A career in journalism is now more exciting than ever, what with the gamut of news and entertainment platforms ranging from print media to online sites.
When 29-year-old Lee Lay Ming joined Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) in 2010, she started out as a print journalist with the Shin Min Daily News. She covered crime, courts and general local news over the span of the five years when she was there.
The outgoing Ms Lee’s interest in journalism began in her junior college days, when she decided she did not want a deskbound job.
She went on to complete a degree in communication studies at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, on the SPH Journalism Scholarship (Undergraduate – Local).
Besides the usual coverage of her tuition fees, allowances and annual stipend, she was also supported for a six-month work and study programme at the Radio Beijing cum immersion course at Tsing Hua University in Beijing.
Never a dull moment
She is able to diversify her experience and skills with the year-old Chinese Media Group Digital, which runs zaobao.sg. This digital platform carries content from SPH’s local Chinese newspapers, plus original content produced by its management team members, content producers, web designers, digital product specialists, videographers and video editors.
Ms Lee says: “In the past year, we have been experimenting a lot with different types of content and presentation formats to see what does well online and what doesn’t.
“My superiors are very open and receptive to ideas so that makes work enjoyable as we are able to try new things. Also, I have really fun and creative coworkers, there’s always laughter in the newsroom and that makes the work even more enjoyable!”
Currently, she is a senior digital content producer, writing articles and producing videos suitable for the digital platform. At other times, she coordinates projects, collaborates with sports journalists from the three Chinese newspapers (an example was the Euro 2016 football championship) and works with Lianhe Zaobao journalists.
So while she still writes articles like she used to do in Shin Min, her target audience now is different and she has to adjust the way she presents stories to make them more attractive to the online audience. This includes becoming more savvy with story-telling through videos.
In her current job, one challenge she faces is finding stories that will do well online and packaging stories in an attractive way for the online audience.
She says: “When a story is shared on Facebook for example, you’ll know whether it’s a hit or a miss within the first few minutes of sharing, judging by the number of likes, reactions and comments on the post.
“It takes time to understand the topics your audience is interested in,” she adds.
However, the knowledge that her work can make a difference in someone’s life — be it changing their perception towards an issue or enriching their knowledge on a certain topic or even just entertaining them — motivates her.
She also gets to deal with a variety of subjects in the course of her work.
Ms Lee sees increasing opportunities in the online news world.
She says: “With the big push towards digital content in recent years, there has been an increase in demand for people equipped with skills to tell stories using multimedia, as well as those with coding skills to create interactive infographics and content.
“Knowledge in data analytics is useful too.”
Passion, integrity, perseverance, quick thinking and being observant are some traits that one needs to do well in journalism, adds Ms Lee.