SINGAPORE: It all started out as a hobby for the self-described “girl with a camera” – but on Thursday evening (Jun 29), Channel NewsAsia’s Lam Shushan was recognised as parent company Mediacorp’s Young Journalist of the Year – a first for the digital journalist, who joined the CNA Insider digital team in December 2014.
The Mediacorp News Awards celebrates excellence in journalism and commends journalists for constantly raising the bar of Mediacorp’s news reporting.
Ms Lam said Thursday’s award was a small stepping stone for what she wants to achieve in the field of journalism in the next five to ten years and will spur her on to tell better stories.
“In the digital field, you are expected to take on a lot more responsibilities, you have to be not only a journalist but also the cameraman, the soundman,” she said.
“I like to joke that sometimes I am even the light stand, while having to hold up a light stand and interviewing my subjects. And this is on top of having to ask good questions to get to the heart of the story being explored.”
“JUST A GIRL WITH A CAMERA”
Ms Lam said she started out as “just a girl with a camera”.
“I had a hobby for making short videos which I would put on my blog and on Facebook,” she said. “I never imagined that a few years later, I would take this hobby further and actually find those skills useful in a digital newsroom.
“Neither did I know that the digital platform would evolve into such a wonderful medium that would push my work out to millions of people, and even better still, to have them interact and comment, and share their opinions on the issues that I raise in my work.”
Ms Lam, who also won a Bronze at the Asian Digital Media Awards for best use of online video, said she is “excited to find new ways to harness the power of the digital platform to keep telling stories that matter”.
Ms Lam credited the people around her for helping her grow as a journalist, especially her editor Yvonne Lim, who is also a veteran journalist. “A big thanks to her for being a good mentor, and for keeping the entire team at CNA Insider inspired about the impact that journalism can have on people’s lives,” she said.
She also gave a shout out to her interviewees, thanking them for allowing her to share their stories.
“I think there is a general assumption that Singaporeans are an uncompassionate, unenthused bunch, but through the course of my work while reaching out to complete strangers, I’ve learnt that this is not true,” she said.
“It’s nice to know that there is a warmer, softer side to the unfriendly Singaporean – if we are only willing to listen.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH JOURNALISM
Ms Lam jointly won the Young Journalist of the Year award with Kelly Ng from TODAY. Ms Ng said she believes journalism can make a difference in people’s lives.
“During my first year on the job, I did a news feature on the lack of nutrition for migrant workers and after the story came out, the authorities wrote to me, as well as some of the NGOs to see how they can help make the issue better and I felt that was an example which showed me that journalism can really make a difference in people’s lives,” said the reporter.
The Journalist of the Year award went to Lim Yun Suk, a senior correspondent with Channel NewsAsia.
“South Korea is a country where you have stories breaking every single day, but you don’t have so many stories breaking at one time and that’s what happened last year,” said Ms Lim, who heads the broadcaster’s South Korea bureau.
“You had the impeachment (of former president Park Geun-Hye), you had Samsung, all the business conglomerates going in together and then you had North Korea, as usual, so there were just so many things happening in one day – so I think last year was very difficult but very, very emotional and very inspirational for me.”
It was the first Journalist of the Year title for the veteran, who has been with Channel NewsAsia for 13 years.
A Channel NewsAsia documentary, which explored the topic of race in Singapore, won Documentary of the Year.
The team, which took six months to produce the 45-minute piece titled Regardless of Race, said it was a challenge to get people to open up about the racial discrimination they face or the prejudices they have.
They also had to ensure the sensitive topic of race was properly presented.
The documentary, which aired on Aug 15, 2016, was hosted by Senior Minister of State Dr Janil Puthucheary.
“It was very, very difficult to push this out and throughout the whole six months of producing it, there were times we were wondering: ‘Is this show really going to go on air?’ Maybe it might be pulled and shelved halfway. We had to be very careful and make sure the show was very balanced and we put out a variety of perspectives,” said Ms Low Minmin, an English Current Affairs producer.
“Ultimately, it was a lot of discussions with everybody on the team, with Dr Janil to make sure he was also comfortable with saying what he was saying,” she added.
The News Story of the Year award went to Farewell To A King, a two-hour TV special that paid tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, by International News and English Current Affairs.
“The subject matter was a great challenge for us, since this was a man revered by an entire country,” said executive editor Aaron Chew, adding that preparation for the team’s coverage had begun six to seven months before the event itself.
“We were prepping ourselves for the inevitable and when it came I think it was testament to the team work and the resourcefulness of our journalists who were able to go out there and get stories on a man that many people loved, but not many wanted to talk about.”
Nadia Natasha, who directed the programme, said she and her team were “honoured and glad” of the recognition.
“The studio production team are always prepared to take on any breaking news situations, but it’s nice to be acknowledged and recognised with this award,” she said.
“Breaking news is quite hard to prepare for, especially in situations where you can’t anticipate what will happen, but because everyone knew their role, everything went quite smoothly for this piece.”
Feature News Story of the Year went to Tuesday Report: The Nursing Story from Chinese Current Affairs, which explored the life of a nurse working in Singapore.
“It’s not an easy story to produce but we put in a lot of effort and we’re very honoured to receive this award,” said senior editor Derek Goh. “The story is interesting because of its human element. We bring an insight into the job of a nurse and unfold their true life and their working environment.”