Celebrating Singapore Television 50 Years of Success through a series of exhibitions
In this segment of the virtual museum, we will take a look at how news broadcast and coverage have changed over the years. Below is the flow of this part of the virtual exhibition:
1. Brief history of news broadcast in Singapore
2. News broadcast and coverage in the earlier days
3. News presenters in the past
4. Iconic news over the years
5. Social media news
7. Set up of a typical news room for audience interaction
(Floorplan for this segment)
April 1963: 5 hours of programming each weeknight, and 10 hours each on Sat and Sun
1 jan 1980: Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) started operation
31 Dec 1993: SBC was rebranded as Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) with Channel 5, 8, and 12.
1 Jan 1996: Creation of Mediacorp
1 Jan 2002: Launched SPH mediaWorks with the channel U and I to allow competition in the television market.
1 Jan 2005: SPH MediaWorks was acquired by Mediacorp TV
In the early days, local newscasts were seen more as a public service. The style was straightforward. A newscast was divided into three “blocks”: news, sports, and weather. The news block was divided into national, international, and local stories. These newscasts usually had a solo, white male anchor, with white men announcing sports and weather as well. Sometimes, news presenter create a on-air persona that the viewers could related to and like and at times, there were slogans accompanying their news reporting. To give an example, news presenter from today’s Chinese morning news, 早安您好, will say the slogan 早安您好，明天会跟好, before the closure of the show.
The earliest news reporting in Singapore did not even have any visuals as it was done over the radio. With the introduction of TV in 1963, people started “seeing” news presenters. News broadcast in the past used technology that was relatively more backwards. Newsroom was took on a very basic look and presenters donned clothing that reflected their time. Also, news presentation has made many changes over the years. From a straightforward style in reporting and flat looking graphics to high-tech animations, news presentation reflects the change in technology adopted to present news to the masses.
In this part of the exhibition, we will be looking into the visual aspect of news presenting from the 1980s to the 21st century in Singapore.
In the 1980s, snippets of news were used to form part of the opening sequence accompanied by a polyphonic music. Flat looking graphic forms in the animation took very simple and easy motion; turnings and rotating either to the left or right. The zooming function was used to create a sense of dept. Colour blocking helped to enhance the aesthetics of the visuals. When going live, the newsroom is cropped and photograph of a Singapore scenery was used as backdrop. News presenters reported from behind the counter which in a way, created a sense of blockage between the viewers and presenter. Sometimes, a graphical/illustration projection will be screened onto the presenter’s left to provide visual aids to viewers. Surprisingly, when the news reporter took over the news presenter, the transition was abrupt and no introduction was provided for the news reporter.
News presenter donned short cropped hair with visibly large earings, wearing clothes that reflect their time. The clothes were mostly of muted toned.
In 2001, the visuals used for news presenting became a little more hi-tech. This, however seems to create a very superficial environment. Instead of a polyphonic music as opening, a more harmonious opening music is used. The graphics used not only runs in one direction. This time, it goes in opposing directions. The newsroom was replaced by virtual reality; 3D animations of newsroom and props (LCD screens, lights, a very gallery styled environment) were used. News reporters in 2001 were being introduced to, with the use of lower-third to provide introduction of news reporters to the viewers. News presenter still wore a clean hairstyle which were more fashionable and contemporary. The attire donned remain muted in colour.
In 2013, presentation of news reporting took on another level. Not only were changes introduced, old ways of news reporting was introduced back to the system. For example, news started with a snippets of news to form part of the opening sequence. This was a method which was seen in the 1980s. News opening is accompanied by harmonious and uplifting music. This is then followed by the opening of the news program. There are more complex motions; overlapping and intersecting in motion. The newsroom, on the other hand, changed from a virtual space back to a physical space. Large flat TV screens are used to project the opening sequence and runs in a loop. With better technology, the visuals can be seen with smoother flow. Also, laptop replaced the existence of paper script and even animation is used for the lower third titles. The presenter maintained the clean look which was observed since 1980s. However, in terms of the colour of their attire, it changed from being muted and dull to vibrant colours now.
In this segment, we will look at two news presenters in the past, namely, Ducan Watt and Chin Kwee Nyet.
“ Going into that newsroom for the first time was an eye-opener. it was one big long room and there were the Malay reporters and writers plus their typewriters, there were the Tamil news reporters, the English and then there were the Chinese. And these typewriters just went rattling on, the noise was unbelievable. These great big typewriters that had to produce four of five, maybe even six pages of typing, all with carbon paper so the typists had to type so hard to get the bottom copy to be able to read it even. And the only table that was quiet was the Chinese table, the Mandarin table because there they were all writing in Mandarin, they were writing in scripted Mandarin because they didn’t have typewriters for that. But for the rest it was a noisy room, it was filled with smoke because a lot of the reporters or editors they were smoking away, stomping out their cigarettes and writing and then these other people would be typing. It was bedlam in there. When I left, the newsroom was silent, apart from a little bit of clacking of the keyboard, but it was just completely silent because we were all on computers by the time I left.”
Below is an email interview we did with Chin Kwee Nyet, a news presenter with Mediacorp Channel 8.
Please tell us in brief your news presenting journey with the TV company.
I worked for channel 8 as a news presenter for 18 years. That would be 20 years if you were to include the 2 years working as a freelance news presenter. From 1981 to 2001, I started off being the news presenter for the 8-9PM news then the 6:30PM news and finally the 10PM news.
I was exposed to news presenting at the age of 12 as i participated in a children training class held by the TV company. At the age of 13-14, I took up a class to perfect my pronunciation of words then started recording with the Children Radio company. When i was in university, i was working as a freelance news presenter. Upon graduation, i worked as a news presenter.
During my time, the radio broadcast and TV broadcast were under one company and it was called TCS, which later become SBC then Mediacorp. This changes, however, did not affect the news department. News is still news after all.
I left the broadcasting company in 2001 and am currently a lecturer with NUS.
The reason why i took this career path was because when i was young, i liked career with many challenges and news presenting fall under this category. During the 20 years in news presenting, i worked very hard. Apart from news presenting, i also took part in overseas news interview and coverage. After i left the news broadcasting company, i worked 3 years as a executive producer for 《早安您好》.
Please tell us the first or/and any impression of the newsroom and how is it different from today’s newsroom.
Basically, there are not many changes in terms of operation procedures. In terms of technology, machines used in the past had to be operated by man but now they are automated. The changes are vast. In the past, there were limited news content. Today, readers have more selections to read news due to increasing competition from, say cable TV.
In the 70s, the TV announcer takes on the role of the news presenter. After, news presenter were engaged from Taiwan. In the 80s, locals were hired as news presenter and by the 90s, news presenter were hired from China. To sum up, there were a lot of fresh faces from the 1970s-1990s.
My most memorable experience was in 1990. I had to do an interview about Lee Kuan Yew thus was at China. That was my first time stepping onto China. During that period, I had to work under a different environment. For example, i had to send the footages to China during the busiest period. At the same time, they had to be sent over to Singapore in time in order for it to be screened.
The job of a news presenter is a demanding one. It is a constant race against time. This, despite time, remains the same.
Please describe the preparation work involved before going on air
Before a news presenter goes live, the news (internationally and locally) which will be reported are already translated and prepared. Sometimes, a news presenter might be tasked to either translate or be involved in background recordings.
2 hours before the news broadcast, news presenter must have their make-up on, be in the proper attire, and vet through the script to ensure proper sentence structure, enunciation and expression of words. There is no need for us to memorise our script as they will be screened for us. However, one must have a certain knowledge and understanding of the news especially for names of foreigners. To provent oneself from wrong script reading is a skill itself and this includes the understanding of language, ability to think quickly and be focused.
Was there a dress-code for news presenting? If not, how do the company dress you for your work?
The dress code for news presenters change over time. In the 1980s, news presenters have to purchase their own attire. I recall staying away from wearing clothing that looked too similar. In the late 1980s, the TV company issued reimbursement for attire purchasing. During this period, most news presenter would exceed their budget.
From the 1990s onwards, we started to have sponsors. Not only do we have clothes sponsors, we also have hair stylists. It was then quite a glorious period for us. Apart from sponsors, we were also given benefits. Also, appearance was an important element in the 1990s thus stylists were engaged to ensure that we maintain the standards of news presenters.
Do you know of the procedures involved then for news presenting?
In the past, all news presenter had to go through the production training. One will undergo training to edit footages, conduct interviews, scripting and filming. A news presenter must be a all-rounder. A Chinese news presenter must be proficient in mandarin and english and be knowledgeable. Team work is also an important element in TV broadcasting thus one must be able to communicate well with people. And also because of this, the TV broadcasting company could be a complex workplace.
During my 12 years, i have seen changes in people and things. Despite these, the Tv broadcasting company continues to thrive.
<End of interview>
Let’s now take a look at a typical day in the newsroom. This video shows Zhang Hai Jie first news broadcast after her a 6 years break.
This section will project a number of iconic news footages including Channel NewsAsia’s documentary programme – We Made the News!
Taking a look back at the top news events of Singapore. This short documentary will also identify the people who either featured in those iconic scenes, or helped made those scenes happen. Trace the people and stories that have helped to shape Singapore.
On 15 February 1963, thousands of Singaporeans gathered at the Victoria Memorial Hall to witness the first pictures and sounds coming out from Television Singapura. As we celebrate television’s golden jubilee, we also celebrate those who made the news with us. Host Wee Soon Hui, a former newsreader and actress who played Mrs Tay in Growing Up goes on a journey to uncover the stories behind the newsmakers – ordinary Singaporeans who played a part in shaping Singapore’s history, of telling Singapore’s story.
1. Separation – 9 August 1965
Cracks in Singapore-Malaya ties had started to appear, but few were prepared for the breakup of a union that had been so vigorously campaigned for.
2. First National Day Parade – 9 August 1966
Over 23,000 people took part in the pomp and pageantry of a parade held to mark the nation’s first birthday since it separated from Malaysia.
3. Citizen Soldiers – 1967
National Service was made compulsory in 1967 after the British withdrew from Singapore.
4. From Kampong to Estate – 1960s
The first HDB flats were built in the 1960s with the aim of providing basic public housing for the masses who were then living in slums or kampongs.
5. Days of Glory – 1970s to 90s
The intense rivalry between the Lions and their opponents made for many an exciting Malaysia Cup match, both at home and across the Causeway.
6. Hotel New World Collapse – 15 March 1986
The collapse of the six-storey Lian Yak Building better known as Hotel New World triggered a five-day search-and-rescue operation. 17 people survived, 33 others died.
7. 1st MRT Service – 7 November 1987
The first train ride covered just five stations from Toa Payoh to Yio Chu Kang and lasted all of 10 minutes. It attracted more than 120,000 passengers.
8. Foiling of the SIA Hijack – 26 March 1991
Four men onboard flight SQ 117 hijacked the plane to demand the release of nine prisoners detained in Pakistan including the husband of Benazir Bhutto.
9. SilkAir’s Final Flight – 19 December 1997
When SilkAir MI 185 nosedived into the Musi river near Palembang, it took with it the lives of all 104 people, including crew members.
10. A Cultural Icon – 12 October 2002
Singapore should have a performing arts centre, the idea was first mooted in the 1970s. But what shape should it take?
This segment will project the 10 videos on individual screens on loop and take the audience on the brief journey of iconic news from 1965’s Separation to 2002’s Cultural Icon. Finally the 45 minutes documentary – We Made the News will be projected at the end of the walkway.
Due to technological changes over the years, news broadcasting and reporting has come a long way and has evolved into the current social media and online platform. The traditional news broadcasting over the TV has somewhat diversified into various platforms and made readily available for the audiences to view at any point of time. MediaCorp Studios and Singapore Press Holdings have developed their online news coverage platforms with contents spanning from the World News, latest local news, to various lifestyle and entertainment news. This section of the exhibition will provide users with online browsing interaction and exploring the news coverage and videos on the platforms that is commonly used today.
Audience will be able to browse the various online news platforms displayed individually on each of the 5 iPads along with headphones. Users can move from each station to explore the different interactive media news sites listed below:
1. Channel NewsAsia
Channel NewsAsia Singapore was established in March 1999 by MediaCorp, and is an English language Asian TV News channel. Positioned to “Understand Asia”, it reports on global developments with Asian perspectives. Channel NewsAsia brings viewers not only the latest news but also the stories behind the headlines. Based in Singapore, it has correspondents in major Asian cities and key Western ones, including New York, Washington D.C, London and Brussels.
The channel is complemented by an online presence at channelnewsasia.com, and social media services like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.
The audience will be able to browse and view latest videos covering various news headlines. The “Live TV” section will stream live shows that is being broadcasted on Channel NewsAsia International channel.
2. Razor TV
Provides news updates as well as stories from the daily newspaper. Has also a section hosting news-clips from ST TV.
Award-winning STOMP, or Straits Times Online Mobile Print, is Asia’s leading citizen-journalism website with user-generated material. Often news reports are also complimented with videos and pictures.
Also big on social networking, enabling thousands to come together to interact and bond both online and offline in various TalkBack forums, and in Singapore Seen.
The online version of TODAY, TODAYonline provides news, commentaries, features, reviews, blogs and multimedia content.
xinmsn.com is a collaboration between MediaCorp & Microsoft Singapore, providing audiences with exciting Entertainment, Lifestyle, News & Sports bilingual content under one roof. The site has both English and Chinese versions.
Originated November 4, 2007 to present, The Noose is a parody of local news programmes such as News 5 Tonight, with fictional news reports and a presentation mimicking that of the actual news.
The sitcom features topics of relevant current issues of Singapore. It is interesting to see how news has taken form as a mockumentary and comedic body in the current day. This section of the exhibition will display a number of episodes from The Noose.
The final part of this segment of our news exhibition is an actual news room and broadcasting setup. Besides displaying the aesthetics and design of a newsroom, audiences will be able to role-play as a newscaster. A news script would be prepared and displayed on a screen in front of them and as they read, a live feed of the video would be displayed on the screen behind them.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Dr Chin Kwee Nyet for her participation in an email interview. We appreciate it alot!
Duncan Watt, Newsreader, 1980-1998- Channel News Asia
50 years of TV in Singapore- The Straits Times Community
Media in the 1960s
CNA unveils plans to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday