Bertha Henson is still considering writing a book on her experiences as a journalist and editor with the Singapore press.
In her blog post review of The Reluctant Editor by veteran journalist PN Balji, Ms Henson highlighted several excerpt from the book about various tense and intriguing moments from behind the scenes Mr Balji’s 40 years experience as a journalist.
“The book itself is a racy read. It’s a collection of anecdotes grouped under various themes, with his run-ins with the G as well as with the corporate men being a dominant thread,” write Ms Henson.
Comparing it to Cheong Yip Seng’s OB Marker which was published in 2012, Ms Henson said “Where Cheong tries to explain, Balji merely reports. Where Cheong offers hypotheses, Balji just recounts.”
Describing Balji’s book as “straight-forward, no frills writing focused on controversies he had faced”, Ms Henson notes that Mr Balji even provides evidence of several incidents involving run ins between the press and the government where editors were “hemmed in when they evaluated stories, because they always had to bear in mind what had been discussed with the ministers.”
She also noted that Mr Balji had peppered in stories from his time with The New Paper (TNP) and TODAY, including the challenges in starting up those papers and competing with other well-established news outlets like Straits Times.
At the end of her lengthy review of Mr Balji’s book, Ms Henson suggested that he should write a full book about TNP’s “rise and hey days and how it had to conceptualise and re-conceptualise its editorial formula to gain more advertising and greater readership”.
She said documenting its rocky start would be useful to anyone who wants to create a startup. She also suggested that he could provide example of how TNP covered stories that the bigger ST also did. “This is important as people tend to forget that there are many ways to tell a story, and from different perspectives,” adds the ex-Associate Editor of ST.
She then suggested a follow up book with stories on when he went over to rival Mediacorp to start up TODAY. She recalled the ‘consternation’ among senior SPH editors when they found out that one of their own had gone to work for their rivals.
Ms Henson wrote, “It’s time to record this piece of media history for posterity. I only hope that if Balji does take this on, the two companies would co-operate with information and documents.”
At the end of her post, she says she is ‘still thinking’ about writing a book herself.