Wake Up Your Idea
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
  Creative Journalism

I believe that the media in Singapore is getting more and more guilty-conscious. I think those who are in the media industry actually do want to do proper journalism and stay true to the profession by providing the full information to the public.

Contrary to what most people believe, I think that the media is trying its best to work within the present restrictions such as self-censorship, and yet, bring us the full details without stepping on anyone's shoes. This predicament has given rise to what I call 'creative journalism'.

Let me elaborate:
According to today's report on the Channel News Asia website,

"Singapore has scored high marks in a survey on tourists' perception of the local service quality. ... After breaking it down into its component parts, the survey showed that what tourists want most is courtesy, along with product knowledge. ... The visitors also rank the service levels in Singapore higher than where they came from except for Japanese tourists who think the service quality at home is still better."

However, according to a report in the Bangkok Post website,

"Visitors from India, China and Indonesia prefer shops in Singapore to those at home, while Japanese maintain they get better service in Japan, a survey said Wednesday. ... One of the city-state's biggest shortcomings is lack of empathy from retail staff, defined as the degree of caring and individual attention given to customers, the survey found. More than one-third of respondents said that staff are insensitive and pressure customers with hard-sell tactics."

Clearly, certain facts and findings of the survey were shielded from us 'for our own good'. The fact that the countries which rated Singapore shopping better were all lesser economies compared to us and that clear shortcomings were not indicated in the CNA report demonstrate the typical style of the Singapore media industry - selective journalism.

BUT, there is a slow shift towards true journalism and it was evident during the GE2006 when quite a number of gaffes by the PAP were highlighted readily by the media. My view is that creative journalism is more than just rebelling against the status quo and bringing the details to the public. It's about not stepping out of line and still doing the job.

This is one of the clearest examples that I have found thus far:
In an article titled
"Singapore polls: WP can still contest Aljunied even if Gomez dropped, says minister" there was a crucial piece of awareness information inserted which had absolutely no relevance to the article and had no relation to the preceding paragraph or the one following it.

"PAP Chairman Lim Boon Heng said: "It is better if the WP...clears any doubt of transparency in the management of the WP. After all, this is a question they say of our government, that the government should be transparent. So one would expect the same standards of transparency that they're asking of the PAP to be imposed on the WP themselves."

Meanwhile an online petition has been started in support of Gomez. So far more than 300 people have signed it.

Mr Yeo also talked about the issue raised by some Singaporeans to Channel News Asia. They had said that they were concerned their identity card numbers could be purchased by political parties at the Elections Department."

This is a true example of creative journalism. Although it does not offend anyone by going into details, it gives the reader (the public) a chance to know there was an online petition which had a significant response. It is up to the reader to do a simple search which would lead him or her to the online petition itself.

In time to come, our local journalists would perfect this art of creative journalism and, in true Singaporean fashion, will be able to market this 'skill' to the world - way to go!

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