If it was their first time meeting a minister on Tuesday, the 10 finalist teams of The Straits Times National Youth Media Competition never showed it.
At a mock press conference, they addressed the topic of volunteerism like pros, asking questions such as "How do you intend to get young people, who are not interested, to serve?" and "Why are the youth being targeted for volunteerism but not adults?"
They even cornered Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, asking him how he maintained a work-life balance. An impressed Mr Wong said: "Their questions were very good, especially when they probed and asked about my personal experience. It's what I would expect a journalist to ask."
The conference was the first of yesterday's assignments for the competition, which included a street poll and a personality profile. The 24-hour challenge ended at 9am today as students turned in the last of their breaking news updates, a video and their front page of The Straits Times.
Teams of six, whose members ranged in age from 13 to 17 years, represented local and international schools. They are: Bukit View Secondary, Xinmin Secondary, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Girls' High School, Seng Kang Secondary, Singapore American School, School of the Arts, Victoria School, Raffles Institution and NPS International School.
The contest is the revamped Straits Times National Schools Newspaper Competition, and includes multimedia components.
Students gleaned tips from ST journalist mentors - Miss Lyn Chan, special projects editor for straitstimes.com, defence correspondent Jermyn Chow, Urban journalist Leslie Kay Lim and ST executive photojournalist Neo Xiaobin - and used them at an interview with professional cyclist Lemuel Lee, 22, of the OCBC Pro Cycling Team, whom the teams had to profile. "They weren't just asking textbook questions, one of them had researched a case study too," he noted.
OCBC Bank, the first-time presenting sponsor, chose the topic of sports to be more accessible to teens. Ms Koh Ching Ching, its head of group corporate communications, hoped they would "stretch their talents in creative expression, and in the process gain confidence and self-esteem".
Canon Singapore is the official imaging and technology partner, while Adobe is the official software and training partner. Teams used Canon cameras and Adobe's online software suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, to design their Straits Times front page using InDesign and Photoshop software.
The winning team will score a $3,000 cash prize, Canon Pixma printers and a three-week internship in The Straits Times newsroom. The silver award is worth $2,000 and the bronze, $1,000. Besides subsidiary awards, there are also two Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablets up for grabs.
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