The following blog post was written by Azim Idris, senior writer for Asian Correspondent, on his return from the East West Centre’s (EWC) International Media Conference held in Singapore from June 24 to 27, 2018. The EWC, also known as the Centre for Cultural and Technical Interchange between East and West, is an education and research organization set up by the US Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations between Asia, the Pacific and the US.
If you have an inquisitive mind, a knack for writing and an appetite for travel and adventure, then a career in journalism might be your calling.
As a journalist and senior writer working for Hybrid and Asian Correspondent since early 2016, I was recently given the opportunity to attend the International Media Conference organised by the Honolulu-based East-West Center in Singapore.
Themed “What is news now?”, the conference featured back-to-back panels and discussions on key challenges and trends in the Asia Pacific media landscape and beyond. Among others, the sessions tackled issues such as the global ‘Fake News’ phenomenon, media literacy, and geopolitical developments affecting the region.
There, I attended several enlightening talks featuring renowned industry movers and shakers, including academicians from the likes of the Nieman Journalism Lab of Harvard University, and internet giants Google, Facebook, Tencent Holdings, traditional media leaders, and legislators.
And as part of a group of 350 journalists who attended the event, I had the opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow peers from near and far, with participants coming from legacy publications around the world, including The Guardian, The Economist, the LA Times, South China Morning Post, USA Today, Voice of America and the NHK, to name the few.
A picture of the EWC scholars taken during the conference in June. Source: Azim Idris
At the event, I was also part of the ‘Creative Storytelling’ panel where I got to present to a packed room of journalists some of the methods we employ at Asian Correspondent to tell stories via unique digital formats.
To a room of at least a hundred, I shared how our team covered the historic Malaysian general election on May 9, 2018, by running a Live Blog using the cloud-based 24LiveBlog platform, one of the world’s largest live blogging tools, and curating fresh content for the blog by pulling data from verified social channels.
For those unfamiliar with the goings-on of the region, Southeast Asia is one of the most exciting places to live and work, especially if you work in media. Personally, I believe there is never a dull day when it comes to reporting and writing about current affairs and politics in the region.
One of my latest stories was about the arrest and subsequent charging of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the scandal-plagued autocratic leader who fell from power during the tumultuous May 9 polls.
And just after the inauguration of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, I worked on numerous stories about his controversial and bloody drug war, one of which became AC’s highest read stories! I’m proud to say that I still hold the trophy for that achievement!
Early last year, I uncovered some declassified CIA files that revisited a corruption and murder scandal that shocked Malaysia in the 1980s. The article caught widespread attention on national media and also led to investigations being opened into another scandal that took place in the 1990s.
Although I’ve been a journalist for about eight years, I was able to fast-track my learning curve and visit more countries in my role at Hybrid compared to my time in previous outlets.
For example, in March last year, the Hybrid management gave me time off, as well as financial support, to attend the East-West Center’s Jefferson Fellowship programme, a three-week journey that took me from Hawaii to Japan, China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, where I learned about the impact of the new Trump administration’s policies on the Asia Pacific.
Thanks to the company’s support for training, I can proudly say I am now one of three EWC Jefferson fellows living and working in Malaysia.
On top of that, when I’m not travelling or covering the “big” stories, I’m sharpening my skills in digital journalism, doing everything from using analytics to understand the performance of my articles, using social listening tools like Newswhip to spot trends on social, learning ways to craft the best headlines for digital, writing social media captions, and not to forget, working our CMS, something not many newsroom journalists get to do!
Suffice to say, my journey in journalism at Hybrid has been extremely fulfilling; eventful at every turn and filled with countless opportunities to learn, grow and do so much more. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me but the sky’s the limit at Hybrid, and if you’re part of the family, you’ll be given the wings to fly.
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