WHEN Jennifer Woo, 16, and her friends need their daily dose of news, they don’t just flip through a newspaper: they also scroll through their phones.

While Woo does read the paper – “I love the comics section!” she said with a smile – the convenience of new media makes it easier for her to get news updates wherever she is. That’s why she downloaded a news app.

“I like it because the app features a lot of short videos. Their articles aren’t very long either, and swiping my screen makes me feel like there isn’t too much to read,” she said.

Woo is part of a new generation of news consumers, who get their information through new media, like digital videos and social media.

That’s why young journalist workshop, BRATs, is constantly updating the skills taught during the camp.

Organised by The Star’s award-winning R.AGE team, BRATs reflects R.AGE’s own constant upgrading to suit the market’s needs.

“The format of the camp always changes,” said R.AGE editor Ian Yee. “The things that we teach them have moved from mainly doing stories, to doing TV-style reporting, and now to doing social media-style videos.”

Over the years, R.AGE itself has seen many incarnations. It has evolved from a print pullout to its most recent form, an award-winning documentary team that has received accolades like the World Young Reader Prize for its work, including investigative series Predator in My Phone.

But on top of just producing content, R.AGE has successfully used new media to its advantage, using chat apps and social media platforms to mobilise the public into action.

That’s what R.AGE aims to teach young aspiring journalists – how to use the technological tools available to change the world.

“In the past, we used to say that the most important thing for a journalist to develop is the instinct to find a good story. But in this increasingly digitised world, journalists also need videography and editing skills, and even coding,” – R.AGE editor Ian Yee

At BRATs, not only do the young participants learn the basics of journalism, like interviewing skills, journalistic ethics and writing, they also learn first-hand how to shoot and edit videos, and social media skills.

“It’s important to learn these skills,” said BRATs alumnus Chong Jinn Lik, 16.

“Even if you don’t become a journalist, you never know if your job might require you to produce videos.

“I feel like BRATs helped improve my video skills, like which shots are good and how to capture good angles and close-up shots.”

R.AGE teaches young aspiring journalists to use the technological tools available so they, too, can change the world.

BRATs aims to arm a new generation of youth with the tools to use and embrace new media, but it also arms them with the skills they need to navigate this sometimes-confusing new world.

Thanks to social media’s open platform, almost anybody can upload content, which has led to a new phenomenon – fake news.

But with the journalistic skills BRATs arms its participants with, it’s easier for them to separate truth from fiction: an important weapon in the Facebook battlefield.

“A lot of the training at BRATs is about teaching them to think critically and objectively,” said Yee. “Journalists have a responsibility to the community, to get both sides of the story and to always be fair to all parties.”

But despite all the technological advancements, the spirit of BRATs always remains the same: good old journalism, and the wonder of discovering new

Former BRAT Jonathan Peter-Oswin Dason, the current secretary general of Malaysian Students Global Alliance feels that he has greatly benefited by learning these skills at camp.

“BRATs has taught me that there is always a different side to the story and to find it, that often means you have to move beyond your comfort zone” he said.

“It is very easy to fall into an echo chamber because the news feed algorithms shows you what you generally like,” he added.

“With BRATs, you get the tools you need to explore a bigger world.”

If you’re a young Malaysian aged 16-19, join the #BRATsFam! Log on to to sign up for our Nov/Dec camp. Submissions close Nov 10!

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