I haven't been able to talk about my new job at CNA after so much backlog and being so busy on weekdays. The last two weeks were my ...

Ready to take on the world! (lessons learnt while makin mistakes in the newsroom meeep)

I haven't been able to talk about my new job at CNA after so much backlog and being so busy on weekdays.

The last two weeks were my first weeks on the job at Singapore Desk in CNA and it's been crazy but a whole lot of fun!! Crazy in a sense that... I'm always on the edge because in the newsroom, everything's in a rush. When it's the 9pm news on Channel 5, things aren't fully ready ya know? It's like... producers and editors are still in the midst of getting news packages up. For example, if a particular news package about "new cycling routes in Pasir Ris" is lined up to air at 9:15pm, I can still see the journalist in the editing suite doing up the package with the video editor at 9pm and rushing to get it done to have it up on time at 9:15pm. And then if it doesn't make it, it gets pushed down to 9:20 or 9:25pm. When this happens, people are shouting in the newsroom because bosses are unhappy that it got pushed down and that kinda thing.

So it's an absolute mad rush!!!

For now, I'm tasked to write the news stories that the news anchor has to say and I also write the 'breakers', which are the short lines that the presenter says to tease the audience on what's "Coming Up Next" after the break. And I don't get assigned the job till really late at maybe 7pm or 8pm and it's crazy because I have to read through the scripts that the reporters have written to get a gist of their stories and quickly write something. Not only that, I've to quickly edit some of the videos and then run up to the video editors to make sure they get to the studios on time.


And my heart goes bu-dum-bu-dum. It's crazyyyy.

Guess what? These are the simpler things to do in the newsroom already. So just imagine when I have to get out there, write a story and come back in time to edit everything to go on air. Conferm heart attack yo.

And that was what happened to me last week on Day Three of my working day. DAY THREEEE only. I barely learnt the systems.

But I was the only one available in the newsroom and my boss was like, "Alright, you're gonna have to do this story". It was a story on a dog disease called Leptospirosis that went spreading at a dog daycare centre. So I had to go down at 5pm. Conduct the interview, get my answers, come back, script, and edit. I was going NUTS!!! 

Before I went out for the interview, I was damn scared coz I was clueless as to what to do. I even went to the toilet and told the cleaning aunty who is the sweetest old lady you can find in Mediacorp and told her, "Aunty... 我很怕 leh" - Aunty... I am damn scared leh.

But she said, "不要怕。你去问其他人。他们会帮你的。” - Don't be scared, ask others, they'll help you.

Indeed, I went to Kimberly Spykerman, a reporter, to ask her, what in the world I should do. And she helped me along with the necessary steps. Thank God!

By the time I was done, I returned and had to start scripting. But I hadn't written a broadcast script in ages and I was trying to perfect it, YET THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. It was 8pm and I hadn't started editing the package. 

Someone behind asked, "are you done with the script?"

When I shook my head and said no, my editor yelled, "YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT FOR THE 9PM NEWS"

That made my heart race and pound like speedy gonzales bro. I said to myself, alright, you just gotta submit whatever you have AND RUNNNNNNNN.

Run lola, RUNNN.

In the end, luckily I had an intern with me who had already learnt the ropes two months in (compared to my miserable three days) and led the way together with me. We finished it in the end, although not on time, but we still DID ITTTTT. Whoop dee dee doooo.

The post-mortem that came out the next day by my bosses was "Good effort on the package - done by an intern and a newbie" HAHAHA. No prize for guessing who the newbie was hahahaha

So yeah. It really is quite insane. 

A few lessons I've learnt on my first two weeks on the job:

1) Be gentle on myself 

Throughout those two weeks, I've been thinking to myself, will I ever get it? Will I ever be good enough?? Because it has been quite a steep learning curve. And my writing just seems so bad, and I realise I'm not sharp enough with my news angle. My writing gets rehashed so much by the editors that I sometimes wonder if I even need to write anything when my bosses probably will do a better job at doing it on their own hahaha. 

But I've been trying to be gentle on myself. That I can afford to make mistakes now because I'm new. I will just have to get up every time I fall. And that, this is necessary. I'm not out to impress anyone. I'm here to learn. And learn, I shall. 

In time to come, my writing will get better, my news sense will sharpen and I will be good to get out there and rock the show.

2) Don't be afraid to ask

As I learn, I must must MUST not be afraid to ask questions. Because a mistake is more costly when others find out that I hadn't asked and made an assumption on the way things should be done. 

And it's not just my colleagues.

My newsmakers as well.

If I need to call to clarify something, I MUST ask. Otherwise, there will be a shit storm awaiting in a not-too-far distance. And before I know it, I'd be covered in excrement. Hahaha let us not go there eh?

Coz you see... one of the "goals" that my bosses set out for me was, "Zero Errors". Their tolerance for factual errors is excruciatingly low. In fact, they have no tolerance for it. There is a white board in the middle of the office that counts the number of factual errors made. And it scares the living daylights out of me. Ok lah, dramatic a bit. But seriously, I thought to myself... Isn't it inherent for humans to make mistakes?? This is going to be tough man.... 

But I understand. This is the newsroom. People rely on us for information and we must disseminate that information accurately. We can't afford to make a factual error. Otherwise, our credibility goes down the drain as a trusted news source and our name as a reliable broadcaster goes out the window.

As much as I think this will be a tough thing to do, I will do my best. Every job has its challenges, I'll take it on and still give my all.

3) Staying Human

With that said, I will always try to remind myself that I am also only human and I will do some things wrongly. BUT I have to be accountable for my mistakes and correct them when necessary. There will be the desire to fault others and not take the fall, but I will, and must live with integrity. 

So solemn, this is the real world eh? Sometimes I think the world takes things too seriously also. But oh well, let's deal with it the best way we know how.

Not just that, I also will need to remember that the stories I tell should be humanised and respected with dignity. 

My newsmakers are human and cannot be treated as "means to an end". Even with such a crazy work environment, I will put their stories out there because their stories help paint a bigger picture. Not simply because I have to get my work done. I think it's easy to act this way due to the nature of our work. But I will constantly remind myself to stay rooted to what I hold true.

Which explains why, even though it is a chore to stay up late to pick up guests for interviews for the 10pm show - and I have to stay till 11pm - I still like doing it. Because I get to talk to my guests and it's always lovely to talk to people from different walks of life - artists, psychiatrists, digital company directors - I always get a kick out of it. I love to greet them when they arrive and send them off at the door after their interviews are done. It's almost like a visit to my home haha.

My colleagues don't really like doing this though, I guess because they have to banter with them and also well coz, they have to stay in the office late into the night. 

It is work to them, but fun to me. I hope that spirit doesn't die out too quickly!

4) Knowing when to say HELL NO!

Since I'm a newbie, I tend to agree to do any stuff that's thrown at me. Also willingly, coz I want to learn as much as I can. But I think, in time to come, I need to learn how to reject work from colleagues who pass theirs on to me. 

Otherwise I'd drown. And die. And the fault is on me. Because I didn't know how to say no.

And also because I didn't....

5) Know how to ask for help

That's one thing I realised in the newsroom. I cannot, I absolutely CANNOT, work alone. 

Every day, I'm asking for help. Every day. Not just because I'm learning. Or because I'm new. My colleagues who have been around for two years are constantly relying on each other for help - be it transcribing interviews or simply swopping shifts. 

It's crazy. And I'm the sort of person who likes to depend on oneself first before considering help when it comes to doing things. So... this is actually really tough for me. But I gotta learn to open that mouth of mine to ask, ask, ask.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm burdening the people around me with my countless questions, oh dear lord!

6) Don't burn bridges

People, once again, are the most important assets in my career. Love it or hate it, working with people - I gotta deal with it.

I have to work with them - all the way from colleagues to newsmakers - even with MY OWN FRIENDS.

Because everyone around me said I'd lose my friends one by one as I embark in my career and this line of work coz I'd simply have no time for them since my working hours are odd.

But I think that... it's essential to maintain my friendships and it ultimately boils down to better time management. It's possible I believe.

Afterall, I realised after working for two weeks, that BECAUSE I work, ALL THE MORE I need my friends. I yearn to socialise. I need a life yo.

7) Keeping wkw connections close 

Almost a day hadn't gone by the past two weeks without me meeting a wkw connection one way or another.

In my second week at work, I met a senior called Luo Er who was a wkw senior two years above my batch and she taught me sooo much. I believe it was the wkw connection that I found endearing because it screams FAMILIARITY. And we could talk about things that we had both been through in school like exchange, modules that we had taken before.

It helps.

And my goodness, PR FOLKS. So many juniors I had met. And just on Friday I met a senior working in PR as well.

He emailed me saying, "It's empowering to work with wkw people".

Indeed, it really is. I thought his sentence encapsulated what I felt. I suddenly saw the light, and how everything finally connected.

School life was important.

8) What I studied in school mattered

Remember what I said about the steep learning curve? It'd have been steeper had I not been to a communications school. I took all the modules relevant for Broadcast Journalism and it is freakin useful. Although I had forgotten a good amount of stuff I learnt heh, it's the basic newsy language that I caught faster than if I hadn't been to wkw.

From what went on in the TV studio, to scripting in the systems, to video editing packages, everything I had learnt was put to my advantage in this new environment.

And I am ever so thankful for that.

Thankful for my education :-)

I guess it was good to know what I wanted to do earlier on in life.


I'm learning loads. By the second week, I somehow got much more confident because I got used to how the system worked. And I think once that gets out of the way, I will be able to take on more projects. And I'd be a whole lot more confident in producing stories that I want to put out. 

One step at a time, I tell myself. Baby steps will get me further for longer. 

Another thing I tell myself is this line that I saw somewhere, "It's not about impressing anyone, it's about growth" And that's true. I don't want to do what I do to impress others. I don't want to pressurise myself and use my work as a yardstick to prove to others that I'm worthy. Instead, I want to use my work as my own yardstick for the improvements I can make for myself. It's about growth.

And it's easy to just say that, I know. But I must constantly remind myself so that it becomes second nature. At the same time, I must be open to feedback. Feedback from bosses. Because that will keep me engaged with my work. What people say matters as well - I can't live in a lonely bubble of self-improvement and achievement. I need to find that fine balance. That's how I will continually grow throughout my time in Channel NewsAsia. And I want to keep learning and growing. 

Remember, remember, it's all about the process, never the result. And I will try to live my life in that manner the best I possibly can.

Sure, it'll be hard. And sure, I will fall. But I know there will always be people around me, I daresay even my own colleagues, who will help guide me through this. 

Most of all, my work to put out stories is what's most important. Nothing else matters, as long as I keep at it.

I hope in time to come, I can always return to this post to remind myself on what's important. When I'm still sane and starry eyed. When I still see this world as a bloody beautiful place to live in haha. When the world doesn't seem like it's ending just yet.

Go Si Hui!


Some pictures from NDP Preview last week with performances that I felt was so apt to my life right now~

It was about the future of Singapore, and well, I saw it as my future ahead too heh : )

The future is beaminggg!
Our futures look oh so bright too!
Suxin just left her job at Keppel and her first day on her new job is tomorrow. We're both entering a new phase in our lives and I can only wish us both the best : ) Friends go the distance together~

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Taahira Ayoob said...

Number 5 is very similar to what foopy told me some time ago, but we all live in a connected world :)
And. can i buy you .....a cake for trying :)
Proud of you si hui!

Tan Si Hui said...

Aiyo, so sweet lah you!!
Thank you, I still have a longgggg way to go though. It's true.
Let's keep at it together :)

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