A Journalistic Workshop with a Twist
Written By: Gillian Marie Teng
If our well-loved fairy tale were to be reported as a news story, how would you rewrite it?
“Three little pigs escaped death and got the better of their would-be murderer – the village’s wolf.” Or “A fire broke out at a cottage at Hamshard road today. Three pigs were found to be dead and a culprit has been identified – a dark grey wolf in sheepskin.”
This was exactly how our “You can be a Reporter: Introduction to Journalistic Writing” Workshop with Felix Cheong, panned out.
The workshop, held over Zoom rather than through a written discourse of words, saw a lively exchange of ideas, perspectives, and insights in the three hours of the web session conducted by Felix.
Felix, a producer behind shows such as Gotcha! and Sunday Morning Singapore and who has over 25 years of experience in the media industry across TV, print, and the web, shared his expertise with SUSS students and alumni through a complimentary workshop organised by SUSS, on journalistic writing.
Taking Away More than I Bargained For
I came into the workshop, mind slightly occupied with the Covid-19 ailment that I was battling with at that time, thinking, “Oh well, it’s good that there’s this workshop then – I can spend my Saturday morning being productive whilst being stuck in my room.”
Who would have thought that I ended up being immersed in the workshop, snapped out of my Covid-19 lethargy with a rush of adrenaline from the engaging thought-provoking discussions during the session?
Felix went through the eight characteristics that brought a news story its value. He also went through the inverted pyramid format, a type of technique used by reporters to craft news stories.
In each of the lessons, Felix accompanied his teaching with interactive activities for the participants to grasp the lesson concepts. For example, participants were asked to analyse an actual press release on a Sing Lit event by The Arts House and rationalise if they would cover the event as a reporter.
Responses were varied from different groups – some shared that they would cover the event as it had the characteristic of being novel whilst some shared that the event had value to them as it had the characteristic of ‘proximity’ with the event taking place in Singapore.
It was interesting hearing different views from various groups and individuals, and this spontaneous exchange of views and elaborations aided in making our session a livelier one than expected. Definitely not your usual run-of-the-mill lecture.
We had the privilege to be given a lesson and actual hands-on practice on crafting the proper stylistic conventions for journalistic writing too. Journalistic stylistic conventions just refer to the proper techniques and formatting in crafting dates, times, numerals, names, etc. in news writing.
For example, numbers one to nine are usually spelt out in news reporting whilst 10 and above are written in their numeric forms.
Such tips and more were helpful for us as they provided a guideline for us to follow in precise news writing.
Spontaneous Participants, Spontaneous Facilitator
However, that was not all we gained from Felix’s workshop. Felix, being the spontaneous and sensitive facilitator that he was, adapted to our needs and interests during the workshop. Instead of being rigid in his outline of lesson objectives, Felix caught on to our impromptu interests and patiently answered almost all questions thrown to him on that subject and even showed us a YouTube video on our newfound interest despite it being a diversion from his planned topics!
Curious about that “newfound interest”? It was actually on Churnalism! Unsure about what Churnalism is about? Perhaps you can keep a lookout for other similar workshops from SUSS! *Cue the grinning face emoji.
Such flexibility and spontaneity to the participants’ needs were what drew us to his teaching and led us to open ourselves more to him, partaking in discussions, adding more questions to already answered questions, and staying fired during the workshop.
A workshop with a twist? Well, truly, I guess it was for both the participants and facilitator alike – both never expecting to learn unexpected knowledge and teach spontaneously.