TIPS FOR THE FELLOWSHIP PROCESS
(with thanks to previous Myer and AKF Fellows)
The Star Alison Dunn in 2009
The most important attribute you can bring to this internship is an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the perspectives of others. Be open to be challenged by new environments, and to interact with people whose stories, beliefs and values differ from your own.
Applying for the Fellowship
Think carefully about your motives for applying. Why did you select Kuala Lumpur? What do you hope to achieve at The Star? Is there a particular issue you'd like to explore?
It's not crucial, but having some published work helps. It doesn't have to be a thrilling expose or the next Watergate; everyone has to start somewhere. Your local paper, small magazines or student-run publications are great places to start. That way, you'll have a much firmer grasp of what exactly it is you want out of your final year internship, and how this Fellowship will help you achieve it.
The Star offers opportunities to advance journalistic proficiency in both print and online video. You have a fantastic opportunity to cross between mediums however, four weeks is a very short time; you may find it beneficial to stick with a single department where you can quickly adapt to the stylistic framework as well as really getting to know people you are working with.
The Multimedia Department is made up of a diverse and wonderfully engaging group of people who, like most Malaysians, express a fondness for Milo, dangerously spicy food, and air-conditioning set to Arctic blizzard. Chat to the other interns, many of whom undertake longer three-month placements, and can offer an insight to the teaching of journalism in Malaysia as well as help with any technical qualms! The Department uses Adobe Premier Pro, however, it's easy to adapt if you have a basic grasp of digital editing software like Final Cut Pro.
The Star is run by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), so be aware that issues affecting the Malaysian Chinese community will be particularly pertinent. It's important to read the competition The New Straits Times and keep updated with alternative news sources, such as Malaysiakini.
Spruiking your story; getting published
Pitching ideas might seem daunting, but if you've thought it through, made interview contacts and structured an original angle, your story will stand strong. Always have a few story ideas up your sleeve a slow news day might just be the opportunity to pursue that story you have been mulling over for weeks!
Engaging with others
Within the office, everyday etiquette is relaxed and straightforward. When interacting with interviewees it's important to be mindful of socio-cultural customs. After shaking hands, Muslims bring the right hand to the chest as a sign of respect. Objects (such as business cards) should be passed and received with two hands. Pointing with a finger is considered rude - gesture with the thumb or entire hand. Dress appropriately and take shoes off when entering homes, temples or mosques. After a few weeks you'll do these things by instinct, and come back to Australia with some new habits!
It's great to learn some basic Bahasa Malaysia even whipping out your phrase book shows people you are interested in their culture and language (and stumbling over pronunciations always proves an ice-breaker!).
Travelling prior to your placement is a great way to familiarise yourself with customs, sights and sounds of a culture which will form an integral part of your journalistic work. Venture out of the city! Home stays can be easily arranged, offering a genuine feel for Malaysian hospitality. Malaysian Borneo is a place of dreams and completely different to Peninsula Malaysia with amazing mountains to climb, reefs to dive, and rainforests to be attacked by leeches. Leave your gear in KL and backpack it's the best way to travel!
Remember that you will have experiences you like, and experiences you don't like; but no experience is wasted.
It will be unforgettable.
The Star Camilla Ibrahim in 2009
Compile an impressive CV and portfolio: write for any publication possible, undertake work experience at a media company, compile a showreel if possible and gather some solid work/character references. You must demonstrate a genuine interest in journalism and intention to pursue this as a career path. You must also demonstrate interest and knowledge about the country you wish to be placed and explain how the context or issues may be aligned with your existing interests or studies. You can even show your initiative by running your ideas for potential stories by the judging panel. The interview process was not as intimidating as I thought it would be, but it is likely that you will be quizzed on specific historical and political events or issues so be sure that you are well read!
Working at The Star:
At The Star you will have an option to work in the multimedia department and print. Whatever you choose to do, you will be given a great deal of autonomy and you will have to be very assertive. Our supervisor told us we would be 'thrown into the deep end' and on the first day I was given a cameraman and sent out to cover a story on Barack Obama's inauguration. The bulk of my work was in multimedia which involved me writing the script, reporting, editing and partially directing every piece. As I was working during the Chinese New Year period and not many employees wanted to work over this holiday period, it meant that I was one of the only people in the office and was often editing until 3am. Due to the stringent media laws in Malaysia, and The Star's political affiliations (it is owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association), the media content is skewed and invariably reflects underlying political loyalities. I found that we were encouraged to steer clear of hard politics and pushed to cover stories of a more celebratory tone. This was a great way to start but I quickly began to feel very unsatisfied and I wanted to explore more serious and stories. When we had gained the trust of our supervisors, we were indeed able to delve deeper into topical and pressing issues and adopt an investigative approach (although our work was still always supervised). The media laws are extremely stringent in Malaysia and you will undoubtedly find that censorship encroaches on your journalistic practice in some way or another. It is important to be sensitive, frame your stories thoughtfully and trust that Malaysian readers can often read between the lines. One tip I would stress is that it is extremely important that you see your work right through to its publication stage. Do not rely on anyone to upload your videos for you and make sure you check your articles before they go to print. I hardly recognised one of my articles after it had gone through the filters of editing and censorship and in the end, it was my name that was on the work. Malaysia has a diverse culture and a rich social tapestry. The population is comprised primarily of Malays, Indians and Chinese ethnicities. On a typical day, you will walk down a street draped with Chinese lanterns, beside women wearing saffron and tumeric coloured saris while the call to prayer resonates from the mosque mineret. The festivals are vibrant and unforgettable and we had a chance to join in on Chinese New Year celebrations and the Thaipusam festival. It should be noted however that the vast majority Malaysians are quite conservative so it is important to observe cultural sensitivity and be modest in your dress and comments. Religion is an integral part of Malay life, Islam being the official religion, so it is important that you are aware of the beliefs and codes of etiquette before your stay in Kuala Lumpur. While there were challenges along the way, towards the end of the internship I began to see these as opportunities rather than obstacles: I was able to cultivate vital journalistic skills to be assertive, resourceful and to think outside the square.
Where to Stay: Alison and I stayed at the Peninsula Residences at Damansara Heights. It is very plush, modern and has great facilities. We could have chosen cheaper options but the previous fellow, Rosie Lockhart, stayed here when she did her internship so we trusted her judgement. It was a five minute taxi drive from work (in good traffic) and ten minutes to Mid-Valley shopping mall. This hotel is between KL and Petaling Jaya (where The Star is located) so it is a perfect midway if you want to explore in KL as well. We stayed in very spacious rooms with kitchenettes for 3000 MYR per month (monthly internet access rate additional). I would definitely recommend this hotel to the next fellows.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer Krisanne Alcantara in 2008
What to bring:
Don't leave without a tape recorder, digital camera and USB stick. A laptop is useful, although not a must as long as you have a USB stick that you can save all your work onto, you shouldn't need to bring your laptop around as there are always spare computers at each beat you will be assigned to.
Also be prepared for any situation; bring at least one piece of clothing for every occasion on my very first week I was sent to the Malacanang Palace beat for Vin Honneur, the diplomat's ball, dresscode: semi-formal. Luckily, I brought black pants and a decent blouse. You can, of course, buy clothes there, but you'll often find the sizing system a bit funny (I did) and you don't really have a lot of time to shop. T-shirts are a must (it's a furnace outside), but always carry a light cardigan in your bag because the air-conditioning is always on full-blast wherever you go.
Where to stay:
I highly recommend a serviced apartment Charter House behind Glorietta 5 has low rates for long stays, and is in an ideal position right next to 3 major shopping centres, eateries, internet cafes and nightlife all within walking distance.
Transport: It's important to be wary of cab drivers in the Philippines while most are honest people, some (due to desperation and poverty) will try to take advantage of foreigners. Always remember that a cab fare will not cost more than P150 (150 pesos) when traveling within Metro Manila Makati area, no matter how heavy the traffic. Make sure as soon as you get into the cab that the meter is running, and always text the number of the cab (written on the inside of the door) and company to either a workmate, your trainer or someone you're staying with. It's always better to be cautious. I'd strongly suggest to learn how to hail a tuk-tuk or jeepney (it's only P7.50, which is like, 2 cents) not only are they really fun to ride, but once you learn how to use them you can pretty much get anywhere.
Travel: The Philippines is a beautiful country and the flights are so cheap! The island provinces are unbelievable, and a flight from Manila to world-famous Boracay is only about $60 AUD on average. Make the most of your experience there by travelling on the weekends or before/after your internship. Your trainers will most probably show you around and don't be shy to ask them to take you to places like Subic or Baguio, a couple of hours out of Manila.
Sightsee: Malacanang Palace and Senate beats don't usually get exciting until the afternoon (12-1), so use the mornings to explore Manila, Makati and Quezon City, or even the amazing Palace grounds (you'll need a pass, but it's easy to arrange with the Palace's Media Relations Office).
Read: This is probably a given, but read the Inquirer every single day. You will meet everyone from Congressman, Senators to the media on each beat, and it's always nice to be informed and have something to discuss.
- Come to the Philippines without ideas of what to write about. On your first day, you will most probably meet the Inquirer's publisher, Isagani Yambot, who will ask you what you're interested in and this is an ideal time to pitch some stories so you can get his OK and get started straight away, and he can issue you a press badge immediately.
Have fun! This is an amazing opportunity you've been given. Make the most of it. Sightsee, take pictures, talk to locals (practically everyone speaks English, which is a plus) - all of this will give you great material for your stories.
The Phnom Penh Post Sarah Whyte 2009, Gemma Deavin 2008, Kate Evans 2006 and Leesha McKenny 2005
Working in Phnom Penh for five weeks in February 2009 was an amazing experience that you will never forget! Below is a culmination of tips from four fellows - Leesha, Kate, Gemma and myself to give you a rough picture of what it's like working in Phnom Penh. Of course, your experience could be completely different to what we have written... but here are some tips to start with:
It's normal to go into interviews feeling nervous, especially if you have your heart set on something, but you needn't be if you're prepared. Think of it as a chance to discuss something you're really passionate about. If you are genuinely interested in working in and applying for a certain country, doing your research and absorbing anything and everything you can about it should be a pleasure. Learn the basics - the political arena, history, national and regional issues - inside out but also be ready to offer your own thoughts and personal interests and reasons for wanting to work in a specific country or the specific newspaper. There's a very good chance you will also be asked about story ideas, past travel experiences or be presented with scenarios so it's good to give the whole process some thought as well as keeping an open mind.
Before you go
Apart from the obvious booking of flights, insurance for additional travel (the university's insurance covers you for the duration of your internship) and squeezing everything into a backpack there are a few things I would definitely recommend doing before you set off.
- Read at least four books on the country's history - political, economic, cultural You want to arrive in your country with a broad knowledge you can build on as you dive into writing articles and becoming more intimately involved with life and society around you. The Khmer Rouge and UNTAC periods are essential background knowledge, especially if you're expected to report on relating issues. If you want to keep reading, once you arrive in Cambodia it's easy to pick up cheap history books at the markets. I also found journal articles, using the libraries online resources, very informative and a good place to start thinking about and forming rough story ideas.
- Start reading the Post (www.phnompenhpost.com) and the competition, the Cambodia Daily. It's important to get a feel for the paper and the stories they run. Moreover, this gives you an unparalleled insight into recent events and central and recurring issues in Cambodia.
- Learn some basic Khmer. It is wonderful to be able to sustain a simple conversation. The smiles, laughs and appreciation you get in return is very special. Start off with hello, thank you, please, how are you, numbers, turn left, turn right, stop, no and yes!
- I know writing goals is totally uncool but I maintain that the process of putting your aspirations down on paper makes them more realistic and achievable. In this case it can also serve as a map for the way you might want to attack your time overseas. If you think about the number and type of stories or outcomes you want from your internship before you start you are likely to fulfill them by the end.
- Make sure you are armed with essentials like a Dictaphone, a laptop (very useful in Phnom Penh with limited computer access in the office, although this situation may have changed) and a USB!
Have some US $$ in small denominations - $1 are handy and it helps if
you try and break this into riel. Basically how it works is that US dollars are the notes, and riel functions like coins.... 4000 riel is one dollar US.
Take a tuk-tuk from the airport. This will cost you US $7 or a taxi will cost you US $8. I would recommend the Tuk-tuk as you get to watch the Cambodian life fly past you- a family of six on a bike, seventeen hallucinating pigs in a basket on a bike, and many, many curious stares while you are breathing in the distinctive Asian smell! Just make sure you hold on tightly to your luggage!
For trips around the city I took motos. Should cost you around 2000 riel. If you find a moto taxi you trust, you should get his number and you can get him to pick you up from parties late at night... good safety option. Try and buy a cheap helmet. There are new helmet laws (which don't actually apply to passengers) but at least you feel a little safer as the bike zips in and out of the hectic traffic.
In any country you need to be aware of your safety. Phnom Penh is no different. Take your common sense with you and there should be no problems. Always hold on to your bags tightly, placed it in front of you when riding on a moto (if possible, don't carry bags). As John Howard once aptly said: Be alert but not alarmed.
Bring a first aid kit though (the only clinic is SOS and it's really expensive, so travel insurance is a must) and WATCH OUT FOR THE MOTO EXHAST BURN, because it really, really hurts. And everyone gets it.
Leesha, Kate, Gemma and I stayed at OK guesthouse (a five minute walk from the Phnom Penh Centre). My suggestion would be to stay there for the first week and then look for other accommodation near the Post. I found it a little run down since the other Fellows had stayed there. All the backpackers stay by the Lake which is this weird little backpacker ghetto, khao san road-y, and totally unlike the rest of town, so I would avoid it.
Learn about the history of Cambodia and basic politics. The KR and UNTAC periods are so widely known about it's a given that you know the back story, especially if you're expected to report on it. You can get tonnes of cheap history books at the markets. Start reading the Post (www.phnompenhpost.com) and the Cambodia Daily. Learn some of the language if you can such as A-turn left, turn right, yes, no, please, thankyou, numbers, how are you etc are helpful. Som toh, ot mein loi is a great phrase for dealing with
beggars (sorry, I have no money).
On the first Friday of every month there is an awesome party at Elsewhere, a beautiful bar with a pool in an old French villa... loads of aid workers and journos, a bit of the expat ghetto vibe which is really hard to avoid in PP- but absolutely fabulous!
The FCC (foreign correspondents club) is not very authentic anymore but they have great happy hour cocktails and beautiful views down the riverside. The good place to go on your first night and to take any visitors on their first night! It's good to know where it is as a bearing for those moto drivers who look at little lost!
Friends is an amazing restaurant that trains street kids to cook and waiter... and the food is fantastic. There is often a queue to get in, as every lonely planet reader is highly recommended to eat there (would be a great story to have a look at the impact of the lonely planet in PP- does it affect businesses, trade and perceptions? It rare to find a tourist without a lonely planet tucked under their arms!)
Get used to condensed milk in your coffee. Try Pho- beef noodle soup. So great!
Bring your mobile and buy a sim card, it's really helpful. The phone lines are terrible. If you get stuck just go to one of the phone booths along the road (a person sitting next to a booth with numbers on it) A- you use their phone and then pay them afterwards, it's really cheap. NB- you can also just buy a $30 Nokia phone when you're there- this is the option most expats go for.
Allow some time to see the country a bit if you can. You can do 'snookyville' in a weekend, Mondulkiri, Kampot (lovely little riverside retreat stay in the Bodhi Villa or Les Manguiers). Ratanakiri is meant to be amazing too. Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is a must see, a step out of the hectic life of Phnom Penh, but a total tourist trap. Check out the new Angkor museum there. I spent four hours there!
Lucky is the supermarket extraordinaire along Sihanouk Boulevard (the street with the big monument). You can get pretty much anything here.
There is a nice hostel/restaurant (the Bodhi Tree) opposite Tuol Sleng, (S-21) which is a good place to get your brain and stomach back after thinking about how horrible the Khmer Rouge were.
The Russian Market (Psar Tuol Tompong) is the best market for just about everything... Bargain like crazy.
And finally, working at the Post is unlike any other journalism job you'll ever do. Now as a daily newspaper, there are always opportunities for stories. Don't be afraid to ask your editor often for stories- with so many interns coming in, you have to remind them you are there and eager to work!
Working in Cambodia can be a bit hard at times for various reasons, but if you're prepared for that, ask questions and make the editors know you're there to report, you can expect to come home with quite an impressive portfolio!
Cambodia is a great, if mixed up, edgy country. It can be hilarious and tragic at the same time and you can see why it's so easy to fall in love with it. It's just one of those places that gets under your skin and is one of the most dynamic countries to work in. There is always news in Cambodia!
Seoul, Republic of Korea
The Korea Herald
Jessica Carter in 2009
Arriving in Korea
In order to arrive as prepared as possible for your internship, I would recommend doing as much reading/talking/net-surfing as you can before arriving. By all means borrow out some history books on Korea from the library, but also make sure you google things like Korean pop culture (start with the fabulous singer Rain) and Korean bloggers (there's a fantastic english language blogging community in Seoul). Get your hands on some tourist guides to get an idea of what you're in for, and prod around for friends of friends who might be from Korea (there's quite a large Korean community in Sydney).
It's also a good idea to learn a few basic terms in Korean as not everyone there speaks english.
Working at the Australian Embassy
The week at the Australian Embassy is both fun and a really great chance to meet people. The Australian Embassy is also a great resource for story ideas, contacts, and information on helping you settle in to the Korean way of life. It's a great idea to keep in touch with the department you work with at the Australian Embassy throughout your time in Seoul, I found them really useful and just lovely people to be around.
Koreans are big on swapping business cards at every possible occasion so make sure you carry yours with you, invest a few dollars in a fabulously cute cardholder (you'll find them everywhere), and start collecting business cards from the moment you arrive. It's a really great way of starting to think about story ideas because you'll have a clearer idea of the sort of people you can get in touch with.
Making the most of your time in Korea
Korea is an incredibly fascinating and vibrant country. Seoul alone (where you'll be placed for the internship) is one of the weirdest and most wonderful places I have ever been. In order to come up with story ideas for your newspaper, perhaps one of the most useful things you can do is to make sure you are really making the most of living in Korea. Go and see art exhibits (Korea has a great contemporary art scene, but the historical stuff like calligraphy is just beautiful too), performances, visit the many temples and shrines, make sure you go to the Korean baths (jimjilbang), go to a karaoke room (noraebang), and eat lots of spicy Korean food! You can get cheap flights from Seoul to other parts of Korea too - you might find that you're too busy during your internship to travel elsewhere but it's worth flying home a little later to do some more travel if possible.
Kelly Royds in 2009
Make sure you are healthy, enthusiastic and ready for freezing temperatures. I recommend preparing for Korea's subway squeeze by traveling around Sydney only in peak hour, going to festivals and dancing exclusively in the mosh-pit, and balancing on the bus hands free!
It is also a good idea to learn a little Korean. Just enough to read directions, and be able to direct a taxi home.
First things first: get a manicure, buy some orange tights, listen to some Korean boy bands and prepare yourself for a bustling, body-beautiful city. Around Seoul you will see some incredible fashionistas, so bust out in style.
Culture shock is inevitable when you are in an foreign city. Seoul, despite its comforts of heated subway seats, can take a bit of getting used to. It is a fast paced and sleepless city. Inspiration for stories will pop up in the process of exploring, learning and engaging with Korea's culture.
Your best assets will be your ability to adapt, be pragmatic and make the most of a range of situations. Be confident.
Business cards! Have yours ready, pass it with two hands and make sure the writing faces the receiver.
You will have the opportunity to meet interesting people, with their own stories and advice to offer about staying in Korea. Make sure that you hold onto people's business cards, especially those at the Australian Embassy in case of emergencies. Having people and their phone numbers to call if you get lost, is incredibly useful. Getting around Seoul can be quite a task, so try and make sure you know roughly where you are going and have directions for the taxi driver written in Korean.
At your paper, don't be shy to ask for guidance. It is tricky working in a country where most people don't speak english. The protocols for interviewing, and gathering stories can vary depending on what you are researching, so it is worth double checking with another reporter.
The bars, karaoke and dance clubs in Seoul are great! Hongdae is a great place to spend your evenings. You could spend a lifetime exploring the city, without getting bored. So make the most of the opportunity to get lost in tea houses, boutique stores and art shops. The ice skating rink in the middle of the city, is a lovely place to fall over and have fun.
Enjoy and learn as much as you can about Korea. It is a fascinating place and hopefully a country that you will remember fondly, and revisit.
Liz Moorhead & Caddie Brain in 2008
The Korea Herald provided a fairly mixed bag of experiences! We were the principle editors on a magazine - Korea Policy Review - and we've had a chance to work on some production and filming with PressTV - www.pressTV.com
Teresa Choi in 2007
Tips for Korea
* Definitely bring the Lonely Planet guide - it really helps with planning your sightseeing and finding good places to eat and interesting things to do.
* Australian mobile phones don't work in Korea, so you can either rent one here in Australia (from Korean-run mobile phone providers in Strathfield, Eastwood, Campsie, etc.) or at the airport.
* Time your week at the Australian embassy for Australia Day, as the Australia Day function is fantastic!
* Keep in touch with the Australian embassy as they may be useful for contacts during your internship placement.
* Keep up to date with the newspapers so you know what issues are topical and so you can start coming up with story ideas.
Working at the paper - The Korea Herald
* It may seem a bit intimidating at first, but you'll find it's a great place to work with lovely people. You can choose to structure your own experience as you like, as everybody in different sections are pretty much sitting next to each other.
* Definitely come prepared with ideas for articles, as you'll find the editors will have a hard time finding stories to assign you that don't require knowledge of Korean.
* Get to know the subeditors (all foreigners) as they can really help you out, plus they're very friendly!
* The hardest thing about being an intern in Korea is that your social network is drastically reduced so finding interview subjects may be difficult. Mine everybody you know the Embassy and the Korea Herald for
contacts. Your interview subjects themselves may be able to forward you onto others.
Joong Ang Daily
Nick Stone in 2008
JoongAng is a great place with so many nice people looking to help you out. The best advice is to just say yes to whatever opportunity is thrown your way and run with it. As you work primarily as a copy editor, you will spend most of your time editing for the next day's paper. What's more, a lack of Korean language skills also makes it hard to do any major works, particularly with the lack of time you have. So I find I could get a lot of stuff published through review writing and the like, as well as sometimes asking one of the nice staff writers to help me translate a press conference transcript or press release.
It was an amazing insight for me into a number of things. Actually being in a newsroom will teach you more than anything and seeing how people get articles together as well as how the paper functions and where articles come from is a real eye opener. I now know what I like to write about and how I like to write. I also feel confident in my ability to pursue more work overseas, as well as being happy to tackle the Australian media industry. The people you meet also all have an interesting story to tell and will be happy to talk to you about why they are where they are. So the chance to meet people in the industry, in another country was also invaluable.
Sonya Gee 2007
I hadn't considered travelling to South Korea before the Myer Fellowships and knew very little about it. I was amazed by what I found and experienced there, it is a city rich in historic (and sometimes strange) traditions, obsessed with shopping, new technology and with an energetic art-scene.
The newspaper Joong-Ang Daily
The Joong-Ang Daily is the South Korean partner of the International Herald Tribune, and is published as a national daily supplement. The internship was fairly flexible, I sub-edited every night between 6-10pm and as one of three English speaking sub-editors was in high demand, proofing everything from national, business and culture pages. During the day I negotiated work with the Lifestyle & Culture department and produced stories for the front-page Glimpse of Seoul column, the Foreign Perspective section and worked alongside the Fashion editor. The language barrier was a definite challenge, especially as I was often working in a freelance capacity but I found ways around it, often working with translators or interviewing expatriates.
History, art and fellow Australian interns
The South Korean fellowship is great because there are 3 places for Australian interns. It was comforting to travel and live with two other people and share the experience of living and working in a foreign country.
The subway system is incredibly efficient and although we lived halfway up a mountain, we spent our weekends exploring the art galleries and museums of Seoul (there are many), temples and gardens. We also travelled down to the Demilitarised Zone that separates North and South Korea and visited the war memorial. We were surprised to find a vibrant youth-art scene in the university area of Hongdae, where we found tiny cafes, experimental collaborative art spaces, markets and Korean indie-rock.
The fellowship was not just about working in a media environment but about being immersed in a different culture and lifestyle. I am grateful for the experience. Back at home, I have found that the fellowship has often been a decisive factor in getting work in the media industry, which is always a bonus.
The Nation - Karina May in 2006
Comments: The paper is located approx 20mins out of the main city
on a highway so accommodation was difficult. This place was extremely close to the offices (about 7mins in a taxi) and really nice. However, I would suggest staying somewhere on Sukhumvit Rd near a skytrain stop (like Phrom Phong) that way you are still in the center of the action and can go out at night, stay at a cheaper hotel/hostel and meet fellow travelers. You would get the skytrain a couple of stops to the end of the line (On Nut) and then it is about 20min taxi ride to the paper. A lot of the time I would attend a press conference etc and write and send my story from there so I would finish in the city and would then have to travel back to my hotel.
The key to this city is the skytrain (BTS) as long as you are near the skytrain you can get basically anywhere comfortably without having to deal with the traffic. However, taxis are extremely cheap and won't put too much of a dent in the finances. Make sure you get a metered taxi and you can travel somewhere up to 20mins away for only $2!
Newsroom/Getting articles published :
Chances are most people in the newsroom will not know who you are or why you are there so you have to make yourself known- even the person assigned to look after you may leave you to your own devices (as happened to me!). I would suggest befriending some of the western sub-editors (there are about 30) to help you identify the people to talk to about possible stories e.g. feature, travel, education. From my experience chances are (unless you speak Thai) you will not be on the news desk so you will probably spend time writing features. They are pretty open to suggestions or may have something in mind e.g. restaurant, theatre review etc. Basically if you offer your services they will most likely be happy for this new resource. I found writing more ground- breaking hardcore stories not as successful as more often than not you need an interpreter to translate for you. You will also probably be sent to English press conferences and events (as I did for the business section) which I found hard at first because I didn't have much knowledge/background information about the company etc and this made it difficult to identify the important people to speak to. However, the journos from the other papers are extremely friendly once you explain your situation they will undoubtedly help you along.
Places to visit :
As accommodation/food/transport is so cheap you will most definitely be left with some extra spending money for shopping and weekend trips. Aside from all the markets, temples and the Palace in Bangkok I strongly suggest visiting Kanchanaburi (River Kwai) and the island of Koh Samet (about 4hrs drive from Bangkok). The Embassy staff were extremely helpful with suggesting places to go and helping arrange accommodation.
To meet other journos/hear speakers visit the Foreign Correspondents Club (in the same building as the ABC Bureau-Phloen Chit skytrain stop)