Journalism in the spotlight at All In!

By Amelia Wong, a Republic Polytechnic Diploma in Mass Communication student

Former Channel NewsAsia presenter Suzanne Jung was in the middle of a holiday in London in 2011 when she received a call. The caller gave her a chance to interview Mr Ban Ki-moon after he was elected United Nations Secretary-General for a second term. Immediately, Ms Jung hired her husband as her producer and the pair flew to New York where they were told they would be given access to Mr Ban for 24 hours. A brief on-camera interview then became a 30-minute long documentary, which led to “many sleepless nights” fretting about the assignment.

Recalling this anecdote at the All In! Young Writers Festival 2016, Ms Jung told a room packed with budding journalists and writers to “expect the unexpected” if they aspire to work in the media.

Ms Jung, meanwhile, suggested students could start a campus newspaper if they didn’t have one. She recalled how her classmates started a newspaper because they were so bored. “Be bold, be brave and try your hand at everything. Be passionate about what you are doing,” Ms Jung said.

The same session at featured Mr Manfred Rist, the South East Asian correspondent of NZZ, a Swiss newspaper, and representative of the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore.

Aside from Ms Jung, foreign news correspondent Atia Abawi also drew in large crowds during her hour-long talk, titled “Wartime Cities: Writing Dangerous Truths.” Ms Abawai, who was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan for five years, said she wanted to be a journalist, despite the challenges involved.

“I wanted to see it (history unfolding) with my own eyes,” she said.

This year’s event is also the first time All In! has explored in-depth the use of social media integration and content management. In particular, a group of Republic Polytechnic Mass Communication students ‘live’ tweeted some sessions so that the discussions could be further explored in cyber space. 

Journalism was a key feature in several sessions at the Festival was held on March 12 and 13 at the National Library Building. Organised by the National Book Development Council of Singapore, the annual event gives young writers the opportunity to interact and engage professionals in relevant writing industries, focusing on the different platforms and genres of writing through workshops and fringe events. This year’s edition saw the largest number of participants in the festival’s eight-year run.

Carlo Peña, All In!’s Festival Manager, highlighted: “We figured that it is a youth festival, why don’t we get the youth to be more involved in this year’s festival?”

Besides sharing their experiences, speakers also offered tips for those who aspired to be journalists.