New media academy will tie up with international media training institutions

Mr Paul Jacob (second from left) at ST newsroom’s central hub, where the key editors of all the sections are stationed, on Feb 1, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The academy set up by SPH Media Trust (SMT) to train its journalists will tie up with international media training institutions such as the Poynter Institute in Florida and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University to offer programmes and fellowships to journalists here, said SMT's English, Malay and Tamil Media Group editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez.

He added that the plan in the longer term is for the SPH Media Academy to extend its programmes to the whole media industry in Singapore, and also to some journalists around the region.

Mr Fernandez was giving an update on the work of SMT since it was set up on Dec 1 when he stressed that talent development was one of the key focuses for the not-for-profit entity.

Citing The Straits Times' senior health correspondent Salma Khalik, he said she had written authoritative pieces on the Covid-19 pandemic which were widely read, helping to raise awareness about the issues and also counter misinformation.

He added that she had built up her knowledge and insights on the subject from covering the health beat for many years, and said The Straits Times would need journalists like her who can cover issues from climate change to trade and technology.

"We must keep our people, train them, build that expertise so that we have the ability to write these authoritative pieces," Mr Fernandez said.

In this regard, the new academy will play an important role in training journalists, especially in helping them hone their digital skills.

Describing the academy as a huge investment, Mr Fernandez said that for a start, the academy will review and revamp all of SMT's existing training programmes to make sure that they are relevant in this digital age.

Veteran journalist Paul Jacob, who is deputy editor of The Straits Times, has been appointed dean of the academy.

Mr Jacob, who has covered defence and was also a foreign correspondent in Indonesia in the 1990s before becoming an editor on the foreign and political desks, will have a team made up of representatives from all of SMT's newsrooms.

Mr Fernandez said this will ensure that all newsrooms have training programmes tailored to fit their needs.

Giving a glimpse into the academy's plans, he said that it will partner with the best international media training institutions to offer programmes and fellowships for journalists.

SPH Brightcove Video
SPH Media Trust will continue to focus on building up its talent pool and technology capabilities as it pursues its mission to deliver quality, credible journalism, said chairman Khaw Boon Wan at a media briefing on Jan 27.

The academy has signed an agreement with the Poynter Institute in Florida and is firming up an agreement with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University to participate in its fellowship programmes.

It will also build on existing partnerships with the World Association of News Publishers and Adjunct Professor Mario Garcia of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, as well as work with local institutions such as Nanyang Technological University, the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and the Civil Service College.

For a start, the academy will focus on training journalists from SMT, but it will "bring in others and grow that as we go along", said Mr Fernandez.

He added: "The point is about using this to not just skill up our people but help develop the whole media industry, the whole ecosystem that we have in Singapore, and also bring in journalists from around the region for some of these programmes, and then form relationships and partnerships with them."

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