By Bay Jia Wei (17S06R)
A soapbox, an inter-school conference, a dramatic blunder, a Reddit feature, many movie reviews, and a good number of opinion editorial (Op-ed) hits later, Raffles Press has broken new ground. As always, thank you to our readership – Rafflesian and non-Rafflesian alike – for having a humble school press’ webpage on your browser, and for supporting student journalism.
As much as we celebrate our achievements, I cannot help but wonder how much was Press, in my term, blinded by legacy and the pressure to keep the Golden Age alive.
Undoubtedly indebted to generations of seniors before us, we were given an established site to work with, known for its insightful Op-eds and extensive coverage of school events, a privilege that few other school Presses have.
Yet, it was perhaps this silver platter that caused us to lose a larger sense of purpose in our work – where event coverage tended to sound formulaic, and the administrative process behind it a greater nightmare. Still, we played along with what we had always been familiar with though we were never once accosted within or outside the school compound to cover every school event that we had heard of.
Yes, it is possible to cite readership as a defence. But to get into the blood of school life? Event coverage simply isn’t going to cut it. Press needs to write about issues that Rafflesians care about, not issues that Raffles cares about – and the Rafflesian is a complex identity that extends beyond the walls of the institution and into the wider community.
Statistically speaking, these articles earn us the most readership. Quixotically speaking, writers can attest to the fact that these Op-eds tend to be the more rewarding pieces of their career: from getting to the bottom of school life, to commenting on the phenomena concerning youths or students as a whole, and even venturing into the wider community. In this sense, my members have done remarkably well in our term, and this exhaustive list of hyperlinks does them little justice.
Yet, as I speak of our accomplishments, I urge the future batches not to blindly follow tradition. Take what you like, and throw what you don’t – think of it not as tarnishing, but rebranding, the name of Raffles Press.
It is, after all, a fun time to be embroiled in journalism, with the rise of independent media in Singapore, and allegations of the media’s power in politics; it is an opportune moment to rock the boat. To the next batch taking over the reins: Think, amidst the fuzz of administrative struggles, about journalism and where Raffles Press stands – how do we stride the line of objectivity versus subjectivity? Are articles too balanced to generate discussion? Have we been subconsciously self-censoring? Where exactly are the boundaries?
I look back at my term in Raffles Press with a slight tinge of regret that my batch has left without fully exploring these questions, but I am nevertheless proud of every individual’s accomplishments – it is my belief that the fleeting time spent in CCA, in the larger scheme of things, is to be spent on the self-development of its members.
In retrospect, perhaps the most remarkable thing about being a Press member was to have had the liberty and responsibility to make Press the space for our opinions, both not to be taken lightly in the context of a very complex media age.
As a final parting remark, let this article be a binary line between the past and the future. And, ironically, in the previous Chairperson’s words, “… to paraphrase Patek Philippe, you never actually own Press, you merely look after it for the next generation.” I leave with good faith that every subsequent batch of Raffles Press will keep their seniors in the archives, and begin their own tradition.
The writer is the outgoing Chairperson (2016-2017) of Raffles Press. The views expressed are her own.