Mr Brown's recent saga sparked this latest article, which subtly injects a new angle. Reading the article carefully, we seem to discover that the local MSM is quite concerned about the Mr Brown saga too. Not so much for the man himself, but about the implications of this episode, for the future of MSM. Note the opening lines of the article:
If it's Internet chatter, it's okay. But because it was published in a mainstream newspaper, it's not. So said Minister Lee Boon Yang, explaining the Government's stiff response to a newspaper column by blogger mr brown.Did you detect anything there? A weak cry of "Oh please, MICA .... you're not being fair to us journalists!", perhaps? Read the article for more sounds of faint protest. Some degree of mutedness is required because Bhavani has already forbidden local MSM from "championing issues" - and that surely includes the issue of MSM's own journalistic scope and freedom.
But of course the MSM is concerned. Singapore is already ranked 140th in the world for press freedom. SPH journalists must be regularly feeling embarrassed when they travel to international press events. Furthermore their coverage of GE 2006 did nothing to regain the trust of thinking Singaporeans. Retaining what credibility they still have is already an uphill struggle.
And now MICA has slapped them with the Bhavani commandments. So their scope for critical journalistic work is even further reduced.
Even worse for MSM, MICA has announced that while local MSM must obey the Bhavani commandments, bloggers need not. So effectively, the "alternative media" has advantages in the exact areas where local MSM is crippled.
Suppose for example that the PAP comes up with a new government policy which is seriously flawed. Bloggers such as Mr Wang, Molly Meek or Yawning Bread will be free to do research, study the policy, point out the problems and say, "Goodness, why is the PAP making such a terrible mistake?"
The MSM, however, cannot do that. Bhavani has spoken, and she has made it clear that journalists must not "undermine the Government's standing with the electorate". In other words, journalists cannot say that the PAP has gone wrong - even when the PAP has gone wrong.
And how long do you expect Singaporeans to trust newspapers like that? Far safer, and far more intelligent, to turn to "alternative media" to get an informed, reasoned view.
And that's why the local MSM is worried.
Technorati: Singapore; media; blogs.
Further Thoughts: Recently, Yawning Bread also overheard the MSM making some other strange noises to the Singapore government.