A new wave for news

BRATs equips as­pir­ing young jour­nal­ists with the skills they need to nav­i­gate the world of new me­dia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.Age - By MYRRA BAITY fb.com/thes­tarRAGE

WHEN Jen­nifer Woo, 16, and her friends need their daily dose of news, they don’t just flip through a news­pa­per: they also scroll through their phones.

While Woo does read the pa­per – “I love the comics sec­tion!” she said with a smile – the con­ve­nience of new me­dia makes it eas­ier for her to get news up­dates wher­ever she is. That’s why she down­loaded a news app.

“I like it be­cause the app fea­tures a lot of short videos. Their ar­ti­cles aren’t very long either, and swip­ing my screen makes me feel like there isn’t too much to read,” she said.

Woo is part of a new gen­er­a­tion of news con­sumers, who get their in­for­ma­tion through new me­dia, like dig­i­tal videos and so­cial me­dia.

That’s why young jour­nal­ist work­shop, BRATs, is con­stantly up­dat­ing the skills taught dur­ing the camp.

Or­gan­ised by The Star’s award-win­ning R.AGE team, BRATs re­flects R.AGE’s own con­stant up­grad­ing to suit the mar­ket’s needs.

“The for­mat of the camp al­ways changes,” said R.AGE ed­i­tor Ian Yee. “The things that we teach them have moved from mainly do­ing sto­ries, to do­ing TV-style re­port­ing, and now to do­ing so­cial me­dia-style videos.”

Over the years, R.AGE it­self has seen many in­car­na­tions.

It has evolved from a print pull­out to its most re­cent form, an award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary team that has re­ceived ac­co­lades like the World Young Reader Prize for its work, in­clud­ing in­ves­tiga­tive series Preda­tor in My Phone.

But on top of just pro­duc­ing con­tent, R.AGE has suc­cess­fully used new me­dia to its ad­van­tage, us­ing chat apps and so­cial me­dia plat­forms to mo­bilise the pub­lic into ac­tion.

That’s what R.AGE aims to teach young as­pir­ing jour­nal­ists – how to use the tech­no­log­i­cal tools avail­able to change the world.

“In the past, we used to say that the most im­por­tant thing for a jour­nal­ist to de­velop is the in­stinct to find a good story.

“But in this in­creas­ingly digi­tised world, jour­nal­ists also need videog­ra­phy and edit­ing skills, and even cod­ing,” said Yee.

At BRATs, not only do the young par­tic­i­pants learn the ba­sics of jour­nal­ism, like in­ter­view­ing skills, jour­nal­is­tic ethics and writ­ing, they also learn first-hand how to shoot and edit videos, and so­cial me­dia skills.

“It’s im­por­tant to learn th­ese skills,” said BRATs alum­nus Chong Jinn Lik, 16.

“Even if you don’t be­come a jour­nal­ist, you never know if your job might re­quire you to pro­duce videos.

“I feel like BRATs helped im­prove my video skills, like which shots are good and how to cap­ture good an­gles and close-up shots.”

BRATs aims to arm a new gen­er­a­tion of youth with the tools to use and em­brace new me­dia, but it also arms them with the skills they need to nav­i­gate this some­times-con­fus­ing new world.

Thanks to so­cial me­dia’s open plat­form, al­most any­body can up­load con­tent, which has led to a new phe­nom­e­non – fake news.

But with the jour­nal­is­tic skills BRATs arms its par­tic­i­pants with, it’s eas­ier for them to sep­a­rate truth from fic­tion: an im­por­tant weapon in the Face­book bat­tle­field.

“A lot of the train­ing at BRATs is about teach­ing them to think crit­i­cally and ob­jec­tively,” said Yee. “Jour­nal­ists have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the com­mu­nity, to get both sides of the story and to al­ways be fair to all par­ties.”

For­mer BRAT Jonathan PeterOswin Da­son, the cur­rent sec­re­tary gen­eral of Malaysian Stu­dents Global Al­liance feels that he has greatly ben­e­fited by learn­ing th­ese skills at camp.

“BRATs has taught me that there is al­ways a dif­fer­ent side to the story and to find it, that of­ten means you have to move be­yond your com­fort zone” he said.

“It is very easy to fall into an echo cham­ber be­cause the news feed al­go­rithms shows you what you gen­er­ally like,” he added.

“With BRATs, you get the tools you need to ex­plore a big­ger world.”

If you’re a young Malaysian aged 16-19, join the #BRATsFam! Log on to rage.com.my/brat­sreg­is­tra­tion to sign up for our Nov/Dec camp. Sub­mis­sions close Nov 10!

R.AGE teaches young as­pir­ing jour­nal­ists to use the tech­no­log­i­cal tools avail­able so they, too, can change the world. — Pho­tos: SA­MUEL ONG/ The Star

But de­spite all the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, the spirit of BRATs al­ways re­mains the same: good old jour­nal­ism, and the won­der of dis­cov­er­ing new per­spec­tives.

By up­dat­ing the skills taught at camp, from pre­vi­ous news style standup­pers to cur­rent so­cial me­dia-style videos, BRATs al­ways works to stay rel­e­vant in the con­stantly-chang­ing world of new me­dia.

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