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She Prepares The News To Wake Up Singapore

She prepares the news to wake up Singapore - Article Image 1
Laila at the CNBC news studio at Level 2 of the SGX building


BEFORE the sun was up, she is already at work, doing what she has always loved doing even when she was still a student – helping to report the news.

Laila Humairah, 24, works as News Assistant at the live news broadcast at CNBC. She prepares visual materials that go with the stories for presentation by the news anchor (the individual who faces the camera).

Laila who graduated in 2012 with a BA in Communication at SIM-State University of New York at Buffalo, started at CNBC in July 2013. “I work on a live news show that goes on air from 6 to 7am, requiring me to be at work by 3am,” she explains.

Putting stories together

“I'm not a News Anchor. Sometime in future though, I definitely hope to break into reporting the news on television. But what I do now is an essential part of broadcasting. My task is to prepare the visuals (video clips, audio clips, lower thirds and text slates) that go along with these stories written by the producers.

“I also put together and edit longer, two- or three-minute stories (what we call packages) that reporters from our US or UK offices send to us in Singapore, so that everyone in Asia will be able to watch these stories too.

“Occasionally, I write scripts based on wire stories (i.e. reports sent in by Reuters and other news agencies),” she adds.

What makes this job interesting despite the graveyard hours is how unpredictable news can be, and the adrenaline that comes with working on a live news programme, Laila says. “There is no room for error or inaccuracy, but such an intellectually stimulating environment pushes me to keep improving every day.”

Singapore is CNBC Asian regional headquarters. Bureaus from the region, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney, contribute to seven hours of live news programming. The programmes follow market action from the US and provide real-time information on the Asian markets as it unfolds, as well as a preview on the markets as they open in Europe.

Editor-in-chief at SIM

Laila’s involvement in student editorial work while studying at the SIM campus certainly prepared her for real-world journalism. In her first semester after enrolment, she joined the school newsletter as a writer, filing reports on school and external events. The following year, she became editor-in-chief of the same publication, leading an editorial team of 10 and taking charge of three issues before she graduated.

“I also wrote for SIM Global Education’s official magazine, VIBES, in a number of issues,” she says. “By the end of my final semester, I have undergone internships at print, radio and television broadcasting companies.”

(VIBES is published twice a year and circulated to Singapore’s HR managers and senior executives in general management. Its contents, written mainly by students, include student and alumni profile stories and thought leadership articles on education and HR trends and development.)

Communication course


At UB, the Communication course offered the most suitable path for her to pursue her interest in journalism. “I knew I wanted to do something related to writing and journalism, and felt that the programme was a good starting point.

“What I loved the most about the programme was that the majority of the modules had a real life application, such as the public relations, advertising and journalism modules.

“We really had to create real proposals and products. For journalism, had to cover real events and stories. We were required to have accountability for our own work, in which, at the end of the day, made us proud of our work more than we thought we’d be. Most classes involved a lot of discussion about the topic, and everyone would have something to say before we arrived at an answer.

“The discussions made me realise that sometimes the answers aren’t the most important. Even when the assignments piled on, I remember feeling motivated whenever I stepped into class. UB's school spirit is the best!"

Reflecting on her university days, Laila says, “I can’t emphasize enough not just education, but having curiosity to learn and an open mind, is important for anyone, whether for career or personal development."

An open mind, she believes, is not restricting oneself when seeking opportunities or experiences. Sometimes what doesn’t seem ideal at first can turn out to be most enriching.“I had always wanted to be a print journalist, but when opportunities in broadcast journalism came my way, I had to take them in order to be exposed to a different kind of media in the industry,” she said.

“Having the courage and tenacity to be stubborn about pursuing a dream is something I’ve heard many times from mentors and other students, but I’m still working on it.”

Unwinding with books, yoga

Reading is Laila’s escape. She also enjoys yoga and Pilates. She has also started learning Spanish. Her favourite books are those by Haruki Murakami. “I re-read his books time and again. Especially his short stories and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

“I also love Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway’s short stories and poems by Charles Bukowski. I just finished a Neil Gaiman book. I’m looking for something by Orhan Pamuk (Turkish novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2006) for my next read. Either that or Murakami’s new book.

“Other than these, I also have a growing collection of non-fiction travel and historical books.”

– Posted online on September 25, 2014