08 July 2006

Much ado about citizen journalism

The Straits Times ran a feature story on citizen journalism on 8 July 2006. It seemed oddly out of focus, but perhaps it was because, based on the questions they had emailed me, I expected it to go deep into issues of contestation and boundaries. Full essay.


Sinsling said...

Very insightful analysis by you. I ahve recently stated following your articles and you have struck me as one of the most lucid and deliberate commentators on Spore I have had the pleasure to read. A lot more responsible that the editors of ST you can not bring themselves to print your description of yourself..lol.

Good point on giving significance to the insignificant. But I will argue that in the Spore context it is a significant point only because "citizen journalism" is being portrayed as potentially insidious, dangerous, irresponsible and therefore needs to be controlled.

I think it would be interesting if we could turn the tables here for once and have YOU interview Ms Ong, or any any other "legitimate" local journalist and write an article on what shapes their journalism. How much of their reporting is controlled by their editors. Who dictates to the editors their boundries...etc. Just how responsible is their journalism. And who is it being responsible to - its readers or the authorities.

Anonymous said...

Yours is a fantastic blog.

I just want to add that aren't we in some way responsible for what is happening. After all, more than 50% voted for the PAP and knew what happens after every election. Fare and Utility increases are expected. If we voted for selfish reasons such as estate upgrading over bigger national issues, then we deserve what we get.
We must seriously look at ourselves and our own conscience. Minsiter Lee Boon Yang of MICA did warn about some more controls required for the Internet. The Press did not give a fair view of the election and the hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans knew it, esp those who attended the rallies or heard about them from their friends, taxidrivers, etc...BUT, they voted NOT with their own conscience but selfish and reasons. Now why do these people complain about? Aren't they responsible in some way what is happening here. The govt knew our votes count, and not the Internet (though it is getting popular it has not reached the masses yet). It is hope that the Internet will be the alternative medium for the masses for truths and alternative news.

Anonymous said...

>expected it to go deep into issues of contestation and boundaries

another optimist..of course they would not; the PR dept for Singapore Inc does not have the mission to clarify such issues and facilitate critics

it has been in the interest of both bloggers and SPH to exaggerate the impact of blogs; the former get puffed up, and the latter has excuse to focus itself on the corporate PR mission (like LKY said: if you dont like what you read ST, go and start your own blog)

established press uses its advertising income to support well organized groups of journalists and commentators to collect, analyse and widely circulate information; blogs offer personal opinions, recollections and heasays to a personal following; the two cannot replace each other

otherlor said...

I agree with sinsling. and I'm making you my homepage, replacing asiaone. if you continue to write like this i will never get the chance to get off my knees. but, havent you been here long enough to know that the longer the article, the more about nothing it usually is? its the new journalism -New Strait Consumer Times. hahaha. yes, i know. some parts of me still think they may live up to their own advertisements some time. smiles.

ice331 said...

as you have stated, malaysia has a successful online news reporting. when will singapore have our own ... please not that stomp, that is not online reporting, that s just a show

Anonymous said...

I salute and admire your spirit and your perseverance in your gay activist. Even though you wanted to be known as a gay activist but those unholy cow think otherwise.

It's outright absurb and downright immature on their part. This is already the 20th century and such fogey still exist :(

Sadly a large part of our society will not accept people like you but all is not lost.

Honestly I don't find gay or lesbian or transexual .. something wrong?? You've proven yourself to be a very upfront talented learned man and certainly not of hideous character. Much much better than those holy skunk.

In fact I was talking to my friends and my sibling and asked them what they think of gay, referring to "Yawning Bread" and everyone said: ".. he's normal human being ... it's his choice ... maybe he is destined to be a gay .. that's his choice and how he wants to be.." I further asked "Can you accept him as a gay" and instanteously they replied: "Of Course :)"

I'm sure you are aware you're very much respected and love by people like us and your articles are insightful contributions certainly prized reading materials!

recruit ong said...

There is an opinion making the rounds, that S'poreans deserve the government they voted for. This is similar to the sentiment expressed by the 2nd anon, that (i quote) - aren't we in some way responsible for what is happening? After all, more than 50% voted for the PAP and knew what happens after every election. This is not very different from saying that the PAP govt is not to be blamed. After all, it is us s'poreans that voted them in.

I just want to say this.. how can s'poreans be held responsible when the PAP controls the media, restricts the dissemination of information to its own benefits, enacts laws and barriers and basically do all it could to ensure a lopsided playing field in PAP's favour? The electorate cannot be said to be informed adequately to make their choice. Some more they are also not free from the many implicit threats and scare tactics that is plain for all to see.

Results from this kind of election has to be qualified. It is no different from the elections of Saddam hussein's Iraq. It is a sham election, and until the day arrives where the playing field is fair and level S'poreans taking part in this kind of "rigged" election ARE NOT responsible for the govt they "voted" in.

teck soon said...

Recruit Ong compared Singapore's elections to Saddam Hussein's sham elections in Iraq. This is interesting. Perhaps the US military will send in its big guns and "spread freedom" to Singapore too.

PAP ministers have said repeatedly that they could care less about what the foreign media say. While today Singapore is merely mocked abroad, continuing on its present path could lead to very real consequences if the ministers continue to not care. A single company board member abroad who sees Singapore as a totalitarian dictatorship can derail an major investment in Singapore. A single case like EnerNorth's in Canada could ruin an industry here. The caning of a single American boy ten years ago has already had a significant impact on US investment in Singapore (though many Singaporeans may not realise this). Singapore is but a step away from deteriorating into an Iraq-style single-party dynasty. Are economic sanctions and American missiles in Singapore's future as well?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all
I do not agree with recruit ong that Singapore voters should be absolved from blame. Of course they are not given the full picture but do we expect to be spoon fed with so-called objective news by the powers that be? Are we prevented from getting alternative sources of news? You mean we are really like N.Korea and no access to the rest of the world? Internet access is near-universal in S'pore ( ok one has to make a little effort to get it)
but the large majority have chosen the easy (lazy) way out and used all sorts of excuse not to vote according to their conscience. Fear of this and that/ ballot paper serial nos etc. etc The suicide squad of AMK have put their lives and futures on the line, yet voters changed their minds when they suddenly got cold feet when they saw a "mata-mata" at the polling station.
People all over the world have stood up to be counted, often to their own detriment, yet we have chosen to gag our own mouths and chosen to bury our proverbial heads in the sand.
The govt knows what a spineless lot we are and that we can only talk and talk ( mostly as anonymous people like in a coffee shop) but not lift a finger to do anything.
Do I blame Steve Chia or Goh Meng Seng if they get despondent and quit? No. Even Glenda Han has more balls than all of us. ( sorry for my unparliamentary language).
Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

recruit ong said...

Dr. Huang, surely u are aware how many s'poreans actually get to vote in the GE. I didn't get to vote, i'm not sure if u did. I know what the next reposte may be - that oh, dun blame the PAP if no opposition dare to stand for election. This of cos comes back to the point about level playing field and fairness. Participation is a key element to the legitimacy of a democratic election. PAP being the party in govt, has through the years employed various questionable means and unethical machinations to decimate political competition and discourage citizens from participation. You may disagree with me but i find such methods clearly objectionable and unacceptable. And those who employ such methods cannot be said to have a mandate to rule.

A customer cannot be said to have made an informed purchasing decision if he was misrepresented, arm-twisted and hoodwinked into making that decision. Do we blame the customer for his stupidity and failure to see thru a scam, do we blame him for having good faith, or should we be really looking at those who set out to mislead and deceive him? Many sporeans out there grew up on a steady diet of PAP propaganda and misinformation. Not many possess a healthy dose of scepticism to question things or look beyond the facade. It is simply not realistic to expect people to just 'wake up' and suddenly sees the matrix for what it is. And blaming these s'poreans is really just shifting the blame that has to be borne by those who constructed the matrix to hoodwink them.

I put the responsibility and blame squarely on the PAP. It is not about S'poreans needing to be spoon fed or not, it is pinpointing the crux of the problem and refusing to be confused by those who seek to blur and sidetrack the issue.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Recruit Ong,
I do not disagree with you at all that the PAP's method is on the whole despicable and shameful. And yes if measured by any reasonable yardstick they would surely not qualify as a bona-fide democracy.

The Question is so how now? Despite this unfairness and inequality, folks like you and I should still stand up to be counted. If we stay despondent, rant in our little coffee-shop comfort zone, it will only serve the PAP's purpose.

We need more spine than that. We should still exercise our constitutional right to vote according to free choice, to stand bravely and publicly to offer constructive alternatives and to show defiance by just saying that, "No, I don't think I believe all the crap that is being propagated by your media organs."

If we and our people wait till the PAP has become fairer in their tactics, that day will never come. Anyway, if the PAP change their ways (ie reform), there is no need to stand up to them already right?

At this point, despite the odds, we must put spine into our people and just do what we have to do! Be a David to this Goliath!What can they do to us? Jail us? Bankrupt all of us?
Dr. Huang ( always good at speaking brave and pompous words)

sinsling said...

Recruit Ong, the following are based solely on my experiences and no great scholarly learning......

The no. 1 purpose of a political party is to win elections.

No. 2 is to stay entrenched in power, using any and all means possible.

No.3 see nos. 1 & 2.

Based on the above, I cannot blame the PAP. At some point in our history we made a pact with the PAP, we value economic freedom above all else. The majority gave them the mandate to do it, and continued to do so for the next 2.5 decades.

PAP's highhanded tactics are nothing new. We let them continue on (NSA etc..) using those tactics. We prioritised the rice bowl above fair play and other freedom of expression.

Whatever else, they have so far allowed pretty much fair elections (no vote rigging, physically impeding people from voting, etc.) and so the electorate has always been given the opportunity to voice their opinion of the PAP's policy with their vote. Hell I'd have voted a monkey into parliament just to send my message.

So if people (I should say the majority) were truly dissattisfied with the PAP, I am sure they would have voted accordingly.

Anonymous said...

PAP is trying discredit blogs and forums and wants to brainwash Singaporeans into believing so.

PAP is testing the OB markers of Singaporeans as well

kentangs said...

Hmm. speaking of satire and journalism. i remembered a funny incident involving one of my blogs where i write silly articles in a vaguely newspaperish style.

one of our politicallish blogs picked it up, thought it was real, and actually devoted a post to it. highly amusing.

either local news is ludricous or we need to get used to reading other things in newspapers i guess.

Randy said...

You mentioned Stomp many times (so did ST as you can see from all those splashes of Stomp logo).

I was about to upload some pictures to Stomp when I saw this paragraph under Terms & Conditions (I read terms & conditions fervently nowadays. You won't know what can be taken against you so you better try to find out).

"The materials you post in STOMP must be owned by you. This means you must be the intellectual property rights (IPR) owner of the materials. By placing them in STOMP or submitting them to us, you irrevocably grant us permission to reproduce them in any medium belonging to us. We may deal with the materials you post in STOMP in whatever ways."

SPH basically mentioned that you must own the rights to whatever you want submit to Stomp. But it doesn't mention if the rights will be transferred to them. Somewhere deeper in the site, this appeared.

"For SMS and MMS submissions and online postings, senders agree that SPH owns the right to all photographs, video clips, audio clips and written content as the case may be, and that you shall not be entitled to make any claims whatsoever or assert any of your moral rights generally in respect of such photographs, video clips, audio clips and written content including any use of these materials or any reproduction or adaptation thereof for any purpose in any of its publications and to use, licence, assign, sell, publish, syndicate or otherwise deal with the photographs, transparencies, video, audio clips and written content as SPH, its subsidiaries and associate companies may wish."

I'm not a lawyer but my guess is that my rights over any content created by me is transferred to them. And if I were to use those materials in any other means/ways, they can take legal actions against me (if they want).

Be careful with terms & conditions. You never know what can cause you problems.

recruit ong said...

sinsling wrote: The no. 1 purpose of a political party is to win elections.
No. 2 is to stay entrenched in power, using any and all means possible.

Any and all means possible?? This logic is untenable and ridiculous. Take humans for example, all men (except gays hehehe) are programed naturally to sow their seeds as much as possible to perpetuate the species. Does this mean we can go around screwing any char bor we fancy? Oh, its our inbuilt biological program, its our raison d'etre! By any and all means necessary, can?

Or take another example. By any means necessary u say. Does that mean that those of a different political ideology trying to win power is justified to take up arms and bombs even murder to reach their political goal? Does violence not beget violence?

By any means necessary u say, so what kind of society and progress will the human race head towards if this logic still prevails. Heng ah.. fortunately most of the civilised world find it unacceptable and dun think this way. Seeing only self-interests is being very short-sighted. Likewise political developments must be for the good of society and country as a whole. It must be a healthy progress based on fairness, ethical principles and universally-accepted means.

sinsling said...

rec. ong

i humbly retract "by any and all means possible" and submit:

"by any and all means u can get away with"


Anonymous said...

I am all for blogs. We learn a great deal from the people at ground zero. Various opinions, and the freedom of speech! Amen!
The Singapore suits appear 'homophobic'? makes me think of the ostrich's head in the sand. Sorry about the choice of words. They should have respected your wish. Any govt-controlled newspaper will 'white-wash' everything and say nothing.