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Mass Media In Singapore

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It goes without saying that the topic of implications regarding traditional print and electronic news media are one of the most important issues facing us today. However, there is a future in journalism, especially in Singapore. According to the Nielsen survey in 2015, 9 in 10 Singaporeans still read print newspapers and watch TV broadcasts. Also, Singaporeans are active social media users. Traditional media may have competition, but they are still preferred due to dependability. Social media platforms are used to promote smart marketing initiatives, and allows consumers to choose what they read online. However, this leads to higher chances of fake news, causing factual articles to be boring. Singapore also ranks low on the freedom of expression, which sparks criticisms for citizens’ rights and the protection of Singapore’s society. This essay aims to consider all relevant information and determine where responsibility lies for Singapore’s implications on traditional media and the consequences thereafter.

In this day and age, it is certain that there is a rise in Asian Media. The Internet World Statistics by Miniwatts Marketing Group describes that Asia has the highest Internet Users in the World. Asia has a 44.2% Internet penetration rate which is still below the world average of 49.3%. (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2016) They argue that it will be challenging, but Asia is catching up fairly quickly. Their conclusion is that Asia is leading global growth, making Singapore one of the countries that have plenty of Internet Users. On top of that, the report ‘Digital in 2017’, a joint effort by Hootsuite, a platform to manage social media, and We Are Social, a social media agency, has compiled data from studies conducted by organisations such as GlobalWebIndex, GSMA Intelligence, Statista and Akamai.

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According to the article, 70 per cent of Singaporeans are active social media users, and more than 3 in 4 Singaporeans use social media. Internet penetration increased by 10 per cent in 2016 and hit 3.773 billion, 50 per cent of the world’s population. In agreement to this, social media users reached 2.8 billion users, increasing by 30 per cent, to 91 per cent of social media users accessing media from mobile devices. Simon Kemp of We Are Social describes that “The increase in internet users in developing economies is particularly encouraging’ and that ‘It’s probably time for us to stop referring to social as ‘new media’, and integrate it more seamlessly into our day-to-day activities.” (Tan, 2017) The digital age is in the near future for the journalism in Singapore, and will bring drastic changes to news media.

On the topic of having information at the tip of our fingers, it brings me to my next point on how the Ministry of Finance (MOF) in Singapore has been paying for over 50 social media ‘influencers’ to promote the Budget process on Instagram. Almost 30 posts by these social media users have been showing up since December 2017, teaching consumers how to visit the Budget website and give feedback with the government unit Reach on the website. These ‘influencers’ have a range of 1,300 to 35,000 followers on Instagram, and posted photos of themselves at the listening booths while others post photos with captions of how the Budget relates to them. MOF worked with a company named StarNgage.

The chief community office Terrence Ngu said that the Ministry Of Finance got in touch with him in November 2017 to discuss an online media campaign for Budget 2018. StarNgage works with influencers with a minimum of 1,000 followers, and Mr Ngu mentioned they are measured by their follower count, likes and comments on their posts. Ms Chelsea Teng with 5,700 followers finds it interesting to read and learn from others’ feedback and how they plan for their future needs. Mr Royce Lee with 10,300 followers mentioned that some of his friends gave feedback, but that most of his followers at least read his caption on Instagram. (Seow, 2018) Making use of savvy Singaporeans to generate awareness is a great way to engage the younger generation, and it also encourages them to search for important information.

Besides Instagram, politicians and journalists also make use of Twitter to meet the norm of this new generation. ‘Social media logic meets professional norms’ by Gunn Eunli and Chris-Adrian Simonsen explains that journalists use hashtags to search for popular topics and preserving documentation. Also, joining in the hashtag conversations enables a connection between organiser and commentator, which is a great opportunity for communication for politicians. On top of that, hashtags allows fresh insight on ‘news stories, political issues, crises and emergencies’, and can shape how supporters see journalists and politicians. Journalists mostly joined the movement to promote their original content, and politicians for their personal branding purposes. (Simonsen, 2018) This process of innovation has provided many citizens to be adaptable, and equip themselves with awareness and expertise.

Relative to journalists using social media, there are opportunities to acclimatize to social media to conform towards long-established news and connect both new and traditional channels. According to Andrew Duffy and Megan Knight’s “Don’t be stupid’, this is a new era for journalists to question these norms and show examples to adjust professional practices to ever-changing operations of Twitter. Reporters are also encouraged to take neutral stands when it comes to politics so as to prevent putting themselves at risk, and to use their own social media accounts to share their work. The journal entry also mentions that the benefit of social media allows followers feel more connected to these social media accounts, and will encourage audience participation with a sense of vulnerability. (Knight, 2018) This connection between new and traditional media only brings forward the success of social media and how it is an extension of personal branding and engagement with the audience.

There is no doubt that new media will bring major changes to all of the world, but there are also consequences in relation to digital media. Seungahn Nah and Masahiro Yamamoto’s ‘Rethinking Digital Media and Citizenship’ argues carefully that with today’s new media age has the issue of inconsistency with news utilization. In the issue, they mentioned that there is a separation in news reading and sharing. Some factors that lead up to these problems are ‘political interest, an indicator of motivation, and education, and indicator of cognitive ability.’ This inconsistency decreases for those with lesser education, but increases for those with more political interest. (Yamamoto, 2018) This might influence civic participation in new media and causes the gap between traditional media to get bigger.

However, news stations cannot disregard the new equilibrium within the market. The rise of mobile phones and technology causes competition to the traditional news sector. In contrast, we have to use our own intellect and circumspection when reading articles, to distinguish between what is accurate and dishonest. Traditional media content still is the best origin of dependable facts. Social media and new technology cannot challenge the pertinence of traditional media. Claire Huang, in her article ‘Traditional media still the choice of readers for news’, says that media consumption figures from Nielsen’s 2015 report stated that more than 9 in 10 Singaporeans read print newspapers and watch TV broadcasts every week. The author argues that 64.7% of Singaporeans use digital platforms to access news. Claire’s sub-claim is that those who read either hardcopy or digital newspapers come up to 6 in 10. Rebecca Tan, the managing director of media client leadership at Nielsen, argues that media providers provide multi-channel experiences to cater to increasing demands. (Huang, 2015) Clearly, this shows that Singaporeans still read traditional newspapers and traditional media is not dying out as fast as companies claim it to be.

To top it off, there are also challenges facing newspapers. Since the rise of the internet and social media, newspaper sales have dropped all around the world. News organisations use social media to determine what counts as news. Clients are unwilling to give payment to news and consumers get to choose what they want to read online. A customer can stay online for minutes and get access to immeasurable documentation. News establishments need to get the attention of younger audiences with the danger that stories are often not authenticated. Nevertheless, news often emerge first on social media, and it will be up to the digital age to control useful news on the web. (Price, 2015) It is not easy to maintain all these stories online, and soon there will be difficulty differentiating between real and fake news with the accessible and always improving technology of this generation.

A corresponding theory brings the risks of fake news. This leads to social disorder and anarchy and news companies must plough money into legitimate news with factual backing. Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Mr Chee Hong Tat explains respectfully that digital media present us with a monumental universe of ideas and gifts and it becomes difficult to manage news internationally and sustain spectators. The accessibility to social media makes social engagement to customers a prime concern, it allows dishonest news to be published with eye-catching captions. Fake news can also come in the form of videos, which makes all these headlines convincing and cause mistrust within the media in other countries and government. On top of that, all these exaggerated titles construct point of views that authentic news coverage to be dull and uneventful.

Mr Chee Hong Tat, in his speech, mentions that the Ministry of Law in Singapore is passing a new regulation. Citizens have to give trusted news sources the support so that Singaporeans can believe these sources for trustworthy news. Professional news outlets must concentrate on the quality of articles, dedicate to legitimate and honest news, and take neutral stands for the news reporters to serve all Singaporeans. More than 8 in 10 Singaporeans still turn to Mediacorp and maintain public trust on local free-to-air television channels. There is a decrease in the Singaporean citizens who read newspapers and watch TV, but a rise in Singaporeans who get information online. In order to stay trendy, news organisations must work on building networks and partnerships and between similar news organisations. (TODAY Singapore, 2017) In agreement to Mr Chee, if Singaporean news organisations work together, we can solve all challenges and bring on a future for journalism.

To sum up, the growth of new media has changed the way news is produced and traditional media is indeed facing some challenges. Social media, mobile phones and the Internet have increasingly become the default news channel for many urban Asians. All things considered, social media determines what counts as news and consumers take advantage of that. This leads to a rise in fake news, sometimes in forms of videos. But, newspapers are still the choice for readers as they are considered true and dependable. Taking everything into consideration, social media platforms have been used to promote great initiatives with plenty of active social media users. Weighing up both sides of the argument, the advantages of new media and the Internet outweigh the disadvantages of traditional news media.

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