Journalism is harder than it looks, participants of the National Youth Media Competition 2018 said yesterday, after just the first leg of the 24-hour challenge.
The competition, aimed at giving students a grounding in media literacy and training aspiring young journalists in a newsroom setting, is organised by The Straits Times and presented by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
During the event, which ends today at 10am, 13 teams from 11 secondary schools pitted their journalistic instincts against one another. They attended a mock media conference, interviewed an actor and shot a photo essay, among other things.
They had to put together a three-page print newsletter, a news video of 90 seconds to 120 seconds, as well as file breaking news and social media updates - all based on the assignments given.
Most crucially, none of them knew what assignments to expect until the day itself. And after the first assignment - a media conference with Fei Yue Community Services and the NCPG on how gaming can give rise to the initial seeds of problem gambling - participants who were interviewed said they realised they had to multitask and think on their feet.
Cayden Soh, 13, from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, was taking photos with a digital SLR camera while filming the press conference with his smartphone. "It's a lot of things to think of at once," said the first-year student.
About the National Youth Media Competition
The competition aims to promote media literacy and train aspiring journalists. Open to Secondary 1 to Secondary 5 students or the equivalent, the competition this year drew 57 entries from 34 schools. Thirteen teams from 11 schools, such as Greenridge Secondary, Swiss Cottage Secondary and Yishun Town Secondary, made the cut for the 24-hour final.
The event was known as the National Schools Newspaper Competition when it began in 2005, and teams each produced a four-page print publication. It was revamped in 2013 to include multimedia components and became the National Youth Media Competition.
It is among a series of events driven by the ST Schools team which produces weekly publications, Little Red Dot and IN, for primary and secondary schools. The team's other outreach programmes include The Big Quiz for pre-university students, and training workshops for students and teachers.
For more information on ST Schools' publications, outreach programmes and events, go to www.straits times.com/STSchools
Hwa Chong International School's Emmanuel Mok, 15, struggled with the lighting levels from the back of the room while shooting photos of the event. Quick to react, the Secondary 4 student decided to climb onto a stool to shoot. He said: "This (job) is just for 24 hours so it is still manageable, but in the long run it can be quite exhausting and may take a toll on your health."
The cub news hounds also got to meet 28-year-old actor Joshua Tan, who played the role of Ken Chow in the Ah Boys To Men movie series.
Tan, who has a diploma in mass communications from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and majored in communications at university, turned the tables on the participants, interviewing them before the official interview began. In return, participants peppered him with questions on issues ranging from his parents' influence on him, to his teachers in school and his thoughts on being a youth ambassador for the NCPG.
Tan said of his experience with the students: "It is heartening to see such budding journalists. I believe in print journalism and I prefer it to citizen journalism. I think journalism emphasises accuracy and journalists are trained to ensure that."
Ms Serene Luo, editor of ST Schools, which is spearheading the event, said: "The participants were very serious in doing the best job they could. At the press conference, I continually heard shutter sounds of cameras and participants flipping the pages of their notebooks as they scribbled notes. I hope they won't be buried under the barrage of footage and notes they have."