Fourth Academy > Blog > Alumni Feature June 2024: Bryan Yong

Fourth creators alumni feature:
Bryan Yong

Every month, we feature a Fourth Creators alumni to share their journey into content creation, journalism – or even just an interesting story that they have. 

This month, let’s hear from environmental journalist and researcher Bryan Yong, 25. Bryan believes it is important to bridge the gap between researchers and the general public through good and informative storytelling.

Hi Bryan! Tell us about yourself and your passions?

B: Hi! My name is Bryan Yong from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My background is in environmental science. I am currently a Master’s student in Oceanography.

I got into media-related work because I love telling stories. Initially, I focused on research papers and academia, but I realised many people do not understand or engage with scientific content. 

This led me to environmental journalism, which is quite rare in Malaysia. 

I then started writing environmental reports and articles, improving my skills with help from During my time as an Academic Fellow in the USA, I focused on environmental journalism as well. 

I noticed a significant gap in environmental content in Southeast Asia and, with friends, founded EcoCupid, which is one of the first environmental media communities in the region.

Later, I transitioned from photography to videography, and I travelled across Southeast Asia to create documentaries about underreported environmental projects. 

My work has gained recognition, leading to collaborations on climate documentary projects.

Bryan is a keen photographer who recently ventured into videography.

Could you share examples of content you’ve created that you’re really proud of?

B: One of my proudest moments as a first-time documentary filmmaker was producing a short documentary from scratch. 

The story (watch below) focused on reforestation efforts in Malaysia, highlighting how a conservation NGO collaborates with the indigenous Jahai communities in the Royal Belum State Park to promote their livelihood and restore forest areas.

This project, which is featured on EcoCupid’s website, YouTube, and social media, involved a lot of hard work from pre-production to editing. 

Coordinating with the indigenous communities, dealing with the logistics of filming in remote areas, and managing the intense production schedule were all challenging but incredibly fulfilling. 

The documentary was eventually submitted to a Thai film festival about climate change, where it received a grant and is now being screened across the country. This was a significant achievement for me, and I hope to share the story more widely in Malaysia, where it matters most.

Play Video

Bryan’s first short documentary earned him a grant at a film festival, and is now being screened across the country.

Can you tell me more about EcoCupid?

B: EcoCupid is an environmental media project and social platform that connects environmentalists and showcases their projects. 

We focus on highlighting engaging stories that feature people’s successes, conflicts, and challenges, which resonate with audiences across Southeast Asia. Our content, including a video on the Mechai Bamboo School and on Environmental Leaders such as Thanwarat Khonphian have been effective in reaching more than 200,000 people across all social media platforms and have received sufficient grants.

Currently, we are working with clients to feature entire cities and their eco-projects through engaging videos. We have collaborated with the Malaysian government and local communities to highlight these initiatives. 

Additionally, we are running a Southeast Asian content creator campaign called Local Eco Explainers. We pair short video creators from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines with local eco-projects, providing grants for their work. 

This campaign is ongoing, and we are excited about its potential impact.

Bryan on his reasons being involved in EcoCupid.

How was your experience participating in a Fourth Academy programme for the first time?

B: When I joined the Fourth Academy’s Video Production and Journalism Skills Workshop back in August 2023, it was an intense three-day experience. 

We were tasked with creating a short documentary from scratch within that time frame, starting with an empty script and just the contact number of our interviewee. It was a tight production schedule, even by professional standards.

Bryan (standing second from left) at the Video Production and Journalism Skills Workshop.

The topic we covered was about children’s rights, focusing on the challenges faced by stateless and vulnerable children in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. 

Despite the tight deadlines, I had a lot of fun working with my teammates. By the end of the workshop, we managed to produce a full documentary.

Play Video

Bryan’s team work during Video Production and Journalism Skills Workshop.

As a young journalist, how do you stay connected with the Fourth Academy’s community after your time as an alumnus?

B: Since graduating from the workshop, I’ve joined various volunteering opportunities, small gigs, workshops, and screenings by The Fourth. 

They also have an e-newsletter that helps me stay updated. The team also often reaches out to me for collaboration opportunities, such as participating at events such as the Fourth Alliance Summit.

I feel very grateful because much of my experience in journalism and filmmaking, especially in broadcast, has come from The Fourth. 

The support and benefits extend far beyond the workshop itself. They also allow alumni to use their equipment and studio space at the Fourth Creators Studio for free, which has been incredibly helpful for my documentary work. This sharing mindset helps the entire media community grow and thrive.

What are your hopes for the future of environmental journalism in Malaysia?

B: Currently my interest lies in environmental stories within the Malaysian community. As an environmental journalist, I hope to see the field grow significantly.

I want to see environmental journalism become more relevant across various platforms, including broadcast media and radio, and in multiple languages. 

It is crucial to reach audiences outside urban areas where environmental issues are most pressing. 

We need to communicate in local languages like Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and indigenous languages to effectively address these issues.

What advice would you offer to young individuals passionate about effecting change through journalism, content creation, and advocacy?

B: Based on my journey, my advice is not to worry about having a traditional career. Pursuing your passion for journalism, whether it is about the environment, human rights, or health, sets you apart. 

You do not need a professional background to tell compelling stories. Focus on what your audience wants to hear and how they might react to your stories. 

Think from their perspective to make your stories interesting and impactful. It is more important that your audience likes your story than how technically perfect it is.

If you want to know more about Bryan’s work, head on to his portfolio here.

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