Telum Talks To… Eleanor Yap, Editor / Founder of Ageless Online and Editor of ProjectCare

Telum Talks To… Eleanor Yap, Editor / Founder of Ageless Online and Editor of ProjectCare

1. What inspired you to cover stories on ageing and seniors?
I was initially asked to be the Editor of a seniors’ publication back in 2000 and later, started my own seniors’ publications (one in English and the other in Chinese) with a business partner in 2006. Initially, I faced a lot of challenges and doubts from people as it is a niche sector and at the time, there is still a strong focus on youths - I was asked if there are really stories catered to seniors and are there really seniors in Singapore? In 2009, I started my own free e-magazine called Ageless Online to celebrate seniors.

I also pivoted to other community initiatives, including Makan with Seniors, a community event that brings youths and seniors to bond over food; Time Traveller, showcasing old things from the past; FACEUP where youths write about seniors, and finally, Project BUDDY, which I launched during the earlier part of COVID-19 to get volunteers to call isolated or single seniors to make sure they are okay. I also have a caregivers’ website called ProjectCare, which celebrates caregivers and highlights the challenges they go through, as well as a WhatsApp chat group supporting caregivers looking after those with dementia.
2. With loneliness being reported as an overlooked public health issue, what do you think we should speak more of?
We talk about the “kampung spirit” but keep in mind, we don’t live in kampungs any longer, so it may be more challenging. However, there are ways we can be more community-oriented by checking in on our neighbours who are seniors, greeting and being aware of those in our community. Seniors are often an invisible population, and they shouldn’t be. They have done a lot for Singapore and they deserve our respect. Being on the phone only brings a huge disconnect to your community, and you can’t help someone in need if you don’t see them.

I also think we should use more positive terms when talking about seniors and refrain from those that are negative and imply they are frail. I don’t like terms such as aged, old, demented and silver tsunami. I think we should be mindful that if we don’t like those terms as they will be referred to us as we age, we should be the change. When we talk to those who are younger, be mindful as it creates mindsets and stereotypes. This also includes when we write press releases. Please refrain from adding your own stereotypes, and be mindful and empathetic that we are in an inclusive society and should be respectful of people of all ages, etc. We should use more empowering and positive terms as well.
3. You've covered trade and consumer publications before. What would be your tips to PRs who want to put forth a pitch?
Besides being mindful of terms used for seniors, please do your research before pitching to me. It takes a few minutes, and you also show respect for the work that I am doing. For example, don’t pitch to me something related to youths when I certainly don’t cover youths, unless the youth has done something for a senior. I would appreciate it if you don’t waste my time as I already get a lot of e-mails. Also, if you want to pitch something, kindly check my site to see whether it has been covered already. Because Ageless Online was started back in 2009, there are a lot of topics that I see each year that have been covered time and time again. It has to be something new, not the same thing that is already done.
4. How has your experience been in the journalism field? Any key learning points, having worked in the industry for more than 30 years?
The way people consume information is vastly different from when I studied journalism in the United States. Consumers don’t want to read a lot of copy nowadays, and they tend to read the first few lines on the top and move on as they are busy and bombarded with other commitments. Articles need to be short. For those who are newbies to writing, write what you are passionate about as that makes it so much easier to continue writing year after year.
5. What pitches would you like to receive more of from PRs?
I love pitches of people stories, such as a senior going back to school, pursuing his or her dream like this story, going through or recovering from an illness, etc. These stories give hope to my readers and inspire them.
I also welcome pitches that touch on things that improve the lives of seniors. This includes product innovations like this story on smart walking sticks. Today, more so than before, people can continue living independent lives as long as possible and that in itself is remarkable. Everyone wants to be less of a “burden” to their loved ones, so these are fabulous stories for my website.

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Eleanor Yap

Editor / Founder

Ageless Online

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