Quality journalism vital amid tech changes

SPH scholarships for undergraduate studies were awarded to (from left): Mr Aqil Hamzah, Mr Chua Wei Qian, Ms Zhang Qianxue and Ms Crystal Heng. Two will be heading to NTU and two to NUS.
SPH scholarships for undergraduate studies were awarded to (from left): Mr Aqil Hamzah, Mr Chua Wei Qian, Ms Zhang Qianxue and Ms Crystal Heng. Two will be heading to NTU and two to NUS.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Accuracy, objectivity important, says SPH chairman at annual scholarship ceremony

It is more important than ever that journalists report accurately and objectively given the upheaval from social media sites like Facebook and the increasing frequency of fake news, said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) chairman Lee Boon Yang yesterday.

Dr Lee said at the annual scholarship award ceremony at SPH News Centre: "The new technologies such as artificial intelligence, very powerful algorithms and tools like data analytics are in fact, day by day, changing the type of content that gets wider circulation.

"SPH will always uphold the highest standard of quality journalism, being able to provide accurate, reliable and properly researched and edited news content."

He added that the company will transform its core media business, citing the first ever SPH Innovation Day held early this month.

It allowed staff to pitch new ideas to senior management after having undergone an accelerated innovation training programme in design thinking, customer-centricity and digital proficiency.

The firm took another step in developing a new generation of journalists yesterday by handing out SPH scholarships for undergraduate studies to Mr Aqil Hamzah, 21, Ms Zhang Qianxue, 20, Ms Crystal Heng, 19, and Mr Chua Wei Qian, 21.

Of the four, two will be heading to Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and two will be going to National University of Singapore (NUS).

Mr Aqil, who will be pursuing communication studies at NTU next month, said his six-month internship at The New Paper this year had affirmed his passion for journalism.

"I really enjoy the job because every single day, the things you do are totally different," he added. "So the experience is always fresh and you get to listen to new people talk, and hear their stories."

One memorable assignment came last month when he travelled with a colleague to Seremban in Malaysia's Negeri Sembilan state to cover a wake.

The parents of two young children had been killed in a car accident in Johor.

Mr Aqil said that the journey there took more than seven hours due to numerous traffic jams. It was also the first time he had interviewed people at a funeral.

"When speaking to the family members, you have to be very considerate because it's a very sensitive issue," he added.

The Lim Kim San Memorial Scholarships were also handed out yesterday with 11 university students awarded.

The bond-free scholarship was launched in 2006 to help students of modest means pursue local undergrad studies in languages, linguistics and humanities.

Another 14 scholarships were given out to the children of SPH staff and newspaper vendors for junior college, polytechnic or university studies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Quality journalism vital amid tech changes'. Print Edition | Subscribe