The Star Malaysia - Star2
The job of a media practitioner
STUDYING communication and media studies at Monash University Malaysia’s School of Arts and Social Sciences was an eye-opening experience for alumni Tee Jowee.
She learnt how much the media shapes world view without knowing.
“It taught me how media messages are constructed, and it made me aware of how we need to look beyond the surface of what is being fed to us,” said Tee, a copywriter for an advertising agency.
Tee said she enjoyed her course tremendously and decided to do an honours degree, which required one more year of studies.
Her first media studies lecture was filled with great anticipation as the lecturer explained about the course structure and expected assignment submissions.
They attended a certain number of tutorial classes a week, as well as complete a list of readings.
Students had to come to class ready to talk about and debate key ideas in the readings.
Fruitful discussions happened when everyone had something to contribute.
This practice in class not only imparted discipline, but also critical thinking skills necessary for taking in complex ideas and communicating in a way others can understand.
Students were trained to form original thoughts and opinions – nothing was spoon-fed.
“We had to think deeply about the things we read. This skill was definitely something I brought to the workplace.
“As an advertising professional, I have to understand and translate clients’ briefs into executable ideas, as well as repackage our team’s solutions for the clients in a clear, marketable way.
“At the end of the day, the consumer has to understand what we are trying to communicate about the product, in the first read of the ad.
“There were also presentations in class that honed our speaking and communication skills – two extremely important qualities in the workplace,” Tee said.
As a copywriter, Tee presents ideas to clients as well as win pitches for her company.
Her experience of presenting ideas to a classroom filled with diverse individuals helped shaped her confidence and ability to communicate to people of different backgrounds.
“I am also often asked to host and moderate events, as well as emcee gigs in my free time.”
Many think communication and media studies is an easy course, but this is inaccurate.
“Even a simple printed poster should not be taken at face value,” Tee pointed out.
It was crafted to send an intended message, much like a manufactured product.
Even a simple news article involves a team of reporters, writers and editors.
It goes through gatekeepers and shareholders, suppliers and distributors, before reaching the end reader.
This news manufacturing works to ensure the news received achieves the intended goal – whether to inform, influence or generate profit.
In the end, biases and different perspectives in each publication exist because of these different actors involved.
“In my line of work, I have become the one that manufactures ‘the message’,” Tee asserted, adding that she branded and marketed products, looked at different audiences, and devised strategies to speak to clients’ audience.
“I work with designers, suppliers, account executives, my bosses and the client to achieve a well-crafted message.
“As a copywriter, it is my job to ensure the message attracts the right customer for the brand. I also think about the best medium for each product based on the target audience.”
Increasingly, organisations require their staff to look beyond the surface, think creatively and critically. At work, communication and collaboration are the name of the game.
In class, students analyse the way media messages formed opinions about demographics and psychographics, different social classes, groups, countries, politics, sports and more.