SPH Media Trust launches media academy to hone skills of journalists

(From left) Ms Lee Huay Leng, editor-in-chief of SMT’s Chinese Media Group; SMT chairman Khaw Boon Wan; SMT deputy chief and incoming CEO Teo Lay Lim and SPH Media Academy dean Paul Jacob at the launch of the academy on Feb 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - SPH Media Trust (SMT) on Wednesday (Feb 23) launched a media academy to train new hires and help its current journalists upgrade their skills.

The new SPH Media Academy is working with veterans in the media industry as well as international institutions such as the Poynter Institute in Florida, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and the Tsinghua University School of Journalism and Communication to offer courses to local journalists.

While the academy will initially be open only to SMT staff, the plan is to eventually make the courses available to journalists from other media companies, including those in Singapore and the region.

"I hope it can be a good platform for us to create a regional network to deal with our counterparts and get to know one another, because everybody is going through the same challenges as we do," said SMT chairman Khaw Boon Wan during a launch event held at the SPH Studios.

"They are also being disrupted by the digital revolution and they are also finding their way on how to be a trusted source against misinformation. Everybody has relevant experience to share."

The courses on offer currently include core programmes for SMT staff such as media law and the essentials of digital publishing, as well as a range of courses that focus on producing quality journalism, such as fact-checking and reporting on data.

There are also courses on other aspects of the news business such as audience strategy, multimedia production, people management, and understanding government affairs, economics and geopolitics.

New hires will be required to undergo a foundation programme in their first year, which will equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs.

They will also receive structured on-the-job training from their supervisors in the first month after joining the newsroom.

Reporters at vernacular papers such as Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu can also attend courses on language translation for news reporting.

Veteran journalist Paul Jacob, 64, who is deputy editor of The Straits Times and dean of the SPH Media Academy, said the courses will include a mix of on-demand content such as videos and self-paced e-learning modules, as well as live online classes and in-person classes.

He said it is important for journalists to continue learning throughout their careers and lives, and to develop new ways of doing things in a fast-paced industry.

"So much is changing in this industry of ours that it often seems that we are having to play catch-up all the time," Mr Jacob said.

Mr Don Yeo, who is SMT's chief people officer and executive vice-president (corporate), said the academy is a key component of the company's talent development and retention efforts.

He added that SMT's senior management has committed to providing at least 40 hours of training a year to each staff member.

"This is a demonstration of our commitment to make sure that the newsrooms are resourced well enough to be able to carve out that time for each and every one of you, to provide for your training needs," Mr Yeo told SMT staff during the launch.

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