Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Reflections on turning 170 today

Reproduction of the very first issue of The Straits Times on July 15, 1845

On its 170th anniversary today, this newspaper is both an ultimate Singapore pioneer and a youthful groundbreaker. It cleaves to a long tradition of "the honourableness" of journalistic purposes and "faithful advocacy" of the public interest, while being "ever identified with the general interests" of the Singapore community, as declared by the very first editorial of The Straits Times, on July 15, 1845. And it looks forward to embracing ever- evolving forms of journalism spurred by a digital world, as the present team of journalists avows

Imagining the future, as newspaper people are wont to do, 19th-century American editors envisaged readers seeing "every event in the kinetoscope (a motion-picture device)" alongside the published news, "a machine for transforming pictures by wire", and scope for readers to tailor content to fit their "own individual and particular wants". Prescient as their predecessors were, today's editors might be a little more circumspect about predicting the future of newspapers, given the quick march of technology and the accelerating pace with which news content is both produced and consumed. New forms might create novel ways of communicating and interacting with future users. Just when you thought the latest thing was the tablet, came the smartphone, and now the even smarter watch, with news being delivered faster, shorter and sharper, round the clock, as it happens.

For these very reasons, some critics claim that print newspapers have no future. That would be to ignore the quintessence of the newspaper, once dependent on pulp but now also borne over the air. As a cultural product, its dynamic and dialogic impulses represent an enduring recognition that its audience lies at the heart of all it does. The Straits Times' early existence was intertwined with the merchant community here. But as migrants poured in and planted the seeds of a nation, the paper sought to serve not just the elites and tuans, but also a broad mass audience, by being both authoritative and accessible. Over the years, it has captured the tumult and thrill of events without missing a beat - the fall of Singapore to invading forces, the scourge of Sars, and the triumphs of the nation's table tennis and football teams.

read more

Media must be credible, balanced and objective: PM Lee
ST170 exhibition grand opening at Art Science Museum.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

From its first issue on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times has chronicled the Singapore story.

And by telling the story of Singapore, through Singaporean eyes, the paper has helped its readers make sense of developments around them. In doing so, the paper became an important part of the Singapore story, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at a celebration of the newspaper's 170th anniversary.

Mr Lee, tracing the legacy of Singapore's most-read newspaper, said: "If you want to know what happened in Singapore or in the region around us, The Straits Times is an indispensable place to start.
"Because it has reported news reliably and objectively over the years, and it has done so through Singaporean eyes, helping Singaporeans make sense of the world and our place in it."
read more

The Straits Times must continue to 'report news for Singaporeans through Singaporean eyes'

From its very first issue on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times has closely chronicled the Singapore story

And it must continue to do so by upholding national interests and being cognisant of Singapore's social and regional context when reporting and commenting on sensitive or emotional issues, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday at a celebration of the newspaper's 170th anniversary.

Even as the nation's largest newspaper adapts to a changing media landscape with its recent redesign, Mr Lee hopes it will continue to be conscious of its important role in Singapore, and maintain its "hallmark of credible, balanced, objective reporting".

read more

170 years no mean feat for a print daily

There are no words to express my astonishment at receiving yesterday's copy of The Straits Times.

My immediate response on browsing through the bumper issue was to message my friends to get a copy before they ran out.

The 60-page special on the 170 years of The Straits Times ("Living History") was certainly a gift to all Singaporeans, and a timely one for the nation's 50th birthday.

read more

The Straits Times celebrates 170 years with exhibition on Singapore STories at ArtScience Museum
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong looking at blow-ups of past articles from The Straits Times, at the newspaper's ST170 exhibition grand opening at the ArtScience Museum on July 15, 2015.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

On the day that former President S. R Nathan took over as executive chairman of The Straits Times in 1984, he was exhorted by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew to take care of the 140-year-old paper, which he likened to a "bowl of china".

"You break it, I can piece it together, but it will never be the same. Try not to," said the late Mr Lee, who died aged 91 on March 23.

On Wednesday, The Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said that "the fine china is intact".

read more

Politicising the AHPETC saga, and why ST got it wrong

At some point, we would expect the AHPETC town management saga to be trotted out for a political showing, if not a showdown, as we round the corner for the next General Election. But few might expect the first volley to be fired before nomination day has been announced, and by no less than Singapore’s leading national broadsheet, which the Prime Minister himself had recently called “credible, balanced and objective”.

In a commentary titled “The lose-lose political problem of AHPETC”, assistant political editor of The Straits Times Rachel Chang said that the “sullen, silent and obfuscatory” Workers’ Party is playing its “favourite victim card”. She also noted the “whiff of cronyism and opportunism around FMSS”, WP’s managing agent for its Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council, which she believes straddles “the line between questionable governance and criminality”, even while noting that cronyism and opportunism are not illegal.

She surmised that “Aljunied and Punggol East voters have got, dollar for dollar, the worst value for town management services in Singapore”, although her colleagues in another article have interviewed a resident who noted that “the void decks are still swept and the rubbish is cleared” and “the neighbourhood is being taken care of, so I don’t worry that much.”

read more

Err, what’s the news here, Straits Times?
Read The Right Thing

This one is also news?

All town councils send out such notices to thousands of residents every year. Why Straits Times doesn’t report, “Ang Mo Kio Town Council tells residents to pay overdue service fees”?
  • Or “Marine Parade Town Council tells residents to pay overdue service fees”?
  • Or “Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council tells residents to pay overdue service fees”?
  • Or “Sembawang Town Council tells residents to pay overdue service fees”?
  • Oh, because this one is WP town council mah.
So must blow up big big. No news also become BIG news! Because Singaporeans must read the right thing!

related: Cardboard collectors story – Straits Times anyhow whack

read more