Taylor's School of Media and Communication (SOMAC) took to the international content on 22 June 2022, by inviting the Malaysian Award-Winning Journalist, Syed Azwan Syed Ali to talk in a webinar with the theme 'Reporting from a Conflict Zone: A Malaysian Journalist’s Perspective'. Syed Azwan, who is an Independent Journalist was assigned to several conflict countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, The Philippines, Myanmar, just to name a few. It was during these journeys that he was inspired by the people he met into writing impactful articles for the local media. In Malaysia, media organizations have stopped sending a crew of reporters to conflict zones but instead just sending one reporter who would be taking the photos, doing the filming and reporting. This is due to the changing of media landscape from the traditional media to digitalized online media.
According to him, the Malaysian media agencies do not send any reporters to war or conflict zones unless there are Malaysian values in stories written about these places. For example, no Malaysian reporter was sent to Ukraine to cover the Ukraine - Russia war which is going on now. News from the Ukraine - Russia war that we see reported in the local media was obtained from media resources such as AFP, CNN and other international media agencies. This is one example of how stories are obtained without sending a Malaysian reporter to the actual scene. He stressed on working to change lives and getting satisfaction from his work. This was evident when he became a media volunteer for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) who were involved in delivering humanitarian aids in conflict zones. Syed Azwan also shared several videos during his trips with the NGOs, to refugee camps and conflict zones.
Syed Azwan was award recipient for several journalism awards such as:-
2017, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award, Top three for International Journalism Category – Rohingya;
2016, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award, Consolation Prize for International Journalism Category;
2015, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award, Best International Journalism Award - Syrian Conflict;
2015, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award, Consolation Prize for Best Investigative Reporting;
2015, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award, Consolation Prize for Best News Reporting;
2014, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Appreciation Award;
2013, MPI-PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award (Best International Journalism Award) (Rohingya Crisis);
2008, Japan Foreign Press Centre Fellowship;
2006, Best Special Report Writer for Ministry of Information’s Angkasapuri Award and many more.
MPI – PETRONAS Malaysian Journalism Award is organized annually by the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) in collaboration with PETRONAS Berhad and he was offered the Wolfson Press Fellowship Cambridge University for research on migrants and refugees in April-June 2016. He has recently written a book about his experience in Kabul, Afghanistan in Nota Dari Kabul (Notes from Kabul).
The webinar was attended by lecturers and students from several private and public universities with students from both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The webinar was organized in the memory of the death of the American - Palestinian Journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh (1971 – 2022) who was shot during her assignment in the Gaza.