By Mei Feifei (22A13A), Chairperson
The term ‘student journalist’ can sound quite pretentious. If all we do is (apparently) recapitulate school events or provide information on CCAs, subjects and programmes, what distinguishes us from any random r/AskRaffles? Furthermore, how can we expect a student to fully take on the demands of being a true journalist, given their limited time, energy and experience?
In other words, can we at Raffles Press truly call ourselves ‘journalists’?
The first question is easier to answer. Established in 2006, Raffles Press has since dabbled in a variety of genres and subjects. We have featured our campus’ unsung heroes, trained as librarians, covered the Kiwi Cup, and reviewed bubble tea.
Let us not forget our annual trolls, or our venture into videojournalism—take a look at some infamous haunted corners on campus here! This is but part of our efforts to go multimedia in 2021 and beyond: as times change, so does Raffles Press!
A page from our Teachers’ Day 2021 Special Edition!
Aspiring student journalists can expect sessions from 4.15pm-6.15pm every Tuesday. There is no mould for what a typical CCA session looks like—from a two-part lecture on basic journalistic skills by an NUS lecturer to covering an online murder mystery story, sessions aim to sharpen members’ writing skills whilst promoting bonding and having fun.
Term 3 started with a two-week workshop conducted by NUS lecturer and ex-journalist Ms Julyn Kang.
This also means that most of the actual writing takes place outside of session time, giving you more time to bond with the writers working on the same article as you. After all, friends who debate over diction in Google Docs’ comments section are friends for life.
In a regular year, Press members cover a variety of CCA events both inside and outside of school. With the pandemic, however, there are fewer in-person events to go for, but you can always become better acquainted with Zoom as an online attendee.
For example, our annual inter-school conference, Pressing Ahead, was moved online this year. The conference is an invaluable opportunity for us to exchange insights, perspectives and ideas with our peers from other JCs. In recent years, it has also led to the publication of Cross Island Impressions, a collection of articles by journalism clubs across the island.
Pressing Ahead 2021: Hindsight—Reporting in Crisis.
Of course, we are aware that our operations do not match up to professional reporters’ range or depth. Nonetheless, Raffles Press still strives to be the best student journalistic agency it can be.
As the heartbeat of the school, there is truly so much that a student journalist can do. Even when short on events to cover, there are still infinitely many people to interview, books to review and opinions to vocalise.
Being in Press trains you to be more aware of your surroundings, keeping your eyes open for issues of interest. These ideas are later transformed into articles that are put up on our site.
Every article you produce will have an audience and an impact: from something small like appreciating your batchmates’ hard work for organising Teachers’ Day, to even sparking conversations over issues like cold-calling and the slur culture, perhaps your 3am thoughts can reshape a certain part of school culture.
Well, you may argue, anyone can do that! If anything, Instagram stories are a better source to find out what’s-going-on and who’s-saying-what.
Indeed it is easy to snap a quick photo of every little thing that is happening. It is even easier to repost someone else’s opinion with an accompanying ‘preach’ and a carefully curated assortment of emojis.
However, as the world around us speeds up, it is sometimes necessary to slow down and focus on depth, rather than breadth. Press members are thus expected to go beyond covering the superficialities of the subject at hand.
At the same time, the public nature of our platform dictates that we juggle sensitivity, political correctness, and authenticity. This is the premise for the significant journalistic freedom granted to us—would a school mouthpiece be given the liberty to critique Council elections?
The writing process may hence seem arduous as you work out the kinks in your arguments with your editors. Over time, however, you may find yourself gradually becoming a master in the delicate arts of balancing conflicting viewpoints, extracting facts from rhetoric, and exercising journalistic integrity to never misrepresent or warp any view.
Juggling all this as one person is tough. That is why the Press community is here: we help each other along, up the learning curve.
Ultimately, you may find that your most valuable takeaways from your two years with Press are (clichéd as it is) the experiences gained along the way. Collaborating with batchmates, negotiating with editors, and writing for an audience are all skills that you may not otherwise learn in school. It is also inspiring to know that with every article that you write, a small part of the present is documented in your own words.
If all this sounds exciting to you, we hope to see you at our trials, and one day have your name join our bylines!
All images were taken in accordance with prevailing SMMs.