By Tay Jun Wen/Red Sports
“I look strange in this picture. That one looks better,” I thought to myself.
I never knew the selection of photographs of myself would be such a headache. I was scrolling through my Facebook profile to find presentable photos to attach onto the internship page. I’ve heard of Red Sports before but I really did not know what to expect when I sent in the application.
I got a reply by email not too long later, from Mr Leslie Tan (aka Uncle Les). We were supposed to meet at Holland Village’s Ya Kun for an interview. At first, it sounded like a pretty unorthodox place for an interview. But at least, it meant that I did not have to wear smart casual as the attire for it.
The interview became more of a chat with the boss himself. From there, I was then invited to an orientation workshop which would happen in a few days. At the workshop, I met two other interns as well. They were Romaine Soh and Khairul.
On that day, we were issued our Red Sports t-shirts and Red Sports notebook. As the workshop was in progress, Romaine and Khairul were actively taking down pointers from the powerpoint slides. On the other hand, I was sitting rather laid back and listening instead of copying down what was being presented.
It was simply the way of how I worked. I figured that all these ‘To Dos’ and ‘Not To Dos’ could not just be taught like that. It needed trial and error before you could get things right. But at the same time, I was a little concerned that I may put myself off as an indifferent applicant, somebody who would just run off after that workshop with a ‘free’ t-shirt and notebook.
My first assignment was at University Town in National University of Singapore (NUS). I met a year-old crew, Joseph Lee. He was our photographer with me and Khairul. We were there to cover the Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) basketball championship. It was a pretty simple task of talking to the captains of the teams and gathering enough information to write an article about.
It was not all that a good start for me and Khairul. Doing our first interview together, the first words we got from an interviewee were: “Oh you’re from Red Sports? Can I decline to have the interview? I’ve had bad experiences with you guys in the past.” Come on, we were on our first day of the job.
Eventually, Khariul and I still managed to get the interview and Khairul, Romaine, Joseph, Uncle Les and myself had a good laugh about that incident as we made our way back.
The second event which we went to cover was the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) Cross Country. This was a drastic change from the basketball games which we covered. Previously, we were seated nicely in an air-conditioned sports hall. At this event, we were at Bedok Reservoir and it was pouring.
Khairul and I had to brave out the rain as the competition still went on. Our (mandatory) shoes were soaked thoroughly and all the athletes congregated at the Berlin Wall monument. It was a huge hassle trying to locate the winners and get our interviews. We were cold and it was an early morning event. The perfect weather to be sleeping in but here I was at Bedok Reservoir.
Despite all these deterrents, I still continued and tried my best in getting interviews and producing quality articles in the shortest time possible. What I found rewarding was the growing number of views each day for my articles. I did not care whether or not the readers did in fact read through everything. I was happy knowing that it reached that many readers.
From there, I slowly started to get the rhythm of things. I went on to cover IVP Track and Field, B Division Basketball, B Division Volleyball, National Schools Cross Country and National Schools Track and Field.
There were many memorable times which I had. Khairul and I became accidental cover boys for Red Sports’ recruitment drive for interns, covering 15 track and field stories in a single day and even vying with mainstream media for interviews. It was a good and fun experience for me.
A couple of difficulties were having to get past red tape before being able to get interviews, getting interviews from people who were not inclined to speak because they did not win, and having to be sensitive enough to know when to back off and not probe too much.
Through the course of this internship, I’ve seen and talked to both joyous winners and tearful runner-ups who were not too far away from coming in first. I’ve managed to see how the mainstream media worked and it has opened my eyes to the different sets of skills needed to be a good and competent journalist.
The difference between mainstream media and Red Sports was that much to our relief, we were never really pressured much by the deadlines. It was sort of an own time own target. I believe that that was what allowed us to work with what we are comfortable with and still produce unique stories.
I’m really thankful that I’ve had the privilege of being able to write for Red Sports. The Singapore Sports scene may not be considered much to people, but I really do hope that articles from Red Sports are able to highlight the achievements of our local athletes and teams.
From what I know, Uncle Les has been tasked by the Singapore Sports Council to train up reporters and photographers for the South-East Asian (SEA) Games in 2015. I am proud to say that I have already undergone his training and learnt a lot about being a journalist.
Remember, it’s beat not won! (Only people who have undergone Uncle Les’s tutelage would get this.)
Tay Jun Wen joined Red Sports as an intern at the beginning of 2013 after finishing his GCE A Levels at Serangoon Junior College. He was a prodigious writer, producing 69 stories in a short span of time. He is now serving his National Service (NS) in the Singapore Armed Forces and will study at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications at Nanyang Technological University after NS. For more details about the internship programme, go to: REDaction!