Discover SIM GE
Penning His Way To Success
He’s rubbed shoulders with some of sport’s biggest names, including Serena Williams, winner of a record 23 Grand Slam singles titles and German World Cup winner, Mesut Özil. These are just some of the highlights of Chua Siang Yee’s three-and-a-half year stint as a sports journalist at Singapore’s national broadsheet, The Straits Times. During this time, the SIM-University at Buffalo (UB) BA (Communication) graduate picked up several accolades including the Singapore Swimming Association Story of the Year (2016), S-League Story of the Year (2016), and most recently, the Singapore Press Holdings (English, Malay and Tamil Media Group) Young Journalist of the Year Award in 2016.
As he leaves ST to pursue a law degree at the University of Cambridge, Siang Yee reflects on a fulfilling career as a journalist and shares how his time at SIM GE has equipped him with the right skills to succeed.
Making His Choice
“I heard about the programme from a UB alumnus while I was a doing an internship at The New Paper. The fact that many of the modules were taught by visiting faculty lecturers was a big draw for me.”
A Lasting Impression
“I had two modules with a visiting instructor, Stephanie Pollack, who combined textbook theories with projects beyond the class masterfully. More importantly, she also encouraged us to spread positivity wherever we went. One project in the Small Group Communication module took me to Tanglin Mall, where we helped shoppers carry groceries from the supermarket to their cars while simultaneously exploring the dynamics of working in small groups. Stephanie really shaped my outlook of life and I cannot thank her enough for that.”
His Journalism Career
“After I graduated, I applied to join The Straits Times as a sports journalist. In an ideal world I should be scoring goals in the English Premier League. But since I cannot play professional football, writing about it felt like the next best thing."
“Being on top of global affairs, reading widely, clocking hours of research and of course putting in the hard work – all these have helped me survive at the country's biggest newspaper.”
An Exciting Experience
“Once I got a text message from my editor. It read “Can you be at MBS in 15 minutes?” Turns out there was a last minute one-on-one interview with Serena Williams, who was here for the 2014 WTA Finals, and the main tennis reporters were unavailable. About 25 minutes later, during which I devoured all the tennis research I could do on my iPhone, I found myself face to face with one of the best tennis players of all time in her hotel room. She was really friendly – and surprisingly soft-spoken.”
Something To Write Home About
“I don't really like to harp on awards or accolades because it only makes you complacent, but I'd say my scoop on the Olympics broadcast saga was the one story I am most proud of. Not because it won me a Story of the Month award, but because of the discussion it provoked and how the public’s reaction eventually led to Singapore securing live broadcast of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics one day before the opening ceremony. And we all know what happened in Rio, don't we? #josephschooling"
Advice To Aspiring Writers
“You probably have heard this already but if you haven't – writing is hard work. Good writing doesn't come naturally, even to the best writers. It takes years of practice to develop your own voice and to write well. My best stories are the result of countless drafts and many hours spent agonising over every word and phrase.
“Of course, in journalism the deadlines mean you don't have much time to refine your pieces, but it is always worth re-reading the published story and seeing where you could've done better. Anyone who tells you writing is easy is either a) lying or b) Shakespeare. In the event of B please call The Straits Times hotline.”
Pursuing His Dreams
“I would have studied law as my first undergraduate degree but my poor GCE "A" Level grades ruled that out. However, after doing well enough at both SIM-UB and ST, I felt like the time was right to seek a new challenge and pursue this long-held ambition of being a lawyer.
“My conviction to read law is strengthened by Singapore's changing socio-legal environment. From my vantage point in the newsroom, I find that a pluralistic Singaporean society is increasingly outspoken about social and legal issues. I am determined to be a part of this change and hopefully help shape part of the Singapore story.”
Register here to find out more about SIM-UB programmes at UB Open Day @ SIM on 9 Jun.
Posted online, 03 August 2017, updated on 04 April 2018