Traditional Media in SG


It’s an open secret to most (at least, most of the cynical and critical online crowd) that the news in The Straits Times, the main English-language newspaper in Singapore, can’t really be trusted 100%.  Over the years you hear stories here and there from others as well as  your own experiences and these little (and not so little) anecdotes add up to an overall impression which is hard to shake, even if I couldn’t list and detail all my reasons for you as evidence.

However, here’s a recent piece of evidence that seems really, really low to me: ST misrepresenting part-time models.

The Straits Times article paints the girls in a terribly trashy light, like slutty attention whores. That’s completely different from what the girls were expecting– they were explicitly told the article would be about “the dangers of doing free-lance shoots and tips on how to protect yourself” and definitely not about how they like to “show off their sexy side”, which was the title of the article. How ironic, then, as the article has brought them loads of negative attention and online flak. So much for protection. (Screencaps of the conversation between the reporter and the girls and their photographer in the article linked above.)

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Recently, there’s been a petition to shut down STOMP, a branch of The Straits Times which features ‘citizen journalism’. More accurately, it’s usually used as a platform where people post videos and pictures of others doing what they deem to be bad behaviour, kind of like a public shaming platform. “Eh better don’t lah, later kenna STOMP” (Better not do it, in case you get posted on STOMP) is a common, half-joking refrain.

There are many things that could potentially bug you about STOMP; the voyeuristic quality of filming others and watching such videos; the petty complaints that get posted as ‘news’ just because this is ‘citizen journalism’; the infringement of privacy with the sometimes secret act of filming or snapping a shot and posting it online; the judging from the sidelines mentality it encourages, where you publicly shame others while remaining anonymous yourself; the mentality of whipping out your camera instead of confronting the individual directly or stepping forward to help.

If all that is not enough to phase you, there’s still the occasional fabricated story and the xenophobia, negativity and cyber bullying it encourages, reasons mentioned by the petition starter. Although the petition has garnered almost 23, 000 signatures to date, MDA (Media Development Authority) gave only a dismissive reply:

“Should you believe that Stomp, together with other class-licensed and individually licensed sites merit stronger regulation, we invite you to propose how the standards should be tightened. Let’s build a healthy online environment together.” 

We should propose how the standards should be tightened? You mean, do your job for you? Funny how this is in sharp contrast to how quickly alternative online news sources or political blogs or other independent individuals are taken to task. We certainly weren’t asked for our opinion on how strict the monitoring should be then.

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In 2013, Singapore fell 14 places to a record 149th position in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report by non-governmental, international organisation Reporters Without Borders (RWB), placing us between Russia and Iraq. In the Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House, Singapore’s press was rated as ‘Not Free’, tied at the 153rd place with Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar. This is what our Prime Minister has to say:

 “I have given up that (Reporters Without Borders’ ranking)… I do not take them seriously.”

He pointed out that information flows freely on the Internet and newspapers report the news freely, but also responsibly.

Well done, great example set; when someone gives you feedback you don’t like, simply dismiss and ignore it (that is, if it’s beyond your power to shut it down). Sticking your head in the sand is something certain people seem to be very good at.

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Tolerance vs Harmony; Campus Crusade


A while ago there was a bit of a religion-related up-roar regarding some comments the Campus Crusade for Christ group in NUS made on their posters and websites.

Specifically, it had 2 posters promoting missions trips to Thailand and Turkey which read, “Thailand is a place of little true joy. Buddhism is so much of the Thai national identity and permeates into every level of society and culture that only one hundred Thais accept Christ each year” and “much of the population (in Turkey) is M, much prayer and work is needed in this place.”

When I saw the angry comments fly online, I felt slightly puzzled. Why were people so enraged? It’s not like you didn’t know that Christians think their religion is the only true one. It’s not like you didn’t know Christians think that knowing Christ is the best thing that can happen to you, the thing that will bring you ‘true joy’. It’s not like you didn’t know what the objective of mission trips are.

So as long as people keep quiet about their true intentions, you’ll close one (or two) eye(s), but once they dare proclaim it, you’ll call them out on it??

I had a thought: is this an example of how the racial and religious harmony we claim to have in Singapore is not true harmony or acceptance? But rather a superficial veil hiding mere tolerance or apathy? A bit like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ huh: as long as you don’t get in my face, as long as you PRETEND you’re not doing anything, I’ll pretend along with you.

And if so… is this situation a necessary compromise for living in a society with too many differing view points (especially religious)? or is it hypocrisy, plain and simple?

Related articles:
The Online Citizen
The Straits Times
Edvantage 
Related blog entires:

Alvinology

Remy Ong and Social Media


If you’re Singaporean, you’ve probably come across this post on facebook (or online forums), or else read about it in the news.

Personally, I came across the facebook post first before reading about it in the news, and I couldn’t help musing about how much the way information (especially more sensational information) is disseminated has changed.

You could use this to champion citizen journalism, an example of how the internet can get information out faster, and without the white washing or censorship of traditional media. The truth gets out before the lies have time to form a coherent official statement.

Maybe, maybe not.

Social media can be a double-edged sword. What IF the person had a vendetta against Remy Ong (or whatever person involved in whatever incident) or simply didn’t like him very much? He puts his post, his false version of the story, out into the internet, and it spreads like wildfire. Regardless of what the official outcome turns out to be, the person’s reputation has taken a hit. Fans have lost their respect for him. At the end of the day, it’s still one person’s word against another, isn’t it? How do you know what you’re reading is the true account?

Ps. In this case though, the internet-first-hand-account version sounds more credible to me; I’m sure the sound of your car hitting a dog and the sound of it brushing the dog (if there’s even a sound?!) is quite different!