At a time when the credibility of the PAP-government and mainstream media is at an all-time low, both of them appear to have joined hands to declare war on alternative media and Singaporean bloggers. Over the past couple of years, some leading bloggers like Alex Au and Ravi Philemon have been either served lawyer’s letters or openly criticised by Ministers. And today, the govt’s official mouthpiece Straits Times via their political writer du jour Tessa Wong published a two page feature warning people on the hazards of reading Internet news and blogs.
In this feature, ST profiled some leading bloggers in a negative way and ran the list like a rogue gallery with rather biased writeups on each blogger in which it mentioned “wrongs” done by several of those featured without giving the context of what happened nor giving the bloggers’ side of the story.
Many people have questioned the story angle and intent of this report. Tessa’s article is supposedly about the Internet in general yet she only highlighted a very selective group of bloggers and websites – all of whom are socio-political commentators known for their frankness in criticising wrongdoings by the MSM and the PAP government. Why was there no mention of other more established popular bloggers like Mr Brown? Some readers have also asked why the female bloggers were not mentioned? Respected bloggers like Kirsten Han and Molly Meek come to mind easily and yet they were missing from the “honour roll”.
The entire article clearly looked biased from start to finish commencing with the subheadline that said “Online posts that spread misinformation have heightened concerns over how this can cause panic and erode trust in public institutions”….to the ending para that exhorted consumers to become better at “spotting fakes, rumours and conjecture”.
Tessa also started her essay to demolish online credibility by quoting a reader as saying he takes online articles with a pinch of salt as they are “less reliable and more polarising than mainstream outlets”. She also made it a point to repeat her key message throughout her article that false news and speculation are rampant online and that blogs and online sites are “still less trustworthy” than mainstream media (a desperate attempt to try and make ST look good?).
For good measure, she even threw in a side report giving readers a checklist of advice on how to sort fact from fiction. Ironically, the advice she gave is advice that many Singaporeans are already applying especially to mainstream media which, as everyone knows, serves not the people’s interest but to protect and promote the PAP. Her advice included asking readers of online media to consider who is the creator and source of the article. Are they authoritative and is there potential conflict of interest? She also advised readers to check if the article has an agenda and advised that they think about what they read as even photos and visuals can be manipulated and taken “out of context to distort or influence perceptions…”
How ironic! Just look at the layout of Tessa’s feature which childishly carried visual cues with drawings of the thumbs down sign in red squares strategically placed ALL over the two pages.
What’s the purpose of these visual cues? Obviously ST is trying to manipulate readers’ perceptions to try and get them to view bloggers and online media as Bad, Bad, Bad. Thanks for the advice Tessa. I am sure readers will be even more alert now to ST’s biased agenda to serve as guard dog for the G. This feature by ST btw is a fine example of skewed reporting.
ST would do well to reflect on why its credibility is at an all time low and why more and more people do not trust it. That ST has had to resort to giving expensive free gifts like cameras to lure new subscribers in recent years says a lot for its dwindling readership. Lately, it has also taken to promoting its “star” writers in large advertorials in an attempt to boost its credibility. All these efforts, in my view, will come to nought so long as ST continues to offer biased one sided views that fail to represent the truth and reflect reality.
As for the government’s stance on shackling the Internet by attacking the credibility of established websites like The Online Citizen and reputable bloggers like Alex Au, it just proves that they are desperate and getting worried about the general elections in 2016. Clearly, the Internet has given long-silenced Singaporeans a voice and many new sources of information and this has badly dented the G’s strategy of keeping us as an ignorant and unquestioning people.
Our govt is afraid of Singaporeans’ ability to think critically and to discern. And we will become increasingly careful and discerning when we read anything, be it from mainstream or online media. The point is, we can and we will read as much as we want and make our own decisions on who and what is credible.
Declaring war on alternative online media and bloggers is plain stupid as it will not increase the people’s trust in the G nor in mainstream media. Such attacks simply underscore how desperate the tyrants have become and how they fail understand that respect and trust have to be earned the right way – through their own actions and merit.