SCHOLARS'

EXPERIENCE

Harnessing the influence of social media platforms to engage young audiences
By Sanjay Surana
Ms Lee Hee Ai wants to see SNAP become a popular content brand among youths, whether it is creating talking points or allowing audiences to learn something new.
PHOTO: FRENCHESCAR LIM

SPH Journalism scholar Lee Hee Ai produces informative and entertaining videos on current talking points with the hopes of fueling interest in Chinese language media content 

Soft-launched in December last year by SPH Media, SNAP produces Chinese content online for young people.

Covering everything from lifestyle and adulting to current affairs and entertainment, their informative and entertaining videos and memes are distributed on various channels such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

This exciting and fast-paced venture, which will be officially launched in April, is overseen by Ms Lee Hee Ai. As the head of SNAP, the 29-year-old not only works in front of the camera, but she also sets the direction for content and maps out the brand’s long-term strategy.

Although she never envisioned doing this when she first considered a career in journalism, she says the experiences have further strengthened her belief that being willing to try new things is important.

“It is vital in this current digital age when things are transforming rapidly,” she says. “By being open to new ideas and platforms, we can benefit from the opportunities that may come our way.”

Throughout her six-year career with SPH Media, Ms Lee has excelled as a journalist, having covered both the crime beat as well as being a health and social affairs journalist writing about policies and parliamentary debates to scientific research and lifestyle topics on the ground, and now as the editor of SNAP.

She has also won a number of awards, including one for a detailed write-up on scientists’ understanding of the Covid-19 virus at the start of the pandemic, another one for a story on virus transmission in Hougang, and more recently, a 30 Under 30 Award from the International News Media Association (INMA).

A 20-minute documentary she produced on racial issues in Singapore was shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year.

CREATING MEANINGFUL AND ENGAGING CONTENT

Reflecting on her current duties, Ms Lee hopes SNAP will ignite an interest in Chinese language media content, which she feels is on the wane.

“I look forward to seeing SNAP become a popular content brand among youths,” she says. “We want our content to become talking points and for our audience to benefit and learn something from it while being entertained at the same time.”

From an early age, she knew she wanted to work in the media. During career talks held at her secondary school, the two sessions that really interested her were by a news broadcaster and a movie director.

It was also at school where she found out about the SPH Journalism Scholarship. Lured as much by the prospect of a job in journalism as the chance to lighten her parents’ financial burden, she applied. The scholarship funded her Bachelor of Arts & Social Sciences, Sociology degree at the National University of Singapore.

“Sociology allows me to view society from a different perspective and understand what is happening around me in a different light,” she notes.

The scholarship also provided her with opportunities to go on an overseas exchange to Europe.

While at university, she would do an internship at Singapore Press Holdings (now known as SPH Media) each summer. As she rotated through different publications, she gained practical experience and built connections within the organisation. The exposure also helped her to identify her interests in the process.

“Within the first few years of my career, I was able to narrow down a path instead of being distracted by the wide range of options outside,” she says.

Her previous role was a reporter at Lianhe Zaobao, where she covered the health beat for two years and eight months. When the pandemic began, her workload exploded.

“Even though constantly rushing out important news within a tight deadline was physically and mentally tiring, it honed my skills as a reporter,” she says. “I became adept at digesting information quickly while writing clearly and concisely. I also wrote cover page stories frequently.”

Ms Lee is proud and excited to be part of the fast-paced media industry as newsrooms embark on their transformation journey to better serve readers in the digital era.

Her mission remains unchanged.

“As a journalist, the articles I write create a visible impact in society because they not only inform, but also give a voice to people who have something to say.”

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