Sep 25, 2007

SPH Editor Looking A Bit Silly Again

Are bloggers journalists? Leslie Fong, an SPH editor, had this to say:

“No! Emphatically not! Whether in writing news stories or features, properly trained journalists check and double-check their facts, set these in context, work in relevant background information, insist on objectivity and balance, organise their material so their account flows smoothly and logically, and use temperate language unless there is a powerful reason to resort to strong words. Even in offering views, they ensure that the opinions expressed are based on fact, failing which, as any libel lawyer would tell you, what they write cannot be defended as fair comment.

Bloggers, on the other hand, just sound off as they please. They are not bound by professional standards and ethics, and are responsible to no one but themselves. So you read them at your own risk, or peril. Newspaper editors who give bloggers space, or even prominence, in their pages, in the hope that this will attract younger readers, are doing damage to their calling.”

Meanwhile, hot off the international press, we have this from AFP:

Yangon bloggers outsmart Myanmar censors
Agence France-Presse
Posted date: September 25, 2007

BANGKOK -- Savvy young bloggers in Myanmar are breaking through the military junta's tight Internet controls to post photos and videos of swelling anti-government protests, experts said Tuesday.

The government blocks almost every website that carries news or information about the Southeast Asian country, and even bars access to web-based email.

But an army of young techies in Yangon works around the clock to circumvent the censors, posting pictures and videos on blogs almost as soon as the protests happen.

Many of these images have been picked up by mainstream news organizations, because bloggers have managed to capture images that no one else can get.

When Myanmar's detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi stepped outside her home in Yangon to greet marching monks and supporters on Saturday, the only pictures of the landmark moment were posted on blogs.

....... These bloggers are mainly young university students in Yangon who have made it their mission to post messages and pictures since the anti-junta rallies broke out there on August 19, he said.

..... No foreign journalist has obtained a visa to enter Myanmar, under military since 1962, since the start of the anti-junta rallies, rights groups said.
Sounds like the whole world is depending on Yangon bloggers for news of what's happening in Myanmar. Who has time to think about Leslie Fong? He's just one of those dinosaurs left behind by the Internet age. Leslie's cocksureness is certainly amusing though. I like this part of his quote:
"Newspaper editors who give bloggers space, or even prominence, in their pages, in the hope that this will attract younger readers, are doing damage to their calling."
It implies that bloggers in general are just very excited and over-eager and just dying to have some space & publicity in a newspaper. Actually, when the Straits Times first launched STOMP and I was invited to join them and go for a photoshoot, my immediate reaction was "Gawd, no."

Maybe one day ... when they have improved themselves. Currently, Singapore's ranking for press freedom (147th out of 167 countries) is just too embarrassingly low.

20 comments:

superblogger said...

Actually, fact of matter is that journalists cannot be bloggers.

Thus the rise of bloggers.

hugewhaleshark said...

Bloggers who give newspaper editors space, or even prominence, in their pages, are doing damage to their calling.

Stephen Yeo said...

Quote: "properly trained journalists check and double-check their facts, set these in context, work in relevant background information, insist on objectivity and balance, organise their material so their account flows smoothly and logically"

I can't believe Leslie Fong was able to say this without blushing. Just read some of the stuff that appeared in our compliant mainstream media over the years and you'll realise his points about "properly trained journalists" are utter bullshit: http://del.icio.us/rudeshock/Straits-Times

mingz said...

at least you blog has more content than the starblog..

jef said...

"properly trained journalists check and double-check their facts, set these in context, work in relevant background information, insist on objectivity and balance..

Even in offering views, they ensure that the opinions expressed are based on fact"

Reading that, I almost died laughing from a stroke

Anonymous said...

this really reflects the mindsets of most print journalists nowadays. i think they're afraid of the competition with online journalists, resulting in some rather hostile attitudes. and i find it hard to blame them for it. after all, it's just normal to react this way, albeit totally unprofessional.

HH said...

I think Leslie is just trying to justisfy his existance desperately.

The fact is more and more people are getting their news from alternate medium rather.

Not many people read Straits Times these days except for the jokes I guess.

spyer said...

Evidently, Mr Fong does not have a sense of reality. He needs a dose of new international lower rankings to wake up. He should worry about himself and his paper than to worry about the bloggers. Currently, it is his paper's integrity that is on the line and not the bloggers'.

Haven't he realised that people are getting sick and tired of the party newsletter? And he cannot do a damn thing about it. The money is in the consumer's pocket, you cannot force me to buy the newsletter, unlike the current "insurance crap".

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that the ST has been printing pictures of the Myanmmar protest on their headline news.

I really wonder where they got their pictures from ....... could they have gotten the pictures from *GASP* blogs??!?!!

Chonghan

James Chia said...

Our MSM gives one side of the story so it's better for us to give the side of it.

Denzuko1 said...

Funny comment from the SPH editor. If professional journalists from SPH claimed by him have indeed the integrity to check and double check their sources, then they won't have this arguement on whether it is laksa, mee siam, mai hum or mai hiam.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's us not forget the "fixing" and the "buying". The video was clear as day of what our esteemed leader had said that day. I think that the reporters checked and re-checked that those words were spoken and choose to not include them in their reports.

Oh, yes, they checked and re-checked with the "upstairs" people.

shredofdoubt said...

Superblogger: Actually, there are some journalists that are bloggers as well. To name a few, there's Mr Brown and his column in the Today paper which he unfortunately lost his place in. And for a less local example, there's Dan Gillmor. He was a journalist with Kansas city Times, Detroit Free Press and a columnist at San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's daily newspaper and now owns his own blog which can be found at http://dangillmor.com/

hh: on your point about less and less people getting their news from alternative sources, thats true, and here's some stats
http://www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/reference/yos/statsT-culture.pdf

On the point of objectivity, accuracy and balance, i think there are going to be some improvements as a result of the competition the online media provides. (assuming that our dear journalists friends do realise that they're days of playing monopoly is over)

Anonymous said...

For a more complete approach to news I still think one should read the blogs as well which, as someone said earlier, gives the other side of the story. A perfect example was the last election where opposition rallies were given scant coverage in the MSM compared to the PAP rallies. Then there are negative news that they choose not to publish and which blogs normally like to highlight. When news are filtered and heavily edited it becomes no better than propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Ijust wonder how Leslie Fong feels about ST always trailing behind the news from the bloggers when it comes to sensitive issues eg. remember the election crowds at the opposition camps during last year's election; opposition news; gays issues; etc.

I suppose they need a few days clearance period from those from heaven !!! Aren't they ashamed of being labelled as running dogs!.

Anonymous said...

Leslie Fong is a card carrying PAP member lah. He is a partisan player in politics. Don't believe go ask him. Bhavani please go check up on Leslie Fong.

Blogter said...

Shredofdoubt,

"Actually, there are some journalists that are bloggers as well. To name a few, there's Mr Brown and his column in the Today paper which he unfortunately lost his place in... And for a less local example, there's ..."

Mr Brown is one of the world's most influential people now. You can check it out. (what was his ranking, 1001st or something?) As a result of being erm.. sacked. And why was he sacked? In Singapore, journalists can't be bloggers. Look at Mr Brown's blog nowadays. No way the BrownShows (BS) can fit into the MSM.

The rise of bloggers is closely tied to the advent of the internet. Certain authoritarian institutions were also severely displeased with the advent of the printing press, as any Protestant worth his salt would confirm.

Some journalist claim never to have read Mr wang and Mr Brown and never will?? Sheez.. how can you be a literate Singaporean and not have...

Granted some blogs are utter drivel. Hey, it comes with the territory, and most COBers know that. So they read with critical minds knowing for sure that some blogs are nonsense. Even Mr Wang gets it wrong now and then, but you can't deny he's thought-provoking.

[COB=Community of Bloggers]

Superblogger

Mr Wang Says So said...

Link:

Can Bloggers Be Journalists? - By Insane Polygons.

Blogter said...

Makes you wonder if they're internet-phobic, going by the way they're making boo-boos preventable by just 1 google click away.

http://www.insanepoly.com/blog/?p=209

brian koh said...

i professionally think that bloggers are not journalists, or at least not yet. but all journalists should be bloggers.

why?

journalists really are properly trained. i come from a public relations background, and journalists are trained in what the media industry actually is. it is a professional obligation to serve the public good and to be a watch dog to preserve democracy. (theoratically speaking, maybe not so true in Singapore)

but yeah, the nature of blogs is that it gives publishing power to the people. but does that mean bloggers automatically become journalists? there is a trained discipline when it comes to writing for the press, and though i will agree that with blogs being more commonplace, blogs are finding its way into the media industry. but it's not just about writing and publishing, it's about seeing yourself as a member of the media, and if your writings can shape public opinion, what then is your social responsibility?

maybe in the future we'll see pro-bloggers, or gonzo-journalists, who don't follow the old guard of writing for the press, but perhaps do so with a firey tenacity or highly personalised view. perhaps this is the future, and right now times are a changing. but if you asked me who's working in the media industry, no, bloggers are not journalists, or at least not yet.

case in point, you have a video camera, you've never studied filmmaking or you've never worked in the film industry, but you make a really good short film, or you have a natural talent for cinematography. does that instantly make you a professional cinematographer? do you understand the theories of framing a shot, and not just experience or head knowledge about how cameras and frames work?

there is a physical framing, and there is a professional framing of a shot, or a story which i believe professional writers utilise when they publish content.

i'm all for power to the people, and i think various old traditions will be dealt away with and the media industry worldwide will make room for the new publishing content of bloggers, but again, i draw you back to knowing how the industry works and where your social responsibilities lie.