03 August 2006

Andy Ho Is Merely A Self-Indulgent, Opinionated Fellow Expressing His Silly Views

No, he's not. He can't be. Why not? Well, Andy Ho is a journalist. And according to Andy, a journalist could never be a self-indulgent, opinionated person just expressing a view. Furthermore, in Andy's mind, bloggers are not journalists. Therefore journalists are not bloggers. Here comes his amazing leap of logic - since journalists are not bloggers, bloggers must be self-indulgent, opinionated persons just expressing their views.

Are you astounded yet? Perhaps not. Seriously speaking, this is NOT the worst kind of article we've ever seen from SPH. Here's Andy's article, with the relevant sentence highlighted by me.

By Andy Ho, Senior Writer
Aug 02, 2006
The Straits Times

THE Government recently ticked off a columnist-blogger going by the moniker of 'mr brown' for airing what were deemed to be cynical and non-constructive remarks. A minister argued that because the views appeared in the print medium, the writer had to be more responsible, as compared to the case if those views had remained Internet chatter.

Clearly, the Government feels that bloggers have more wiggle room than mainstream journalists whose vehicle can 'push broadcast' to millions while bloggers can only 'pull narrowcast' mainly to the converted.

Some ask if bloggers are journalists at all or merely self-indulgent, opinionated folks expressing their views.This invites the question of what a journalist is in the first place.

Journalists are those who primarily do two things, maybe one more than the other in each individual case: ....

For the rest of the article, click here. I'm not commenting further, because I am on blogging vacation. Besides, Andy's article is just not worth my trouble. To me, it's just mostly misinformed, self-indulgent opinion.

By the way, click here to see a few hundred international examples. Of journalists who blog. And bloggers who journal. And newspapers with blogs. And blogs with newspapers. Whatever. You get the point. Even if Andy doesn't. Or won't. Or can't, since logical thinking doesn't seem to be his strong suit.

Not that the average blogger in Singapore wants to be mistaken for a journalist. This is Singapore, after all. Journalism isn't such a respectable profession here. I mean, our press has such terrible rankings, internationally.

Damn. I hope Andy doesn't start a blog. He'd give us serious bloggers a bad name.

Technorati: ; ; .


Anonymous said...

Pffttt... his columns are usually very poorly written too.

Passing off opinions as facts, no regard for research that points in a different direction, pushing his puritan agenda more often than not.

However, this is actually an artificial polarisation of issues. It's actually a common trick amongst mainstream media. You're either for or against abortion, guns, smoking, blogging, etc. No middle ground.

Anonymous said...

The article was so flawed.

Whispers from the heart said...

Haha, at least most bloggers can say we don't blog for the money!

He, who is paid and yet churns out such silly unprofessional rubbish, should better watch out for his karma.

Lately, there is a spate of writings 'character assinating' bloggers as a group. Or was it the matrix affecting me?

The enemy of the state, sequel.

Anonymous said...

anon scaredycat: I agree that his columns are very poorly written, and not merely because many are chest-beating tirades trying so badly to demonstrate some self-supposed expertise in current events -- it's also really frustrating to read.

Because of his constant use.

Of sentence fragments.

Ah, my poor brain. I wish I hadn't clicked on that link.

Anonymous said...

cant agreed more. i dont really get his point. like many st journalists, they try too hard to impress. or try to be hip (read: stomp) but seriously, how hip can suckers be?

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha! Andy Ho will certainly give bloggers a bad name. Then again if he does start to blog, he would be swallowing his own words.

Another one with poor writing skills is Jenadas Devan, who enjoys penning 1000 words when the point can be conveyed in 20 words or less.

Anonymous said...

i thought i was the only one who felt this way about those two. when i read their articles, i get the impression that they trying to say a lot but on second thought, aren't really saying anything.

Anonymous said...

well, as a former journalist at ST, Andy isnt all that bad...he's pretty ok with those medical analysis...but when it comes to understanding the political relevance of bloggers, ah... it's a totally different ball game=)

Anonymous said...

libel alert! consider rephrasing title.

singaporean said...

Woah, the anonymous commentors must write for New York Times or something... Andy Ho and Jenadas Devan are the two best writers in ST, especially when they comment on their area of expertise. Even Pranay Gupte had a few nice words about Andy Ho's technical editing, despite his acrimonious departure from ST. Did you know that Andy Ho has, on top of some Harvard masters degree, a medical degree as well? I had stopped reading ST for a long time, and articles from the two are the most sorely missed. (For columnists who regularly write inconsequential time wasting articles, try enduring through something Asad Latif writes)

But Andy Ho can write crap, especially when he strays from his area of expertise. Just because he is an expert in some fields doesnt make him expert in everything, but for some reason, he has overwhelming overconfidence in commenting about new technology trends, like blogging for example, and he probably doesnt know how silly he sounds.

Anonymous said...

'benjamin ho' / 'singaporean':

I'm terribly curious, what exactly does Andy Ho have higher degrees in?

Anyway, more Ho:


"The Bulletin asked Ho why his article did not address Singapore’s links with Burma, and if his article was entirely his work. Ho, who boasts an MBA from Yale University and a PhD from MIT, emailed back: “Where’s the beef ... show me your evidence. Do you know someone at The Bulletin with my training or credentials to be able to go over my stuff intelligently? I doubt it.”"

Someone wasn't breast-fed, no?

Anonymous said...

I have read some of Andy's stuff and I disagree with most of his opinions and often wonder how he makes all his assumptions in the first place.

And this is over non-political matters.

I have never met him, though.

I think we should not pour opprobrium on Andy just because he support's MICA's view, but rather because we disagree with the quality of his journalism.

On Brown's sacking, well what do we expect? He works for their company, they have the right to let him go if they don't like what he writes. Does anyone think that his "liver" episode was appreciated for its humor by those he was actually making fun off?


Anonymous said...

One last comment on academic qualifications.....many of these higher degrees are quite easy to apply for after your first basic degree, esp if they are in these liberal arts spheres.

The universities concerned are just out to make a quick buck from you.

Often is it said, many academic qualifications are sought by those as a substitute for true ability.


Anonymous said...

Andy’s Argument Against Bloggers (Argumentum Ad Bloggeriam) works something like this, with some generalising on my part for clarity’s sake:

1. He first defines the ideal journalist.
1.1 Journalists gather and comment on news: “they get accurate information about something new… they analyse issues…and comment upon it….”

2. He secondly distinguishes this ideal from the blogger.
2.1 Unlike journalists, bloggers do not (a) gather news accurately, nor (b) favour accuracy over entertaining readers, nor (c) are subject to stringent review: “that which sets the professional journalist - whose first obligation is to be accurate - apart from the blogger - whose first obligation is to be interesting…. This structure entails questioning… and editing to ensure… established standards….”
2.2 Unlike journalists, bloggers “feed on traditional media for content, remaking news”, and are so not true reporters but “meta-reporters”.

3. He concludes from 1 & 2 that (practically all) bloggers are not journalists.

Exposition of Argumentum Ad Bloggeriam:

From 2.1(a) & 2.2, If journalists are accurate news-gatherers, and bloggers gather news from journalists, then outside of other factors, there is no real chance of inaccuracy for bloggers to work with material gathered from news reports. Moreover, there is no need to narrow the definition of journalists to first-hand news-gathers. Some forms of journalism can and in practise take place away from the events themselves. Consider political commentators and contrast them with field reporters. Consider how the Straits Times gathers its international news from agencies like Reuters. Consider how historians write from material written by others long gone.

From 2.1(b), entertaining the readership is not only the purview of bloggers, but of the newspapers. Bloggers may be biased for their want to entertain. But newspapers may be biased in this same way, and additionally for political and economic interests, and standards which can restrict free speech, and so on. Essentially, all entities have characteristics which may bias them in given ways. The industry of media news may perhaps have more reason to be biased than do roaming bloggers.

From 2.1(c), the stringent review process of newspapers can restrict because of political and economic interests as much as it liberates through checks and balances. Such a process may be used effectively in determining the general standard of a given class (e.g. bloggers). It does not, however, do well in condemning, too, the few of good judgement within that class (See ‘sweeping generalization’).

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

It is actually a very poorly written article.

Simply look at it as if it is a General Paper essay, Andy is the student and you are the teacher.

The ideas simply do not connect. He makes certain points and then "supports" them with assertions which even if true, do not actually support his points.

Elsewhere he makes certain (big) points but does not even attempt to support them at all!

Anonymous said...

Wow, so judgemental. Actually I think Andy's piece is quite balanced if you read it without some pre-formed prejudice, and yes, offensive in some areas, like,

"The blogging world has no professional writers, publishers, printers or distributors."

So bloody wrong but the next sentence makes sense, no?

"There is no top-down structure. So who weeds out inaccuracies, lies, spoofs or plain bad taste - and bad writing? Other blogs? If so, who determines the hierarchy of blog believability?"

And Andy is actually complimenting bloggers.

"Essentially then, blogging provides an opportunity for citizens to reflect on their place in the world and develop solidarity with and communicate their needs, demands or desires to others, he said."

"With Technorati, the blog search engine, showing more than 940,000 blogs that are associated with the search word 'Singapore', it may be high time the Government began to take this more seriously than just chatter."

Okay, so he's a confused individual about -some- things but he does present -some- gems that are worth mentioning rather just slamming him outright.

Joseph Chiang said...

"There is no top-down structure. So who weeds out inaccuracies, lies, spoofs or plain bad taste ..."

Are you refering to the government? Then I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry har, where are the gems in Andy's article? I cannot find them leh. All I see is a lot of lousy reasoning which is completely exposed by Singapore Angle.

Most scary is Andy's conclusion. He says that the government should step in to control & regulate bloggers because bloggers, by the act of blogging, become more politically conscious and intelligent. It's the Matrix all over again, don't let the people wake up!!!

Anonymous said...

"inaccuracies, lies, spoofs or plain bad taste" ...?

You guys have forgotten. Andy Ho is an SPH journalist. According to MICA's rules, he isn't allowed to speak the truth unless it is non-cynical and non-despondent; he cannot report any social problems unless he can think of some constructive solutions; he supposedly can't write in praise of the Singapore government even if the Singapore government has done something really good; he supposedly can't write to criticise the government even if the government has done something really bad; his opinions cannot be published unless they are of "sufficient" standards (and MICA is the judge of those standards).

So what "truths" or "accuracies" can you realistically expect from Andy Ho? Aiyah, might as well photostat MICA press releases and just stick them into the Straits Times. More or less the same thing.

singaporean said...

I stand corrected about Andy Ho's non-medical qualifications, but it wouldnt surprise me if he is a MD+PhD, hence his arrogance.

I am secure enough with my intelligence to express unpopular opinion, but some people should seriously consider weaning and take some solid foods. Hiding under Mommy's skirt at a ripe old age of 10 is an embarassment. Anyway, someone with such intolerance for alternative views should seriously consider joining the PAP, if and when they grow up that is.

Anonymous said...

To understand journalism better, refer to Stephen Colbert's analysis.


The President makes decisions; he's the Decider; (Govt)

The Press Secretary (MICA) announces those decisions;

And you people (Straits Times journalists) of the Press just type them down. Make , Announce, Type. Just put them through a spell-check and GO HOME.

Exactly what every ST reporter has been doing since 1965.

BunnyButt said...

I have never respected Andy Ho anyway (strange enough,there ARE people out there who do!!!) - I'm so glad that
you exposed him. He's such a blown-up, self-absorbed individual. And he doesn't get his facts right too.

Anonymous said...

Andy was from yale,not Harvard.

Yes,Andy has some expertise in certain areas and I do enjoy some of his articles.

I cann't say so for that son of our ex-president,I read a few of his articles before,and then I gave up,it has been years.and I never have the urge to read his stufff again.no matter what is the subject

Anonymous said...

Andy ho just wrote some crap about youtube too. like he really knows anything. sigh. with crappy journalists like these- no wonder MiCA doesnt want journalists giving opinions haha.

Anonymous said...

"Some ask if bloggers are journalists at all or merely self-indulgent, opinionated folks expressing their views."

HA HA ....

I think the irony of it all is that Andy, a journalist DOES NOT KNOW the meaning of the word "Journalist"!!

My, what an intelligent ST Journalist!! That is the so-called high quality of Singapore product??

"Journalist" has the following meanings:
1) a writer for newspapers and magazines
2)someone who keeps a diary or journal

Under the 1st meaning, Obviously Journalists - someone who writes for newspapers can't be Bloggers - hello!! do you know the difference between newspapers and internet??

And if we take the 2nd meaning, obviously someone who writes a journal or diary should be able to write anything freely whether it is "self-indulgent" and "opinionated" or not, but definitely, should be "expressing their views" and recording such views!

Oh yes, I forgot, Singaporeans must not express any views, nor keep any journals whether in blog form or otherwise. Not to say the "approved" and "certified" ST Journalists - writers for newspapers who must not express any views.

Otherwise such persons shall be subjected to ST journalists criticism OR sacked like Mr Brown...

So ST Jounalist are a cut above the world and only recognised a Journalists if they work for ST??!!

Please...! Professionals by virtue of their special knowledge inevitably forms an elite class but I cannot imagine how a journalist could resort to taking the cheap opportunity of riding on bloggers to allevaite itself to attain an elitis status.

This is how narrow minded our "typical ST Journalist" can be and so, what kind of good quality media can we expect to obtain?

By the way I read Mr Wang's blog everyday and save my 80cents buying cat food for my cat instead of buying ST! haha...

So Andy, go on writing like a 'Journalist without opinions'! It is alright since all that is written is but printed in newspapers used for recycling, wrapping cat shit and sanitary pads, wiping windows,etc .. . a whole lot of domestic use and so can "'push broadcast' to millions" in this way!

Whereas, blogs which will last forever and ever in the most dignigied form even after your death, "can only 'pull narrowcast' mainly to the converted" but who are not cats, dogs, sanitary napkins .....

Anonymous said...

hermes: "I think Andy's piece is quite balanced"

Merely because he presents some of the opposing view does not make his position balanced. In much the same way, CNN (esp. circa 9-11) would report on Isreali-American aggression on the Arabian Gulf, but their angle was so deeply self-righteous that no one saw the better.

And no matter how well he walks a tightrope, he cannot argue neatly, and his ego (and perhaps a slight weight problem) hampers his ability to move any which way but straight and narrow, regardless of how much confetti he throws up in the air, or how many books he misreads. Logistically speaking, that is not a good route for a fat ego to take.

Anonymous said...

I think you poor benighted people are just plain jealous that Andy and Janadas have been given valuable print space (that cost a lot of money -- $35K per page, so go figure) whereas you sour grapes have to rely on free bandwith... bleehhh..

Anonymous said...

tsk tsk andy


Anonymous said...

"I think you poor benighted people are just plain jealous that Andy and Janadas have been given valuable print space... whereas you sour grapes have to rely on free bandwith... bleehhh.."

It seems your argument is as anonymous as your identity. Andy, is that you?

While you're here:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally "argument against the person") or attacking the messenger [or shooting the messenger], involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself. It is a logical fallacy.

Anonymous said...

M: the cat calling the kettle black. U not anonymous meh? Bleeaaah..

singaporean said...

Other than copy and pasting some latin and making personal attacks, this m. doesnt seem capable of anything adult-like. I am beginning to wonder if he is even 10 years old. Go back and hide under mommy's skirt!

Anonymous said...


Listen carefully, before wisdom whistles again past your beleaguered ears:

“you poor benighted people” = personal attack = ad hominiem

Argumentum ad hominiem is a basic logical fallacy. It is so basic, in fact, that ‘adults’ – not so dissimilar from yourself and ‘anonymous’ – should not be making them.

Technically, I did not really make a personal attack. I substantiated my criticism of ‘anonymous’ by identifying a formal fallacy of his. Technically, you are making a personal attack, because you substantiate your conclusion of “doesnt seem capable of anything adult-like” with the singularly dismissive “Other than copy and pasting some latin and making personal attacks”. You have, thus, not engaged in argument, but ignited a verbal brawl. And I am hardly a pushover in either.

My suggestion: practise your debating skills with your 5-year-old cousin before distributing anymore of that timeless wit of yours. “Go back and hide under mommy's skirt!” is especially affable. Cutting-edge. Truly.

anonymous: “M: the cat calling the kettle black. U not anonymous meh? Bleeaaah..”

I was targeting the anonymity of your argument, not the anonymity of your person. So your above statement is rather irrelevant. Read more carefully next time. I suggest those 10-year-series ‘O’ level English comprehension books. You can do them with your good pal ‘singaporean’. Good drilling for the both of you. From there, you might just be able to upgrade to reading Andy Ho columns, and then disappear in a tide of the anonymous singaporeans which choke up this little island.

Anonymous said...

"There is no top-down structure. So who weeds out inaccuracies, lies, spoofs or plain bad taste - and bad writing? Other blogs? If so, who determines the hierarchy of blog believability?"

Apparently, he has not used Wikipedia too. :)

Anonymous said...

To Uncle M who wrote: "I was targeting the anonymity of your argument, not the anonymity of your person. So your above statement is rather irrelevant."

Allo, uncle, u go senile or what? Look at what you wrote earlier: "It seems your argument is as anonymous as your identity."
If that isn't attacking moi poisonally, not jest my argument, then donch know what is.

Still, never mind uncle, better get angry all the time than be comatose in your 2nd childhood, ya?

And what better proxy for your anger (instead of raging against the dying light -- see if wickedpedia will give u the source)than the ST and its stellar writers, since u're no match to the Garment n Mica...

Bleaahh to u, uncle.. hav a great wkend

Anonymous said...


"Look at what you wrote earlier: "It seems your argument is as anonymous as your identity."
If that isn't attacking moi poisonally, not jest my argument, then donch know what is."

An ad hominem argument is one which uses insult as the primary foundation of the argument. But I was insulting you as an aside. There is a critical distinction there. When you figure it out, you break the 105 IQ barrier. That ranks you higher than Dubdue Bush. Congrats in advance.

Nevermind this. I forgive you, young insolent nephew. It is Dr Ho whom I'm after.

Stephen Yeo said...

it's not the first time that andy has gone ho ho ho instead of holding his tongue.

le radical galoisien said...

You can tell SPH's sense of language is utter crap, given its overuse of the passive voice, and of weasel words.

Sentences with things like "some say" or "it has been said/questioned" can put forth a statement like it's a general sentiment, without attribution that it's actually the author's point of view.

Some say the Straits Times should acquire a better grasp of the English language. It has also been suggested that some of the editors look at Orwell's Politics and the English Language regarding the use of language obfuscation in a political context.

Oh wai-

Anonymous said...

Prosper thy neighbour

Bloomberg reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has plans to compete with Singapore by making Johor a major growth engine for his country. This news originated from the New Straits Times. Calling it the Super-Corridor project (after its namesake Multi-media Super Corridor, a project begun and completed under his predecessor, Dr Mahathir Mohammad), the M'sia PM wants Johor to prosper as in its glory years through local equity and foreign investments. Why am I blogging this here, where it is all about Singapore life and times? Whatever happens in Johor will affect Singapore life. Even though the M'sia PM calls this competition for Singapore, it will instead prosper Singapore. Suddenly, a close neighbour (the only thing that separates these two lands is a bridge over a very narrow water straits) has virtually expanded Singapore's space in drawing tourist traffic to Singapore without Singapore having to lift a finger. Any development such as envisaged in Johor will drive tourist traffic to Singapore, either directly or through spillovers from Johor. So thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister.

This goes to show that there need not be bitter and acrimonious rivalry between Johor and Singapore. If at all, there can only be fierce but friendly competition which will benefit parties on both sides of the Causeway. This is so unlike the policies of Dr Mahathir, where it seems that he is hell-bent on bullying Singapore. In fact, Dr M seems to be in enmity with not only Singapore, but the US and Europe. He blames the conflict in the Middle East, currently raging between the Hizbollah and Israel, squarely on the US and Europe. Well, we have to ask - by Europe, does he also include Turkey? By US, does he also include the large numbers of Chinese and other migrants of non-European origin that have set up home in the US? Clearly, his view is simplistic and certainly not worthy of a person who has held high office in a major Southeast Asia nation in the recent past. I'd rather prefer Abdullah Badawi's approach to relations with Singapore. So it is not surprising that Dr M has provoked bad relations with Mr Abdullah B and his government.

I was right. I am still right. Dr M is a megalomaniac.

Anonymous said...

When PAP cannot control the internet, it will conduct a smear campaign to discredit internet.

In the end, Singaporeans might really believe anything on internet is rubbish.

It is their usual tactic. Will Singaporeans fall for it again?

I am afraid so.

Anonymous said...

To lau uncle M: since in yr 2nd childhood u're calling me names ad infinitum, pse xcuse me for returning the compliment. U're a real ding-a-ling if ever there's one, ta-soo. Wonder how u got thru the gates of IMH? wooo-hooo :)

Anonymous said...

Andy Ho claims in his article that bloggers merely, to use his phrase, "report on what reporters have reported". I suspect that phrase was meant to demean the contributions by bloggers.

Now has it occurred to him how much of ST news are based on agencies' (i.e. reuters, AFP, etc) reports. Strangely, the ST often relies on foreign agencies to provide feed for local news. So who is, in Andy's word, the "meta-reporter"?

Anonymous said...

and to add on .... is Andy also insulting STOMP for supporting a bunch of self indulgent and opinionated bloggers?

and indirectly insulting the government as well, for supporting and campaigning STOMP by putting up advertisements in the MRT stations?

oh..oh ... end up in the wrong direction in the process of sucking ass. :)

simplesandra said...

Journalists? I thought we only have self-indulgent, opinionated reporters here in Singapore? ;)

anonymous wrote: "Often is it said, many academic qualifications are sought by those as a substitute for true ability."

To reiterate what a "highly qualified" ex-colleague of mine said.

When asked if was she was really up to the task of being a network manager--she majored in business administration--she simply shrugged her shoulders and said she could always get the diploma holders under her to do the work for her.

I really hope this is an isolated case.