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Of a Paragraph in Digital Life (17th July 2007) July 17, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Today, the Digital Life ran some articles on the blogosphere which took up two pages; a rare achievement considering that the MSM has not been well disposed to the blogosphere in previous articles, preferring to echo the government line that we bloggers are dangerous insurgents who are mindless anti establishmentarians, a claim which shows a distinct lack of understanding of the dyanamics of the blogosphere. Thus the articles on Digital life do give Ned some hope that perhaps the tactic of  engaging the New Media with hatchets is history.

While the article was quite fairly written, the last line did give me some pause, it shall be reproduced below (since Ned does not subscribe to ST online and thus must rely on the primitive method of copying the entire passage:

Others, however, still rely mainly on newspapers for their information. Like 42 year old taxi driver Bala Jaganathan.

He said:” These sites are good, but they lack resources newspapers have, like access to information and full-time writers.

So, right now, I think they’re playing catch up with the mainstream media, although they might be better at exploring less well-known topics”

Granted, most of us have daily routines, be they jobs, studies, looking after the little kid or trying to earn money to beat the rising costs in Singapore. Granted we may not have an army of informants to do our work for us. However to conclude that the New Media is indeed playing catch up because of the above is to ignore certain points.

With regards to resources, they will be important insofar as reporting is concerned. However that is based on the premise that bloggers are akin to reporters. The truth is most bloggers, self included, are more of commentators, the ST equivalent would be those editors like Janadas and Andy Ho. Thus access to the MSM is more than sufficient for that purpose. Bloggers like Lucky TanDr Huang, Mr Wang, Aaron Ng and others are examples of those who comment on issues raised in the MSM. At times they  comment on issues not raised in MSM but based on anecdotal evidence or personal experiences. I hardly think that a bundle of authorities are needed if I am merely indulging in some rambling albeit online.

Of course there are also bloggers who do research. Granted they probably do not have the resources of the MSM, but that has not in anyway adversely affected the quality of their posts. (indeed I believe they deserve to be commended for delivering quality notwithstanding all that constraints they face:P) Some examples will be Bernard and his gang at Singapore Angle, the personal blogs of Bernard and gang again, and of course veteran blogger Mr Alex Au. Unlike the commentor kind of bloggers, these bloggers often do their own research before posting.

Then there are the aggregators: intelligent singaporean, theonline citizen, Singapore Surf and tomorrow.sg . Given their scope as aggregators I believe all that is required is the determination to trawl the internet for noteworthy articles and a computer with internet  connection to do the above. There is no need for an army of informants.

Thus in view of the above I would respectfully beg to differ on the point that the New Media has catching up to do. In fact given the constraints the Netizens have it is rather amazing that the blogosphere has come this far. (In fact people like Inspired, the folk of TOC, Tomorrow Sg and Mr Heng of Singapore surf should be commended for their work in the blogosphere.) The New Media, be it in the incident of the Ministerial Salary debates, the Wee Shu Min Incident and the Lee Hong Yi incident, has risen to the occasion and I daresay has surpassed the one sided reporting/commentary that is often found in the ST. Oh and not to forget the GE 2006 elections; while the ST was full of reports on how PAP rebutted its opponents and how the Gomez was a liar, the blogosphere provided the counter, including and not limited to the publishing of a picture showing an extremely high turn out during a Worker’s party rally, thus rebutting the veiled assertions that the opposition was a dying force in Singapore. And before Ned turns calls it a night, Ned would like to state that it is wrong to say that the New Media is better at exploring unknown topics. I hardly call Ministerial Salaries an unknown topic. One of the key advantages, at present, is that bloggers are not constrained by any loyalties to any party whatsoever. This in effect puts us one up over the MSM when coming to commentary, in so far as we stay clear of defamation or sedition. The ST fellas do not have the luxury of writing what they want by virtue of the fact that the ST’s purpose seems to be to propagate the government stand.

Anyway, to add some more stuff on the issue of homosexuality, i now present to you the comments of Sir Ian Mckellen, in view of the fact that his comments may not appear in the MSM.

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Comments»

1. Andrew - July 17, 2007

Hi Ned,

Thought I’d perhaps clarify some points in the Digital Life report.

The reporter, Feng Zeng Kun, had emailed me to ask some questions for his article. Below are a few points which I’d like to make known:

1. The report stated: “Mr Andrew Loh, editor of group blog The Online Citizen, also said that these more public sites provide an equally loud voice to all Singaporeans.”

The above are not my words. The reporter inferred that this was what I was saying. In fact, my main point I was making to him was that the presence of more group blogs perhaps is a sign that the mainstream media is not fulfilling a need among singaporeans – that of being more critical and incisive. I am not sure how this can be inferred as saying that such “public sites provide an equally loud voice to all singaporeans.” He has left out my main point entirely – that the MSM is not fulfilling a need.

2. The report said: “He pointed to the Derek Wee incident last year as one such instance.”

The “he” is suppose to be me. However, I did not at any point in my email exchange with him or in my phone conversation with him, mention anything about Derek Wee at all. The reporter has admitted this in a later email.

3. The reporter also specifically asked me about the blog statistics for theonlinecitizen. In fact, he called me up to specially ask about this. He also told me that he needed them to include in his article. I provided him with the stats. But as you can see in the report, none of the stats were mentioned at all.

He has clarified that when he submitted the article (presumably to his editors) the stats were included in his submission. I can only assume then that his editors had edited out the stats for theonlinecitizen, for whatever reasons.

4. I was also told that there would be a side bar in the report which would list down “a quick background on all the sites.” However, as it has turned out, there are only 3 blog sites mentioned in the article, under the section “Sites worth visiting”.

Again, the reporter has clarified that his submitted article had included TOC in this list on the sidebar. He has assured me that he will seek clarification this friday from his editors presumably and let me know why.

5. The reporter had also promised to go through the story with me “once it’s written, to make sure that I have not misrepresented you in any way.”

He did not do so and apologised for it. His reasons were that “it was friday and late”.

Having said all of the above, I do believe that it is probably because the reporter was an intern with the Straits Times. Thus, though I am dismayed at what has happened as mentioned above, my regret is more towards the editors of Digital Life.

Apparently, what the reporter had submitted for publication has been edited by the editors – and apparently also without the reporter’s knowledge.

In fact, when I emailed him about it this morning, Zeng Kun said he was “baffled” about certain things I had told him about the report and that “I really have no idea at this point what you are saying.”

In any case, he has said that he will get back to me this friday after he has the answers to the questions.

Regards,
Andrew
theonlinecitizen.com

2. theonlinecitizen - July 18, 2007

Hi,

Me again.

Thought you might like to read what NMP Siew Kum Hong has to say about the report as well.

Digital Life article on 17 July 2007

Regards,
Andrew

3. Ned Stark - July 18, 2007

Andrew,

Thanks for the report. Not to worry, your not the only one having problems with the ST editors. I think Gayle did talk about how one young journalist told her about the tightrope game they played.

4. reader - July 19, 2007

Why would we always have to feed information to ST and sometimes, get screwed by the editors. They are smart to use interns to collect information and mention that they have talked to the people involved in the articles but not used the information mentioned. This happened again and again.

It is time that we do not let this kind of misinformation happening all the time.

“Do not feed the animals”

5. The Void Deck - July 19, 2007

Hi Ned and Andrew

Yup that TOC was (deliberately) left out of the “Sites worth visiting” is a bummer. But flip side, it makes people only more curious about TOC as to why it is mentioned in the feature but not in the sidebar. Which is good. If Digi Life cite space constraints as an excuse, it is valid, but the good editor can always strike a reasonable balance anyway, even in a sidebar. Push ads from one page to another where possible, shift the layout around, change font size of headlines, voila.

6. Davidhuang - July 19, 2007

ST seem to make use of intern to collect information from sites that is critical of government, both positive and negative. And it is not surprise at all, since anything that may happen will just put the blame on the intern. The intern is just merely caught in between. It is smart of ST to do that because those editor staff at ST have to cover their backside and not risk their rice bowl and reputation !. To explore the world of blogosphere means to step into views that against ST’s interest of promoting PAP’s leadership ! By using intern and then let editors of anonymous identify to edit the content will just help the intern to answer “don’t know, or not sure”, and at same time, protect the editor too !

Shrewd. But Singaporean are not stupid not to know that.

7. Davidhuang - July 19, 2007

Indeed it is very strange that a reporter can misrepresent information and even add information on other people’s behalf. Is that the standard of ST’s reporter ? This incident is just one example of showing that mainstream reports aren’t credible at all. It is only as credible as its reporter.

So what is the truth and what is the untruth ?

8. theonlinecitizen - July 19, 2007

Hi Void Deck,

Well, we’ve seen a sharp rise in our numbers the last 4 or 5 days. But I am very sure that it is not because of the Digital Life report. It has more to do with the Li Hongyi saga.

Nonetheless, I am always supportive of bloggers being mentioned/interviewed in the MSM.

My only wish and hope is that the MSM would be more honest. Putting words into my mouth certainly is not.

Regards,
Andrew

9. Ned Stark - July 19, 2007

TVD,

Now that you mention it, i too did wonder why TOC was not put at the sidebar.

Andrew,
Yeah the Lee Hong Yi incident certainly caused a spike in hits.

10. reader - July 20, 2007

Another way to counter this ST tactic is to inform the reporters that the email / voice exchanges between reporters and interviewees will be logged and will/can be published in the public domain. Of course, the reporters may not want to interview you after knowing this…

11. A Positive Development « Winter Is Coming - July 25, 2007

[…] Media has often been derided and underrated in Singapore society; this is known as a fact as seen in many of my older articles. The MSM rarely seems to have any thing good to say about the New Media, until […]


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