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The truth about my job: Patrick Fok, TV presenter

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You’re probably used to him keeping you company every morning while you eat your breakfast.

But while Patrick Fok might be a familiar face on TV, we wanted to dive behind the cameras to find out what it’s really like to work in the land of business news.

In this new column, Human Resources aims to take you behind the scenes of some of the region’s most interesting jobs to find out how people in certain roles carved out their careers, what they like, what they hate, and what some of biggest misconceptions about their respective industries are.

To kick off the series, we had a chat with Patrick Fok, presenter and senior producer at Channel NewsAsia.

Can you briefly walk us through an average day at work?

My days always start with the alarm on my phone going off in the morning, but from then on it would be hard to call any day average. You have to get your head in gear to go on air and soak up a lot of information in a brief period of time before delivering it in the best possible way. Every story is different, and of course we have a lot of live interviews with headline newsmakers on First Look Asia and AM Live!, which means you always have to be on your toes. There’s no quiet corner to hide in the office when you’re having a bit of an off day.

I’m on air for three to four hours in the mornings and it can be quite tiring facing the cameras for a long stretch, but what many people don’t know is that when we get off air we are all journalists, first and foremost, and we’re all busy gathering news when we’re not presenting.

What was the path you took to land the job you have now with Channel NewsAsia?

I worked for TVB Pearl in Hong Kong for four years before joining Channel NewsAsia. I had a great time there working for a documentary show called The Pearl Report first and later the daily news bulletins. However, being  a predominantly Cantonese network, there were limited opportunities for me.

I’d visited Singapore on one occasion and loved the place, which prompted me to look into Channel NewsAsia. I wrote to the channel shortly after that and fortunately they were hiring so I managed to land a job. It was quite an adjustment for me coming here, and it took a long time for me to settle, but I was lucky enough to take over the business updates on what was then known as Primetime Morning.

Other opportunities include covering for Steven Chia on the morning show when he was away. When we relaunched our shows in January this year, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to front First Look Asia with Yvonne Yong. We have a hoot on air and we both really enjoy putting guests’ views under the spotlight on the segment, Views On The News.

What’s the one aspect of your job you look forward to the most every day?

I actually enjoy writing the most. Writing a news script can be a bit like putting a puzzle together. You have so many different elements to handle and it’s a real skill to be able to put a package together well. It feels great when you nail it.

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Of course, it’s great meeting all the great guests we have on our show. I really enjoyed meeting Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently. He was nothing short of a brilliant man. And, ok, it was pretty cool meeting Olivia Munn from The Newsroom as well. She is a bit of a head turner!

And is there anything you wished you didn’t have to do as often?

Transcribing. I hate transcribing! One might liken it to being sat in detention at school when you could be doing something a lot more fun.

What are some of the common misconceptions people might have about your job?

That we are merely readers. A lot of graduates looking to get into news casting write in listing all their presenting experience and reels and photos and what not.

News networks are looking for journalists first and foremost, because you have to be credible to front a news programme. Every one of us here at Channel NewsAsia is very much involved in the production and editorial process and it requires a wide range of skills.

What has been your most memorable experience in your current job?

I really enjoy the bond we have on the morning show with all the other presenters. They’re all great fun and I can tell you that they’re all pretty much the same off camera as they are on camera.

Steve is the same cheeky chappy you see every morning, Suzanne is kind and caring as you might imagine and one thing I can tell you about Yvonne is she suffers from fits of giggles from time to time which gets us all going in the morning. It can be quite tricky keeping a straight face when she cracks up!

Tell us about a time where something went awfully, horribly wrong on camera.

With “live” shows, anything can go horribly wrong at any one time, but that’s all part of the job.

What is critical is how the team recovers from tech glitches or other hiccups and to keep the show moving along smoothly without viewers knowing, and a lot of that comes with experience.

What skills or advice might you have for HR leaders in Singapore, based on what you have learned from your job?

Keep the job interesting. A lot of us who work in news do so because we love the variety on offer in our roles.

Another thing that’s great about working at Channel NewsAsia is that there are plenty of opportunities to move around from one team to another, so you get to work on different shows which require different skill sets.



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