Saturday, November 14, 2009

In Malaysia online news media leads

Malaysia's print newspapers are notoriously selective in their coverage of the country's domestic politics.  Malaysiakini, now one of the country's top twenty websites, represented Malaysia's first genuine news alternative.   In fact, the website is a model of online media excellence for Asia and the developing world.

The question might be asked:  Why is there no Singaporekini?    Zhi Yuan and Lim Siow Kuan of Malaysiakini attempt to answer this question.    The writers note that the equivallent of Malaysiakini's readership of 100,000 would yield only 17,390 readers a day in Singapore.  Surely such a figure ought to achievable.  Yet an equivellent publication has not been attempted in Singapore.   Yuan and Kuan note that Singapore's media is highly controlled, its class of professional journalists and editors having been made comfortable.   They speculate that Singaporeans may simply have been rendered more brainwashed than Malaysians:
Singaporeans, especially those born after independence, have grown up knowing only the pro-government state press which explains why they are seldom able to distinguish between truths and spins inherent in the reports unlike an astute reader from a developed country like United States or United Kingdom. 

 ... Malaysians who have long been skeptical of the mainstream media's coverage of political affairs take an instant liking to Malaysiakini's independent streak almost immediately, facilitating its eventual ascension to the pinnacle of Malaysian journalism.
I'm not convinced educated Americans these days are that much better at distinguishing spin from fiction than educated Singaporeans.  And I would venture to speculate that concerning foreign affairs, Singaporeans are much better informed.   The Straights Times may not offer great local coverage, but in my opinion the paper is superior to all but two or three American newspapers when it comes to providing comprehensive coverage of international issues.

Does Singapore does lack a sufficient number of consumers desperate for critical reporting of local politics for a paper like Malaysiakini to succeed in the city state?  Perhaps.   Nevertheless, a number of good Singapore blogs exists, some of which I link to on the sidebar of JotAsean

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