By Mirwais Jalalzai, Singapore :: Sixteen journalists from 13 Asian countries completed three months training which was conducted by Tamasek foundation and NUS in Singapore.
During their 13 weeks in Singapore, the Fellows got a chance to reflect, rejuvenate and retrain. A key goal was to keep up to date with changes in the industry and in the craft of journalism.
The Asia Journalism Fellowship is an initiative of Temasek Foundation and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. It brings journalists from across Asia to NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for three months of learning and exchange.
The issues of journalism and a free press come to mind these days. With a significant number of journalists attacked in, among other countries, Afghanistan , just in the past few months, we clearly see the dependence of the media system on the political environment in a country.
AJF Fellows visits newsrooms such as The Straits Times the famous publication of Singapore, CNBC and Reuters, and attended workshops on social media and data journalism.
According to the particpents of this fellowship they also stayed focus on journalism’s timeless essence, as a profession dedicated to storytelling in the public interest.
“Journalists everywhere long for the time to reflect more deeply on their profession and the issues they cover. They are in constant output mode, with precious little time for reflection and personal improvement. It’s an occupational hazard. AJF offers experienced journalists from the region some quality time to prepare for the next stage of their professional careers.” Said Cherian George, AJF Director.
Away from the deadline pressures of their jobs, Fellows pursue their intellectual interests in one of Asia’s leading universities. The semi-structured programme is designed to sharpen professional skills and deepen understanding of trends in media and communication. It also provides access to key newsmakers in Singapore’s public sector, business community and civil society, offering insights into the challenges faced by one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan hub cities.
Ko Ko Gie a journalist from Myanmar and a one of the participants of this program, said “It was a such a useful program for us because of learning new tactics of photography and writing stories.” We need more similar training programs in future for strengthening capacity building of Asian young journalist.”
The world will collapse without journalists, said Aidan White, director of Ethical Journalism Network at the welcome dinner to open the Asia Journalism Forum seminar on Sustainable Independent Journalism. But with media organizations downsizing or closing down, the key is remaining sustainable so that journalism can survive. At the conference, participants learnt the guerilla-type survival skills of alternative media – such as Malaysiakini, Thaipublica and Ujyaalo Network from Nepal. They also heard from Google and Storyful on how to tap on digital media for greater reach.
“Journalists have to start with assumptions and stereotypes, but shouldn’t end there, said V. Gayathry, executive director, South East Asia Press Alliance. “They should always test and verify, and look beyond the obvious,for example, what looks like an ethnic conflict could really be about economics.” The diversity workshop has become a staple of the AJF programme.
‘We deliver journalism training and development projects to strengthen media across the ragion and to make a conection between Asian journalists, said The Asian Journalism fellowship director Dr. Cherian George. . “We also provide media communications training and better understanding of each other in the region.”
journalism shouldn’t just be about what readers want – it is also about what the public needs he added.
During stay in Singapore, fellows exchanged inside stories of how news organizations were adapting to media convergence.
Singapore Fellow Serene Quek spoke about how her print colleagues at Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao are voluntarily experimenting with short videos and multimedia content including a popular Chinese “Character of the Year” readers’ poll.
As a journalist from South Asia I had the honor and great pleasure of be 2014 fellow of Asian Journalists fellowship. With support from the fellowship, I spent approximately 9 weeks in that useful program. Although I am still working on my research topic, I can already say that the Asian Journalists fellowship has had a significant and very positive impact on my work as well as on my own development as a journalist.
The fellowship gave me the chance to bounce ideas off some of the top scholars in my field — an absolutely invaluable experience at this early stage. The feedback I received helped me to both narrow my topic and settle on a research design. In addition, the fellowship gave me the chance to learn more about social media and media ethics.
“This programme will hopefully allow the journalists to build friendships and networks and they may find interesting opportunities to work together in future. Relationship building is very much a part of our Asian culture said Benedict Cheong, Chief Executive Officer, Temasek Foundation.
The Asia Journalism Fellowship programme was founded in 2008, with the first cohort of Fellows arriving in 2009.
The Fellowship is made possible by Temasek Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organisation anchored in Singapore that seeks to contribute to sustainable growth and a bright future of hope and opportunities for people in Asia.