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Journalist of the month: Singaporean K-pop fan turned news editor

Blog post   •   Aug 07, 2014 11:00 +08

This month, we speak to Singaporean K-pop fan turned owner of a Korean entertainment news site, James Chan. He shared tips on how to pitch stories to lifestyle and entertainment writers.

I receive an average of... 2-3 press releases of various kinds per week. There are seasonal peaks as well.

My main subject areas are... We started with a strong focus on Korean entertainment. Now we are more into lifestyle; we cover other entertainment areas, fashion, travel and electronic launches. As for myself, I have a keen interest in travel and food, but not forgetting the beautiful Korean girl groups.

The best thing about being a journalist is... The opportunity to meet celebrities up-close and to attend expensive concerts and exclusive events. But sheer hard work is due in the preparations, so as to look well-informed during the events. Personally, I enjoy being the first to try various commercial products and to find out about upcoming events. Sound pretty shallow, don't I?

Share about development process of a story...  I like to look into the lesser known areas of the subject first, rather than what people can obviously see. My structured process would be:

  • Conceptualise - Idea development
  • Look for selling point - What about this idea that will captivate readers?
  • Research
  • Write
  • Publish
  • Follow up - Any interesting responses that warrants another view into the story?

Challenges as a journalist.. I often need to cover unfamiliar topics or events where I have no idea who the artists are.  This requires lots of research. When I have to include their names in the article, it is even worse. We often hear from our friends how 'all Koreans look alike'. At Korean events, we sometimes struggle to identify who is who.

What makes a good story for you? A story that is concise and easy to read. Some writers are obsessed with details, eager to show they have done their homework. Consequently, they drown readers with so much to read!

Suggestions to PR / Communications staff... Let go of minute details and focus on the key message. If possible, repeat the key message a couple of times in the article. The more you repeat, the easier it is for us to remember the key point.

Worst Press release received... There is no worst press release, only the problematic ones that got the facts wrong.

The best time of day to send press releases to me... Any time of the day is a good time. But send it in advance instead of right before the event. 

When stories should be pitched to me... If it is a good story, there is no need to pitch.

Will paid, independent, impartial media eventually die out? As long as the Internet stands, I do not see how such media can die out. But the passion to continue writing candid, impartial stories may not survive. Perhaps advertisers should start paying the media for such honest coverage. These stories are juicier than what 'controlled' media usually provide.

Why did you start KAvenyou? KAvenyou was started to spice up our dull corporate lives. At that time, I was sucked into the Korean wave; why not venture into something bigger rather than only be a fan? These were my exact thoughts. Being a marketer by education and a techie by experience, starting a digital entertainment portal seemed to be the perfect combination. 

Is there a gap between the needs of bloggers & journalists? The line between bloggers and journalists are blurring. I will very much like to believe that traditional bloggers write to satisfy their need for attention or channel their emotions, since many traditional blogs are very self-centred and talk about themselves more than anything else. Yet there is a growing number of good bloggers producing content akin to journalists' work. With their agendas and roles overlapping, there is hardly any disparities between their needs. 

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