There was an interesting ST article today titled “Old and new media don’t have to be strange bedfellows” by journalist Lynn Lee. I do not subscribe to the online version of the paper and therefore am unable to republish the article in full.
The reason I found it so interesting was that the article, not so much the contents of it but rather the article as an object, was symptomatic of the estranged relationship between the old and new media as is experienced in Singapore. To borrow Marshall Mcluhan’s “the medium is the message”, the decision by the ST journalist to ‘engage’ a blogger through the national press demonstrated why there remains a divide between the old and new media advocates.
Before I confuse everyone further, let me briefly provide the context.
The incident that triggered the article was a talk conducted by two ST journalists on “Journalistic Integrity” at a JC. The invited journalists took issue with a blog entry of the event by an attendee of the talk, one Joel Tan. I wont get into the details of his blog entry as it can be read here.
The journalists were upset with the blogger for unfairly dismissing them without asking where they stood on specific issues and accused him of misquoting them and taking their comments out of context.
The journalist was critical of the blogger for not directly engaging them during the Q&A portion of the talk. A fair enough point if you ask me. But what proved to be puzzling was that instead of engaging the blogger on his blog, the journalists chose to instead write an article on the national broadsheet.
This decision surely runs counter to her self-righteous claim that the mainstream media is being more “more inclusive of alternative media” and seeks to “coexist and work” with alternative media. Admitting that there are alternative voices and haphazardly citing them from time to time is NOT being inclusive.
And as for her assertion that much of online chatter is reactive to mainstream media stories, its nothing much to boast about considering the resources they have at their disposal, not to mention that its their job. It would be like a nationally-funded professional bodybuilder scoffing at the attempts of ordinary folks working out in a gym. And lets not forget that they readily admitted that they thrawl through online forums to gather scoops.
When will journalists realize that it is not our intention to rival them in news gathering? We cite mainstream media articles not to claim ownership of news stories but to offer alternative readings of news. It is NOT an attempt to be alternative news sources.
But let us put aside this childish bickering over who is more credible, objective and what not and go back to my point about the “medium being the message”. The reason old and new media advocates are strange bedfellows is due to the fact that both parties do not wish or are unable to engage each other in their respective platforms. Lynn Lee had a chance to cross that bridge but she chose not to; making her article an insincere monologue.