“Journalists have a role to play in society” says Prof. Syed Arabi

By Azra Farzana Shuib & Mahadhir Monihuldin

GOMBAK, 5 September 2016: Student reporters must add value in their reporting for the news portal, the founder of IIUMToday, Prof. Dato’ Seri Dr. Syed Arabi Idid, told a training session held in campus yesterday.

“As reporters for IIUMToday, you have to spark interest of your readers and to play your role to educate them too,” he said.

He stated that it is important to develop curiosity in reporting and writing so that they could tell the readers from multiple angles that would interest them. In light of the coming convocation ceremony, he advised student reporters to look for more new things rather than deliver details that are already known.

He also emphasised the importance of the “economy of words”, saying that such approach would differentiate a journalist from a writer. He advised IIUMToday reporters to be concise and to the point.

“A writer would look at a beautiful rose and express all of its beauty through countless words. A journalist on the other hand, would look at a rose and simply say, it is a beautiful rose,” he said.

Prof. Syed Arabi shared his experience with the reporters when he was BERNAMA’s bureau chief in Kota Kinabalu in the 1960s on reporting for a news agency which required him to look for news and feature stories that were significant to capture the interest of readers.

Apart from Prof. Syed Arabi, Communication Department lecturer, Roslan Ali also delivered his lesson in the two-hour training where he gave an idea of what news and features are, and the things that make them newsworthy.

He reminded the student reporters about the qualities that make up the news, among them being proximity, timeliness, unusual, human interest as well as impact. He also shed light on the “inverted pyramid” concept of news in prioritising the most important information in the lead.

“What goes first depends on the news,” he said, adding that “the headline and the lead should be able to give significance to the story.”

In writing a feature, in which he described as something “harder to write than news”, he encouraged student reporters to write stories that are able to catch readers’ attention and make them read until the end.

“The most important information can go in the middle of the feature or at the end,” he added, “or it could end with a cliff-hanger.”

Meanwhile, the Editor of IIUMToday, Aznan Mat Piah, who was also present at the event, said that the two speakers have “excited the student reporters on the concept of news and the approach to reporting.”

According to him, it is important for reporters to give their story an intellectual value.

“News should not be trivial, but something that is of intellectual value that can educate the students as well. It should interest readers to follow certain development, and create awareness of what is important and matters to them,” he said.

More than 30 IIUMToday reporters and the portal’s public relations team attended the training session to help improve their reporting and writing skills.***

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