamental role of journalists remains unchanged, he noted.

Journalists are supposed to create informative news stories that resonate with readers, and interpret and make sense of issues for them, he said.

A total of 16 scholarships for junior college, polytechnic and university studies were also given out to the children of staff and newspaper vendors.

There was also a record 15 recipients of the Lim Kim San Memorial Scholarship - a bond-free scholarship that funds the studies of students from modest families who are studying languages, linguistics and humanities at local universities.

Mr Clement Yong, 21, who received the journalism scholarship, said moving to a digital platform can bring news to an audience in more innovative ways. "It's challenging, but the balance between entertainment and quality journalism is an interesting one," said Mr Yong, who did a four-month internship with The Straits Times.

Miss Jessie Lim, 19, another recipient, felt that traditional media must evolve to cater to a younger audience seeking instant gratification. She said: "The challenge is striking a balance between on-the-go news that breaks instantaneously, and more in-depth coverage that requires more processing time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'The role of journalists in the digital age'. Print Edition | Subscribe