Future leaders of newsrooms and journalistic organisations have their work cut out for them, given the challenges the media industry faces, said World Editors Forum (WEF) president Warren Fernandez.
To meet these challenges, they would need a strong sense of purpose, resilience and optimism, said Mr Fernandez, who is editor of The Straits Times and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/ Malay/Tamil Media Group.
He was speaking yesterday to 30 journalists and editors at the end of the Young Media Leaders Fellowship Programme, a six-month programme by the WEF Asia Chapter, under the World Association of News Publishers (Wan-Ifra).
The programme's participants, who hail from 15 countries and territories in Asia, were supposed to gather in Singapore this month, but met virtually instead due to the Covid-19 situation.
The pandemic also meant that initial plans for participants to attend dialogues on leadership, as well as political and economic issues, in person had to be reformatted as online discussions. The programme was supported by Temasek Foundation.
Mr Fernandez and Mr Benedict Cheong, chief executive of Temasek Foundation Connects, thanked all the organisers as well as the participants for making the programme a success, despite the disruptive pandemic situation.
Covid-19 has challenged newsrooms to step up and report on fast changing developments, with reliable information becoming even more important in a time of so much fake news, said Mr Fernandez, who had mooted the idea for the fellowship programme.
The pandemic also reminded everyone in society of the key purpose of professional newsrooms, and the critical role journalists play, he added.
"I hope the skills and the discussions you've had will renew your sense of purpose, give you that resilience and optimism for the future, because I think we're going to be called upon to show that leadership in the months and years to come," he said.
Yesterday, the programme's participants also listened in on a discussion organised by Wan-Ifra on political and economic challenges in the region.
Moderated by ST associate editor Ravi Velloor, the panel included Mr Ken Moritsugu, a news director at the Associated Press in China, and Dr Lina Alexandra from the department of politics and international relations at Indonesia's Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
The keynote speaker was Associate Professor Nobuhiro Aizawa from the faculty of social and cultural studies in Japan's Kyushu University. He spoke on the future of relations between the United States and Asia, and how inequality will be a challenge for the region.
One of the participants was ST deputy business editor Poon Chian Hui, who was struck by how many participants identified with the challenges brought up during the programme. "We may be in different countries, but the pandemic has also allowed us to find common ground. That's because media agencies across the world faced similar challenges, and now have that same task of trying to chart a new normal," she said.