Journalist, The Star, 2009
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Professional Communication
There are pros and cons to [being a journalist]. The pros of it are that you get to be on top of things, so you’re always receiving information first-hand before disseminating it out to the public. The cons of it are that you’ve got to work hard, meet deadlines, and maintain the balance between your responsibility to the public and to the government.
08 July 2009
Going Where the Pen Takes You
Written by Christine Chan
Elizabeth Tai knows the power of the pen well: it has granted her all-expenses paid trips to the United Kingdom and brought her face-to-face with James Bond. What does this journalist at The Star have to say about life as a professional writer? Christine Chan finds out.
“I’m made for this,” says Limkokwing University alumna Elizabeth Tai, who has been a journalist for The Star for ten years. Elizabeth, whose life in the journalistic line has taken her many places and to meet many faces, knows that the writing life is no bore.
The University focuses on hands-on work, making the emphasis more practical instead of purely academic-based. Hence, when you graduate, you will be fully equipped and prepared because you will know exactly what to do in a real working environment
Her professional writing career has allowed her to get up close and personal with A-list celebrities from Hollywood, including Brad Pitt, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Bana and Pierce Brosnan. Her favourite article of her entire professional career, which was written on the United Kingdom, was made able by an all-expenses paid trip to the country for a breathtaking two weeks.
“I feel so lucky to be able to find a job I love doing and am passionate about,” confessed Elizabeth, who has envisioned herself as a writer since she was 12 years of age. To find a job you truly enjoy, she explains, is like finding a diamond in the rough.
Elizabeth sharpened her knowledge and skills in writing at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology as a student of Business Communications in 1997, which was then located at Jalan Tun Razak. A brilliant student who scored the Top Student award for multiple semesters and who was awarded a scholarship to further her studies at Curtin University in Australia, Elizabeth credits Limkokwing University for giving a good education to the students.
“The University focuses on hands-on work, making the emphasis more practical instead of purely academic-based. Hence, when you graduate, you will be fully equipped and prepared because you will know exactly what to do in a real working environment.”
Elizabeth writes for the StarMag section of The Star, which allows her to cover topics ranging from movie reviews, entertainment, beauty, travel, and even automobiles. Her life as a professional writer has also taken her to Japan and South Korea on top of the United Kingdom.
Describing herself as a ‘restless’ person who would ‘gallop’ off to different areas in order to explore and learn new things so that she will become more versatile in her writing, Elizabeth acknowledges that her biggest challenge in her writing life came when she was appointed Sub-Editor for The Star’s SectionTwo for three years.
Accepting the challenge as an adventure to be taken and overcome, Elizabeth admits that during those three years, she acquired valuable experience in mastering the technical aspect of editing and publication. Today is well-versed with the nuts and bolts of running a periodical, especially one that is as demanding as The Star, where not a single deadline is allowed to be missed and every morsel of information released must be current, accurate, relevant and on-the-dot.
How would Elizabeth sum up her views on what it is like to be a professional writer? “There are pros and cons to it,” she admits, “the pros of it are that you get to be on top of things, so you’re always receiving information first-hand before disseminating it out to the public. The cons of it are that you’ve got to work hard, meet deadlines, and maintain the balance between your responsibility to the public and to the government.”
Elizabeth, who loves reading, watching movies, traveling and blogging, has several tips to offer to journalism students who end up interviewing celebrities or famous people.
When you love writing and have a passion for it, writing will never be a chore. Every day is a brand new day with new experiences and new stories to write about
“Make sure you do a thorough research beforehand and anticipate the right questions to ask. You can start the interview with some warm-up questions to make the other party feel comfortable, and keep the tough or sensitive questions for the end,” she explains.
Elizabeth has good news for students who are interested in pursuing a professional writing career but who may not come from a Communications or Journalism studies background. “Journalism is a skill that is generally acquired during your working days, so you don’t have to worry about your lack of knowledge or experience.”
“On the other hand, a background in a different field, like a Science background for an example, will enable you to cover more articles related to that particular field.”
With such a zeal for life and learning, Elizabeth has plans to take her writing to the next step by publishing her own book. She intends to make her first book non-fiction, and until that day arrives, she intends to continue writing for the entertainment section.
Elizabeth offers some words to conclude our interview: “When you love writing and have a passion for it, writing will never be a chore. Every day is a brand new day with new experiences and new stories to write about.”