Thursday, 1 October 2009

Singapore’s New Media: New for How Long?

Singapore's New Media (NM) is growing up – and being taken seriously.
The rivalry between the Mainstream Media (MSM) and the NM is heating up. The past few weeks have seen statements from the Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew and Prime Minister Lee directly addressing the NM.

The Singapore establishment is increasingly reacting to the online 'chatter' among Singapore's netizens

Several other instances point to the increasing importance of the NM in Singapore's evolving media structure.
An online site reported on a controversial speech delivered by NMP Viswa Sadasivan at the LKY School of Public Policy last month. The NMP wrote a detailed letter to the site to request the report be removed from the site.
If Singapore's internet media is an unimportant channel for news the NMP will not have been concerned about the report.
Then about a week ago the Straits Times newspaper published an opinion piece in its print edition which was taken directly from an internet site, the Online Citizen. The publication by the newspaper confirms that at least selective content in the NM is credible and worthy of a broader mainstream audience.
Statistically, a popular local online site recently reported that a media survey indicates that the top 5 search terms during the last 24 months are for independent online content providers, including the Temasek Review.
The last piece of evidence comes through an opinion piece by the co-author of the book, "Men in White." In the Straits Times article "Criticise, but please get your facts right", Mr. Sonny Yap (also the Deputy Political Editor of the newspaper) directly addressed criticisms raised by Singapore netizens.

Clearly, the NM is now being heard by all levels of Singapore's society.
While some may viewed it as a threat others see it as a 'balancing' factor in a society where the state owns and regulates all traditional media.
It is still too early for the NM to believe it has come of age. Much of the NM's content remains poorly written and relies on blatant anti-establishment diatribes for impact. Facts are often sacrificed at the altar of expediency.
Yet, the popularity of the NM in Singapore is testament to the dearth of outlets available for constructive debate. The NM is trying valiantly to fill the gap. Naturally, it is expected that the professionalism associated with NM outlets will increase over time.
It may not be long now before the New Media becomes defunct and becomes a part of the Mainstream Media.

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