Towards Truth News (NOT Fake News!)


“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” reads a quote by Oprah Winfrey.

Event poster shared online, calling for registrations!
I know that the scope and reach of my platform may not rival that of Oprah’s but each one of us still has the power to wield our truths.

This was the encouragement shared by The Iskandarian*, organisers of the training course, Youth Truth News – Basic Citizen Journalism Course (Series One) to invite participants to register themselves and join the one-day course.

*The Iskandarian is the official newspaper of Iskandar Malaysia and this series of training courses are offered to interested individuals – Free-of-Charge – as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contribution to the community.

This series of training courses aims to empower the youths in our community to write and share news responsibly, equip them with the skill sets to do so and increase their marketability for job opportunities.

At the course, participants will learn about the key principles in journalism from a published author, a writer, a photographer and other professionals, and even get an opportunity to enact the role of a journalist in the context of an escalating story.

When the organisers approached me – the published author – to discuss about giving the Introduction session at the start of this training course, I responded with a volley of questions that required answers.

This was because I needed to prepare my Introduction based on my target audience and I wished to include elements that would interest and motivate them in the right way.

In recent years, I’ve had the privilege to talk to adult groups, women groups, youth leaders in national schools, secondary and primary schoolchildren as well as university undergraduates in international private schools, with each presentation skewered to their specific needs.

Once I understood who my target audience was, I would then prepare the relevant elements to share and keep the participants not only interested but also engaged and absorbed, and to ultimately benefit from our short time together.

The Introduction aimed to help participants who were keen to learn more about the world of writing/journalism so I should begin at the beginning by sharing a bit about my own writing journey and let the participants see how I arrived at where I am now.

They must know that there was no magic formula to suddenly get my writing published but it was through step-by-step equipping myself with the basic tools, working hard and among other heartaches – accepting rejection – putting in a ton of commitment and sheer determination to succeed.

On the morning of the event, I was encouraged to see the participants trickling into the hall, some earlier than others but it was understandable – as it was a weekend and a Free-of-Charge event.

I reminded myself that all the participants in the hall were people who wanted to be there to learn something to equip themselves as another step on their journey in their writing career.

While some of the participants were familiar with my published work, some were obviously unacquainted with me. So it was my privilege to introduce myself to them.

Meanwhile I was prepared to share with them, my own writing experience along with useful tips on how to equip themselves with the basic tools for writing printable copy.

Using a collection of my pieces published in various publications since 2004, I showed the participants the columns I had contributed to, to let them have a glimpse of the range of stories and the layouts along with photographs in cover and centerspreads.

I was also pleased to share with them, my two non-fiction books which contain a collection of well-loved Johor-centred stories that were first published in the newspapers as well as other stories about inspirational people in different Johor towns, exclusive to the books.

These books are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online via www.mphonline.com

At the close of my session, I invited participants to take a closer look at my collection of published pieces and books, and to ask, if they had any questions.

Through this experience, I believed they would have a better idea of what editors wanted from writers and what readers enjoyed reading – and let their imagination soar… maybe to a time when their own stories may be published too …

By handling the printed material, I wanted them to realise that ultimately, it was down to just an ordinary person (like you and me!) sharing our experiences in an extraordinary way, to keep readers engaged and interested for more.

In the following part of the training, modules for Writing was facilitated by Salamahafifi Yusnaieny, a journalist with The Iskandarian while Media Law was shared by Balbeer Singh, Head of Legal & Secretarial Services with Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).

In the Writing module, participants learned more about content writing and how it needed to be true, transparent, non-biased and factual, while taking into consideration, all the sensitive issues.

There was a great deal of legal jargon to digest in Media Law but it introduced participants to the legal do’s and don’ts to keep them aware of how to approach writing and publishing.

After the lunch break, a session on Photography was facilitated by Vishnu Dev of Reel Studio professional photography and videography.

In this session, participants were introduced to the etiquette and basics in photographic skills and the various types of photos that were newsworthy.

Finally, there was a Practical session for participants to take on the role of journalist in an exercise led by Harish Mustak, a journalist with The Iskandarian.

It was indeed a day well-spent among like-minded people who were keen to acquire some tips and skills to be a better writer and photographer while staying on the right side of the law.

The Truth News speakers at the Series One event
At the end of the day, I asked the organisers for the participants’ feedback and they were happy to share with me, some of the responses as follows:

Thank you Iskandarian team for putting this event together for us. And thanks also to the wonderful speakers.”

Thanks to The Iskandarian team and speakers!”

Thank you all, the organisers, speakers and everyone for sharing your time and contributions to this wonderful event. And not to forget, the simple but delicious lunch provided!”

In the Law part, it was good info.”

There was even a comment for me which was both heartwarming and encouraging. It simply said: “They all loved your session!”

Series Two of Youth Truth News – Share Your Truth is scheduled for Saturday, August 24 from 9am to 6pm, held at IskandarSpace, Iskandar Puteri in Johor Baru.

To register and participate, send email to: harish@theiskandarian.com

For more info, visit website: www.cj-truthnews.com