DJ Meatmachine (pigpog) wrote,
DJ Meatmachine

working in the press in singapore and elsewhere

cherian george again has some insightful analysis of the press situation in singapore, and by extension, malaysia and elsewhere.

he notes that election coverage in singapore this year has improved, by all measures. what about the singapore govt's repressive attitude towards the press, then? he explains this relationship: "there is a government that has always recognised that it must temper its impulse to control – not out of respect for liberal ideology, but because it knows if it completely destroys the mainstream media’s credibility, it will lose its main ideological vehicle."

so according to cherian, singapore's mainstream media--lets just call it the straits times--has a certain measure of independence guaranteed by the singapore government's understanding of what an effective ideological vehicle is.

that being the case, is there any point in being a journalist in singapore? "If you have no ties to Singapore, it is entirely rational to avoid practising journalism here. It is just too difficult. However, if you are a Singaporean with a love and respect for the written word, insatiable curiosity and a questioning mind, and a sense of duty to your community, the answer is equally clear: journalism in Singapore is challenging but still meaningful. If you are intelligent and conscientious, is the public better served by you stepping into the profession, or staying out? The answer is still the former."

does the same apply to journalism in malaysia then? Unfortunately, it appears the answer must be no, at least if you are working in the mainstream malaysian media. "If the PAP mismanages the press and utterly crushes the profession, the only journalists who’ll remain are the unthinking and unethical – stupid or self-serving sycophants"

"unthinking and unethical"--they would seem to be the most suitable terms to describe much of the work put out by the malaysian english-language press. because the ruling parties in malaysia have crushed the mainstream media, few 'intelligent and conscientious' young malaysians would be attracted to those institutions.

the good thing is, crushing the profession turns off enough readers to warrant an alternative. in malaysia's case, the country has an increasingly vibrant array of independent press. so the question is--do you want a mainstream press that may or may not be professionally run, with a small measure of independence, as defined by the ruling party, or do you want a mainstream press that's in a shambles, but with numerous small, independent alternatives that may or may not have the resources to do quality journalism? between the devil and the deep blue sea.
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