By now, most of you know that I’m with the news desk. But what is the difference between that and what I did before? Isn’t it the same thing? I still write for the newspaper, if you’re thinking about it in that context. Otherwise, my schedule and what I write is different.
At the Feature Desk, we write longer articles with a ‘soft‘ approach. This includes but is not limited to articles about interesting people, places and events. We fix our own schedule. Most of you already know that I used to write movie reviews (until it got discontinued), book reviews and the food column. I am no longer doing all that.
At the News Desk, we do the daily stuff that makes up a bulk of the main section. There will be a certain number of events that the media is invited to. Depending on the nature and time of the event, a reporter will get one or two of them in a day. The pace is a lot more hectic than the previous position, but it’s a rather welcomed change.
You need to turn the articles in within the same day, barring unusual circumstances. I’m a bit slow due to the luxury of being able to take it easy at the Features Desk, but with so little wriggling room, I’m learning to write faster.
So far, I’ve covered press conferences, launchings, ceremonies, community and charity events that may or may not include a YB or assemblyman/woman. I’ve gotten a decent number of bylines since I started in June, and one front page news.
Front page news may seem glamorous but it scares the crap out of me. It’s big and obvious and if you misquote or make a mistake, everyone will see it and be misled. It’s a psychology thing. If it’s inside and misquoted, people will still see it and be misled, but you take solace in the fact that it’s not the biggest news from yesterday.
One thing for sure is that you get out a lot more. The Features Desk can be a sheltered cove of your own making, but you don’t have much of a choice at the News Desk. This can be a good thing if you keep your mind open.
You quickly learn that the event itself is secondary if a YB is present. You learn which YB dispenses their opinion liberally as long as you’re willing to ask and which one sticks to the speech written for them. You soon figure out which photos you will need to go with the news and wait for it, instead of stalking people with you camera for hours.
You’ll travel to places you’ve never heard of or have only seen in passing but never had a reason to venture into, meet people you otherwise won’t run into or have a reason to talk to, and learn of things you never knew about.
Due to the English paper covering events in both English and Malay, my Malay is slowly getting better. But I must salute the people from the Chinese paper. Chinese is optional when you work for an English paper, but you need to know all three languages if you write for the Chinese papers.
I’m learning the ropes, getting some real feedback about my work and learning how to be a better reporter and writer. I’m enjoying my new colleagues and new environment. I’m looking forward to going to work for the first time in years. And I’m rediscovering the joy of taking photos again.
On the flip side, I don’t have as much free time as I used to. I haven’t made it to voice class in over a month, and I have no time for any of the side projects that I was involved in before. I haven’t had dinner with my parents in weeks because I never get home before 7.30pm. I dropped my bellydance class due to lack of time and energy. However, I keep my yoga mat and clothes in the car so that in the event I get to finish work before 6pm, I can pop over to the nearby yoga studio for class.
I must say that I’m very glad I did something about improving my fitness this year, because I don’t think I’d have the stamina to cope with this kind of schedule otherwise. My health is up, my endurance is up, my sleep cycle is less screwed up and I don’t rely on coffee to sustain me through out the day. The cuppa you see me holding in the first photo is an indulgence I allow myself a couple of times a week. Freshly Brewed Coffee, no milk or sugar.
Well, that’s my update of the past month. I hope you’re doing well.