I fell sick after one week of travelling/camp and four days of  reporting I called in sick on my final day. I’m much better now. I can get up and start working on my projects/assignments again, so you have a much happier girl here. On Tuesday I go back to school and I have a profile feature due this week about a guy who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his heart-lung transplant. Will have two days to finish it after meeting him on Wed.

For the benefit of those who are not on my Facebook (I’ve been wavering back and forth between adding acquaintances and adding real friends since I started promoting my book on fb), I hereby reproduce an edited and updated version of what I posted there:

The past week has been stressful. I signed up as a Channel31 media volunteer for the Special Olympics IX National Games, and little did I know what that entailed! For someone with zero experience (I haven’t even done TV in Principles of Broadcasting), being expected to deliver something on time for everyday’s bulletin just feels so huge.

It meant:

1. Driving/finding directions to the location where you event is being held–something I am horrible at and definitely need to work on to be a savvy journalist! I suck big time. Note to self: should get International Driving License sometime.

2. Going on a sick learning curve putting together a news package. I now know how much effort and SKILL it takes to put together a 5 min story: at least half an hour’s worth of various footages including noddies (the reporter nodding intently into the camera, lol), various angles/takes on the event.  It’s fun deciding what to shoot, especially when you walk in to cover an event after calling the media rep who says, ‘oh, there’s no good story here at golf.’. I discovered a golf athlete who had been on a drip the previous day but he still insisted on playing (you just gotta go around talking to people to discover all these gems), had 15 min before he had to go tee-off, rushed the interview, tried to get some good grabs (=full sentences that would make sense without the questions), and I made sure we got good shots of him preparing for his game, swinging, driving around in the buggie, etc. And then I’ve learnt that you look out for tender moments, like when a mother adjusts the collar of the athlete’s shirt; when they celebrate at the stands, and so on. And when you can frame a nice story with a focus it is really satisfying.

You’ve got to be quick and decisive, and it’s scary to think t’s entirely up to you what and how much you want to capture. People get news through your eyes!

3. Staring around nervously when terms like overlay, piece to camera, cover shots, HD, DV-PAL, cutaways and natsot are thrown around. Congratulate me, I now know the meanings to all of them.

4. For the first time, I actually took video editing seriously. I was thrown a ton of footage of the opening cemeromy and Katerina’s voiceovers and told to edit a story that was due in three hours. Mr Julian, I wished you had forced us to pay more attention in IDM and I wished I had done your work more professionally! I was talked at in a rather condescending tone because I didn’t know anything. I think the story I edited went to air today as the opener for the bulletin. It’s not just about editing the visuals you know? It’s about thinking where you want natural sound, where you wanna match the footage to your voiceover, how you’re gonna structure it…a good journalist will make all that flow seamlessly, and meet the deadline. I asked lots of stupid questions in my editing process, and thank God the C31 guy patiently edited all my stuff. I saw how they adjusted the audio levels and turned the monos into stereos and cleaned up my rough work. 🙂

5. The newsroom is so stressful. Maybe it gets better once you know how things work and gain confidence. 

6. THE UNI OF WOLLONGGONG STUDENTS SAID THEY GET TO GO OUT AND DO STORIES ALL THE TIME. You can immediately tell how much more comfortable they are doing their job. They can hit the ground running when they are employed. I am telling all you Taylor’s students and aspiring journalists, we need to get as much work experience as we can. We just need to. We are NOT being taught to be journalists AT ALL. And honestly, how much can you be taught in the classroom anyway.
Lastly, learn up all your softwares even if you don’t think you need to use them. You just never know in today’s world of media convergence. Learn photography, learn videography, learn editing, learn everything when you get a chance. Because if a journalist can report and take pictures at the same time, and you can only report, guess who will be hired. And there’s no such thing as “I just want to stick to print” these days.

We should not shortchange ourselves. This might sound lame but it really is not: Malaysia needs good journalists now more than ever. Not just ones that can find jobs and write well. But journalists that have a nose for information, know how to use it wisely and communicate through the right channels. Journalists who are always fighting their own ethical struggles and seeking to improve themselves.