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SPH journalist is balancing the might of the pen

By Rebecca Rachel Wong

As a journalist at Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) Chinese Media Group’s digital NewsHub, Mr Yap Jun Weng produces in-depth news articles, videos and online shows. 

It is a fast-paced industry that is also becoming more challenging amid the Covid-19 pandemic. What used to be an interconnected world is increasingly becoming more disparate and polarised.

Mr Yap says: “The pandemic has made governments more inward-looking as they prioritise national interests to stabilise the situation. I also foresee more tensions in international relations, given conflicts between the United States and China over the management of the pandemic.”

In such a climate, the 26-year-old acknowledges the power that journalists have to potentially sway minds and create opinions, simply by using their words. All the more, he says, the profession has to keep its integrity and sense of responsibility.

“Staying objective is very important – there is a need to hold the middle ground and present multiple views, helping people look at the big picture,” he says. “I hope to write about issues in a moderate and constructive manner, promoting the values of empathy and inclusiveness.” 

International exposure

Though the job can get intense, Mr Yap relishes the adrenaline rush. He credits the SPH journalism scholarship he holds for equipping him with the skills to thrive in the newsroom and look at issues objectively.

As a scholarship holder, Mr Yap majored in broadcasting and TV journalism at Fudan University’s School of Journalism in Shanghai, China. He also interned at Lianhe Wanbao’s local news desk and Lianhe Zaobao’s Beijing office. 

“My internship opportunities prepared me for the demands of the job,” he says. “Even though 2020 was a tough year for the newsroom and my first as a full-time journalist, I could adapt quickly and grow into my role.”

Looking beneath the surface

During his 2017 internship at Lianhe Zaobao’s Beijing office, Mr Yap produced articles on foreign and domestic issues in China, such as the 2017 Sino-Indian border conflict, the country’s cashless payment system as well as its bike-sharing industry.

He grew accustomed to interviewing analysts and academic professors. This helped him to interpret and understand the subtle meaning behind government policies and statements.

For his piece on the Sino-Indian border conflict, Mr Yap says he took pains to ensure that his reporting was balanced, taking into account various perspectives from both sides. His final report included expert analysis of the Chinese government’s stand as well as the views of India’s Foreign Minister.

“Writing such analytical pieces elevated my writing skills and encouraged readers to look at issues beyond the surface level,” says Mr Yap.

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