A last-minute surge of interest for the National Youth Media Competition has led its organisers to extend its closing deadline from June 30 to July 13.
Organised by The Straits Times and presented by the National Council on Problem Gambling, the competition allows Secondary 1 to 5 students to experience first-hand what it is like to be a journalist in a modern newsroom.
Ms Serene Luo, editor of The Straits Times Schools department, which is running the event, said: "Over the holidays, we received many queries from schools which are keen to take part in the competition, as well as entries from interested schools. We hope the extension in deadline can help all schools in refining their entries."
Ministry of Education (MOE) secondary schools, or the secondary section of full schools under the MOE, can field teams of six students. Teams will be shortlisted based on their submissions of school publications, online newsletters, radio broadcasts, podcasts or videos.
Schools can send multiple teams.
Ms Hanna Maryam, 35, a teacher from Evergreen Secondary School, said students could learn a lot from the competition, including hands-on journalism skills like identifying relevant parties to interview, as well as editorial design work such as creating the layout of news pages.
"They really do get a holistic picture of what goes on in the newsroom," she said.
Sherilynn Tan, 15, from Holy Innocents' High School which has formed four teams, said she is excited to learn how to pull together photo essays. She said: "I'm sure these skills will help no matter what job I get in the future. The most important thing is learning how to communicate."
Shortlisted teams will take part in a 24-hour challenge which simulates the newsroom experience of journalists. The teams must complete mystery assignments announced only on the day of the competition - by deadline.
These assignments may include attending a press conference, conducting interviews, producing content for online and social media, or designing the layout for a print story that they write.
This year's winning team of young newshounds will receive a job-shadowing stint with the ST Schools team - which produces weekly publications IN for secondary schools and Little Red Dot for primary schools - as well as $3,000 worth of prizes. The first runner-up team will receive $2,000 in prizes and the second runner-up, $1,000 in prizes.
Teams shortlisted for the final will receive training on selected dates next month. The 24-hour challenge takes place on Sept 4 and 5. Schools can visit http://str.sg/nymc or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for competition details.