Anyway, here is Mr Miyagi's latest column in TODAY:
The MSM's favourite attack on bloggers' credibility is to point to the bloggers' supposed anonymity. Anonymity, the MSM would have you believe, necessarily leads to irresponsibility, and irresponsibility means that bloggers shouldn't be trusted. A tiresome, flawed point, but let me offer you a new angle for looking at it.The 'faceless' up in arms
Bloggers riled about assertions that they are ignorant and lack creativity
Wednesday • March 22, 2006
OVER the weekend, some local newspapers took to highlighting blogs and the elections.
The Weekend Today ran a front page story about bloggers and whether "they know the rules" regarding the elections — complete with a cover photograph depicting bloggers as faceless people with paper bags over their heads.
The world has so many blogs that the vast majority of them must necessarily be obscure. Most will attract only a small audience, if they have an audience at all. In other words, whether the blogger goes by his real name - eg Tan Ah Beng - or by some funny moniker - eg Mugster - it really doesn't matter. No one cares anyway. Except maybe Ah Beng or Mugster himself.
What about the famous bloggers? The local MSM loves to harp on the anonymity issue, but it's a red herring if you ask me. The true identities of Singapore's prominent bloggers are hardly ever a secret anyway. Take for example the Big Three of the Singapore blogosphere - Mr Brown, Mr Miyagi and Xiaxue.
Each of them states their real names on their blogs. Mr Brown is Lee Kin Mun. Mr Miyagi is Benjamin Lee. Xiaxue is Wendy Cheng. Errr, so what? Mr Brown and Mr Miyagi are much more interesting than Kin Mun & Benjamin. "Xiaxue" definitely has more advertising and marketing value than "Wendy".
Think also about Agagooga, Yawning Bread, Legal Janitor, Cowboy Caleb, Popagandhi and Mr Wang, to name a few. Some of us mention our real names on our blogs, and some of us don't (others, like Mr Wang, get their real names mentioned on their blogs by their fan club members). The truth is that Singapore is such a small place that if you're really a prominent blogger, it's quite easy for people to put two and two together and find out who you really are. Cowboy Caleb apparently keeps his true identity a secret. But he also organises big parties and invites 100 bloggers for drinks. How secret do you think his identity is?
Interestingly, the MSM has interviewed (and sought to interview) Mr Wang on several occasions. In most of these dealings, Mr Wang has been quite open about his real name (It's a bit awkward to do a telephone interview and have the person keep addressing you as "Mr Wang Says So"). In other words, even the Straits Times itself knows who Mr Wang is. A few of these ST journalists have also been highly amused by Mr Wang's blog articles about their other colleagues.
Some time ago, the Institute of Policy Studies even invited Mr Wang to attend a meeting about blogging. The Singapore government wished, through IPS, to gain feedback from prominent bloggers so that it could understand this blogging phenomenon a bit better. Now, how can any blogger attend this meeting and still really keep his identity a secret from the government? That's a bit farfetched. (Oh and if you do not believe that this meeting was held, please ask Yawning Bread, Mr Brown and Mr Miyagi, who attended).
So I don't think it's fair at all for the MSM to keep harping on the point that bloggers are anonymous. They're not - at least, the prominent ones usually are not. Even if they do not use their real names on their blogs, it's relatively easy to find out. One common way is to ask them.
The rest of the article doesn't interest me much, but I reproduce it below for the sake of completeness.
And The Straits Times declared last week that only 1 per cent of the population found blogs "credible", as opposed to 60 per cent who found newspapers credible.
As you can imagine, this riled some bloggers. Blogger "Jeff Yen" (jeffyen.blogspot.com) pounced on this report, even suggesting his own headline.
"Even the survey commissioned by the newspaper found that 40 per cent of respondents don't find newspapers to be credible … I mean, wow! The title of this article shouldn't be about bloggers; it should really be: 'Almost Half Of This Newspaper's Readers Don't Find It Credible!'," he writes.
The blog "Brand New Malaysia" (brandmalaysia.com) commiserated with its Singaporean counterparts, disagreeing with the finding that people didn't find blogs credible.
"In my trips to the city-state, I see people reading blogs in shopping complexes, on mobile phones and over food and drinks. As I pass people in offices, I see them taking 'short-breaks' by surfing popular blogs — both for entertainment and news.
"I know a whole set of people — professionals and highly-placed corporate citizens — who sneer at the newspapers, and instead rely on news source from BBC and other online news organisations," writes its author, Mack Zuklifi.
He adds: "I know propaganda when I see it. Stay strong, Singapore bloggers. We know the truth of the matter."
The Void Deck (www.thevoiddeck.org) comments: "The Today report also makes it seem that bloggers are out of sync with the legalities going on … 'welcome to the real world, bloggers' is a cold-water rude wake-up call for us to accept that we'd better shut up and fade away."
Seksi Matashutyrmouf (sieteocho7-8.blogspot.com) says of traditional media: "They do not understand that the internet is like a city full of snipers, or an ant's nest. They used to have it their way. They used to be the police state, and used to watch our every move. Now the tables are turned … It is our turn to be Big Brother now.
He adds: "We will continue to ask questions, disseminate ideas, raise issues. We will still be able to influence public opinion, and at the end of the day that is the only thing that matters."
But to whether or not bloggers will actually get to do that, the Parliamentary Elections Act notwithstanding, this is something the pundits will be looking forward to observing come election time.
As Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma (commentarysingapore. blogspot.com) puts it, it isn't a matter of how bloggers talk about the elections — it may be a case of whether bloggers bother to do it in the first place.
"It would surprise many of my regular readers, but frankly I am not particularly interested in the upcoming elections. As far as I'm concerned, it will be an event with lots of excitement and fanfare, but even before the dust settles we all know who will win and does it really make any difference whether they have 77, 79 or 81 seats in Parliament?" he wrote in response to an email from a newspaper journalist.