Cub journalists get a taste of the action at YP
A dozen junior reporters came to the South China Morning Post's office in Tai Po last week. First, YP Editor Susan Ramsay explained the basic principles and rules of being a journalist and writing a news story. Then YP Deputy Editor Karly Cox took over, pretending to be Ocean Park representative Rebeca Harris, for a mock press conference to introduce the park's (imaginary) addition for the summer: five elephants flown in from Thailand.
The junior reporters were then divided into three groups and asked to write a piece to break the news to our readers. Later the YP Editor guided them through the printing plants and YP sub-editors briefed them on their work.
Before the workshop, I had no idea what to expect. But I was excited about taking a look behind the doors of the South China Morning Post offices.
I wasn't disappointed. The Young Post team asked us to write a 500-word news article based on a mock press conference and a press release. The exercise made me feel like I was an actual journalist and taught me a lot about journalism.
I really enjoyed taking part in a press conference as a journalist. Ocean Park representative 'Rebeca Harris' (aka YP Deputy Editor Karly Cox) gave a talk and we had to take notes. That's when I realised being a journalist is not easy.
Journalists have to pay close attention to what others are saying and take notes quickly. They also have to write down the facts correctly without making mistakes.
I found that writing an article with four other people is quite hard, especially when you have a deadline to meet and team members all want to have their say.
I loved seeing how newspapers get printed. When YP Editor Susan Ramsay opened the door to the production room, we saw huge German printing machines. It felt like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
'Hurry! We only have 10 minutes left!' I looked at the screen and felt a rush of panic. We had only covered half a page and precious minutes were ticking away ... Working to a deadline was very exciting. The three groups of cub journalists competed hard.
After 'filing' our story, I fell back on my seat and felt great relief. I looked at my group mates and grinned. We did it!
Andy Chu Keng-hong
Being a journalist for a day was a unique experience for me. We were reminded several times of the vital importance of conveying factual and easily understandable information to readers before starting our work.
Members of our team often bickered while writing the article, but we managed to finish our work on time. Ours was even selected as the best of the three articles.
Donald Li Lok-him
I have been passionate about journalism since the age of 12. So I was really glad to be given the opportunity to take part in this workshop and meet smart students who, like me, love writing and want to become journalists.
I enjoyed our guided tour around the SCMP offices and see the journalists at work. It was also great to learn about the printing process and its technologies.
Participating in this workshop gave me a basic idea of what journalism is all about: facts and deadlines. I truly enjoyed attending the simulated press conference and writing a story about it afterwards.
It allowed me to apply the skills I had just learned, including how to select useful bits from a sea of information.
I was disappointed, though, that there won't be real elephants at Ocean Park!
Jack Sze Wing-leong
I most enjoyed the part when junior reporters worked together in the office. Writing a story in an hour was tough, yet all of us managed to finish the articles before the deadline.
I realised how crucial the checking procedure is while writing an article and how helpful it might be to read aloud your own article.
I also made new friends that day.
I had thought that printing newspapers was as simple as copying a sheet of paper at home. I was wrong. It's a complicated process that involves things like separating colours. Yet modern presses can print up to 12 newspapers per second!
I also learned about the pressures of working to a deadline. Now I understand why teachers insist on students keeping deadlines for their assignments.