Journalism For Gen Y Panel. Left to right: Ian Yee, Loo Jia-Wei, Zan Azlee, Lim Chee Wah, Niki Cheong.
Journalism For Gen Y Panel. Left to right: Ian Yee, Loo Jia-Wei, Zan Azlee, Lim Chee Wah, Niki Cheong.

Poskod Journalism Campus continued on 20 June at Black Box, Publika, with a panel discussion: Journalism for Gen Y. Sponsored by The Star’s youth platform, R.AGE, this panel discussed the way that millennial generation is changing journalism – both as creators and consumers. The panel was moderated by the editor of R.AGE, Ian Yee.

Featuring a varied panel consisting of Zan Azlee (multimedia journalist, documentary filmmaker, writer and lecturer), Niki Cheong (writer and lecturer on journalism and digital culture), Lim Chee Wah (editor of Time Out KL) and Loo Jia-Wei (Managing Director of the Popfolio Network), it was a fluid discussion that touched on everything from journalism basics to social media and the future of long-form writing.

The panel contributed different opinions and takes on the mode of journalism today. Subscribing to the fact that the digital landscape was still very largely experimental, Loo emphasised the importance of original content with an authentic voice. This tied in with Zan’s strong advocacy of multimedia journalism, of how we could and should utilise different media platforms in telling a story.

Zan himself made the crossover from print journalism to freelance multimedia journalist over the course of his career and his eventual trip to Afghanistan to shoot a documentary. Starting out as a writer in a period where departments in news agencies were more set in stone, he decided to learn new skills and videography and editing, which allowed him to find different ways to tell a story. “If you have the skills of telling stories in many, many different ways, it is a very very big advantage to you,” he said.

Lim Chee Wah, on the other hand, went back to the basics of writing. He had three main points for aspiring writers: “What you write is not yours”, “learn how to write for everybody but yourself” and “I don’t want to read your sentences, I want to read your thoughts.” Lim reminded the audience that despite wanting to put a personal spin on a story, as a journalist, you are still writing on behalf of an organisation and must adapt to suit your publication.

The panel also highlighted an obsession with virality. Niki was quick to point out the issue of how many young people are disconnected from daily news and current affairs. This leads to an “echo chamber” where people only consume what they are already interested in, or what grabs their attention. “How can we orchestrate serendipity on social media to get people to read news?” Cheong asked, adding that publications needed to find ways to make news appealing to young people.

Some questions for contention were raised by the audience. “What does the future hold for journalism, in particular for Gen Y? Will print media still be relevant as compared to online media?” Zan answered that only the focus and purpose of the media platforms has changed. Print will not die, just as radio did not die with the advent of TV. Media evolves and we interact with it differently but it remains relevant to our changing needs. “The concept of journalism is still the same. What has changed is the execution,” agreed Chee Wah.

Asked whether it’s becoming more permissible to show your partiality in reporting, the panellists broadly agreed that it was better to be upfront about your biases. However, even though journalists might admit to be partial, they should still give balanced reporting with an awareness of their own prejudices. After all, commented Zan, “What is an objective journalist? Does such a person exist?”

Lyn Ong

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Poskod Journalism Campus was produced by Poskod.MY as part of the Cooler Lumpur Festival. We would like to thank our event sponsor The Star, our beverage sponsor The BIG Group and our partners Al Jazeera.