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Letter from the Editor: With youth showing the way, let their voices be heard

As the Covid-19 crisis raged on over the past two years or so, millennials around the world have risen above bread-and-butter concerns by being at the forefront of many important conversations on topics ranging from climate change and environmental sustainability, social justice and racism, to gender identity and equality, and sexual harassment — to name a few.

As the Covid-19 crisis raged on over the past two years or so, millennials around the world have risen above bread-and-butter concerns by being at the forefront of many important conversations on topics ranging from climate change and environmental sustainability, social justice and racism, to gender identity and equality, and sexual harassment — to name a few.

Several among these are longstanding issues brought to the fore amid a pandemic that has made a profound impact on societies.

This is happening right here in Singapore, too. At TODAY, we recognise this and have made it our mission, as a millennial newsroom for the millennial audience, to give voice to youth and encourage public discourse.

Why are we doing this, you may ask? After all, one can easily take to social media to air one’s views on any issue and engage in discussions with others.

Be that as it may, we believe there is a need to provide a trusted and safe environment where serious-minded youths can learn and appreciate different perspectives, engage with one another, and make their collective voices heard.

WHAT WE HAVE PLANNED

As part of our millennial pivot last year to mark our 20th anniversary, we have been serving millennials looking for intelligent, insightful and incisive news as well as useful information to help them join the dots and make sense of the world.

Among other things, we had reshaped our news coverage and treatment via exclusives and ground-up reports on issues that resonate with millennials, “explainers” to break down complex and seemingly distant topics to help them see the links and understand the happenings around them, as well as cause-driven reports aligned to their passions and interests.

By doing this, we hope to provide millennials with the knowledge and different perspectives to make everyday decisions and form their views on national issues, as well as to give them the tools that they need to effectively take part in public discourse.

This strategy has paid off, as TODAY’s digital reach doubled, hitting an average of more than five million unique visitors each month.

But we are certainly not resting on our laurels.  

Website and mobile app revamp

Fresh from unveiling a new logo and a refreshed website last year, TODAY’s website and mobile application will be fully revamped in the coming weeks. 

Our audience can look forward to an even better design and user experience on both the website and the app. Among other things, news articles will be featured more prominently with larger visuals and headlines while a new Minute section will employ different story-telling techniques to cater to a time-starved audience looking to stay on top of the news.

Stay tuned and watch this space.

Annual TODAY Youth Survey

As we mark our 21st anniversary in the coming week (on Nov 10), we are taking the next step in our mission to give voice to youth — by launching the inaugural edition of the annual TODAY Youth Survey to allow millennials and Gen Zers to be heard on societal issues and everyday topics close to their hearts.

The TODAY Youth Survey 2021 sought the views of over 1,000 Singapore youths aged between 18 and 35 on six topics: Racism, religion, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) attitudes, gender dynamics, the impact of Covid-19 on mental well-being and social ties, and career and material success.

The demographically representative survey, which was conducted online, threw up interesting findings across the various topics: 

  • On the topic of racism, over 60 per cent of Malay and Indian youths have personally experienced racism.
  • When it comes to religion, about half of the respondents with a religion say their identity is closely tied to their religious community while some 40 per cent say their closest friends practise the same religion.
  • The survey also found broad acceptance of LGBTQ persons among the youths, with a large majority of them having no issues working with LGBTQ colleagues or having close friends from the community. However, the acceptance level dips – albeit still the majority – when it comes to family members having same-sex relationships. 
  • In terms of gender dynamics, more youths felt that gender equality can be achieved in the household than at the workplace within their lifetime. On attitudes towards having children, almost 70 per cent of youths cited cost of living as a concern. For female respondents, health issues related to pregnancy and childbirth were another major concern, above others such as impact on career progression and loss of individual identity.
  • On how the pandemic has affected their mental well-being and outlook, almost 60 per cent of the youths are optimistic that life will be better a year from now. However, a similar proportion say they have become more cautious and fearful because of the Covid-19 crisis. Meanwhile, about half of the youths say they have become less sociable compared with before the pandemic, while over 40 per cent have picked up negative habits of mindless social media scrolling and binge-watching television.
  • On what matters to them at work, the youths ranked having good bosses or colleagues, work-life balance and financial rewards as the top three factors, above advancement prospects and a sense of purpose. As for what material success means to them, the No 1 aspiration among the youths is to have enough funds to retire early.  

Over the next five days, look out for our daily reports on the findings, culminating in a Big Read feature on how the Covid-19 pandemic, like all major protracted crises throughout history, has left an indelible mark on the psyche of the younger generation. Other Big Read features providing a deep dive into some of the survey topics are also on the cards in the coming weeks.

Live webinar series on Instagram and TikTok

On top of all these, TODAY’s webinar series will be back for the second year running and this time, we will be streaming live not only on Instagram but TikTok as well.

The four-part weekly webinar series will be held on Friday evenings, at 8pm on Nov 12, 19 and 26 and Dec 3. Panellists will discuss the findings of the TODAY Youth Survey 2021 with the audience, who can also take part in quizzes and win prizes. 

These are the topics: 

  • (Nov 12) Racism: How can Singapore move beyond tolerance to being a society that doesn’t judge people by their race or ethnicity?
  • (Nov 19) Attitudes on LGBTQ issues: Is there a new normal among Singapore youth?
  • (Nov 26) Covid-19 and mental health: How do we repair the damage inflicted on mental well-being and social relationships?
  • (Dec 3) Measuring success: Whither the 5Cs, how are youths redefining success and priorities in life?

Over time, we hope to grow the annual TODAY Youth Survey and webinar series into a safe but thought-provoking space for constructive public discourse on issues that matter.

After all, this is what journalism, at its heart, is all about. Come join us and let your voices be heard. 

Loh Chee Kong is the deputy chief editor of TODAY.

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