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NATIONAL DAY: VOICES FROM THE FUTURE

The importance of doing what you love

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Adeline Tan, now a year away from graduating with a degree in communications, has wanted to be a journalist since she was 16.

I HAVE wanted to be a newspaper journalist since I was 16, which is why I am enrolled at the Nanyang Technological University's undergraduate course in Communications.

With a year to graduation, anxiety is setting in as, here and abroad, I see the media industry going through tough times.

Fairfax Media, one of the largest media companies in Australia and New Zealand, will cut its editorial budget by a quarter in the face of declining advertising and circulation, and reduce its staff strength by up to 115 across the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today. Further afield, even Pulitzer-winning publications with long histories such as The New York Times and The Guardian have also slashed staff and costs.

In our own backyard, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which counts this newspaper among its stable of publications, last year announced that it would reduce 10 per cent of its workforce over the next two years and merge two of its newspapers into a free daily tabloid.

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News is becoming digitalised, and readers now demand news packaged in formats other than the traditional newspaper, such as video clips.

The changes stirred fear in me and my peers. Already, some seniors in the newsroom have moved on to jobs in related sectors such as public relations.

But I am thinking I will stand pat about pursuing my long-held dream career.

When I was still an intern at The New Paper, I was assigned to cover the Woodleigh MRT security scare. It was raining heavily that day, but I stood in the rain, looking for people to interview. Another time, chasing a follow-up to an accident, I found myself attending the victim's funeral. The taxi driver dropped me off in the wrong part of the cemetery, so I had to trudge across the huge place, in the process, ploughing through mud.

During those times, the work day would seem twice as long under conditions that would be uncomfortable to most people, but I have kept going. What has kept me going? The thought that I can possibly make some kind of change, or difference, by getting the information out there - information people would want to read.

Don't dread working

It's why I get out of bed every morning. It's why I don't dread coming in to work each day.

My internship has given me insight into the life of a journalist, but more importantly, it has made me surer that this is what I would like to do for as long as I can.

With the media industry undergoing change, I may one day have to tell my stories through a video or in some other format - one other than a newspaper. To me, it is the outcome and the process that matters. The medium in which the story is told is secondary.

I choose this path - with my eyes open to the likelihood of the industry going through some rough patches - over having a more secure job.

I am making an active choice to do what I like.

So even if journalists have to change the way they work as the industry changes, I will still be able to get through the day because I am doing what I enjoy.

  • The writer is a fourth-year Communications student at the Nanyang Technological University
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