For ST, it's about fast and accurate news

Straits Times news editor Marc Lim addressing some 200 people at the askST@NLB talk yesterday. He also tackled topics such as fake news and maintaining a newspaper's credibility.
Straits Times news editor Marc Lim addressing some 200 people at the askST@NLB talk yesterday. He also tackled topics such as fake news and maintaining a newspaper's credibility.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Vital for newsroom to strike balance between being first and getting it right: ST news editor

In a span of a few hours, an online report about a kidnapping scare went through five headline changes and 35 revisions as updates came in hard and fast.

What was initially reported as rumours of a kidnapping at two international schools on Jan 17 eventually turned out to involve a man who had no ill intentions.

The process of clarifying the truth was a frantic one at The Straits Times (ST), with constant revisions to the report as readers deserved updates as quickly and as accurately as possible, said ST news editor Marc Lim.

Added Mr Lim: "In the digital age, with people telling you what they hear about, the question then is what do you do with that information."

He was speaking to around 200 people about the balance between speed and accuracy in news reporting at a public talk in the Central Public Library yesterday.

The talk, the latest in the    askST @ NLB   sessions, was organised jointly by ST and the National Library Board (NLB). It touched on news gathering, reporting and story-telling in the digital age.

Mr Lim, who started out as an ST sports reporter 18 years ago, has been the paper's news editor for the past two years, guiding reporters on how to put their stories together and making editorial decisions.

During the 90-minute session yesterday, the 42-year-old addressed a myriad of topics including fake news, protecting a news organisation's credibility, and maintaining its edge in the face of increased competition.

Mr Lim also fielded a number of questions, such as what defines a news story, and how the news industry is dealing with a manpower crunch. Someone from the audience wanted to know how newspapers got insider information leading to exclusive stories.

Mr Lim credited that to a mix of experience and speaking to a range of contacts.

He said: "It takes years of cultivating contacts, of talking to more than one source and of talking to a different array of people."

Business consultant Low Yee Chang, 54, who was at the talk, said he found the session insightful. He was there with his two daughters, aged 17 and 21.

Said Mr Low: "My family and I read The Straits Times every day, and today's talk was good because it allowed me to hear from one of the people behind the stories."

The talk was streamed live on the Rings.TV application and it attracted more than 1,250 views.

The live streaming video can be replayed via the Rings.TV app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, or Google Play Store.

The next    askST @ NLB    session will be held on Sept 28.

Travel correspondent Lee Siew Hua will talk about how to plan a vacation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'For ST, it's about fast and accurate news'. Print Edition | Subscribe