Monday, March 06, 2006

Local Press Reporting

For the past few days, Straits Times has been going around asking for comments on the Electoral Boundaries Report. I obliged and talked to one of the Straits Times reporters on Friday night.

My comments were reported the next day. I wasn’t very happy about the incomplete quotations from my reply but just shake my head and carry on with my life. When one does not have any expectation of the local reporters, one wouldn’t have much disappointment at all.

However, people around me started to call me up and "complain". First, I have used the phrase "George Yeo is a respectable opponent and as a senior minister, it would look very bad for him if the whole Aljunied GRC disappears. It will make PAP looks very kiasu…." Well, the reported version doesn’t look good but never mind about that.

The more disturbing comment from my friends was that the ST reporter or editor doesn’t respect me at all. For all other alternative parties’ council members, they were reported with their designations clearly stated beside their name. But why would I only be a "WP member" only when I am not merely a CEC member but also the assistant organizing secretary of Workers’ Party?

In actual fact, this is not the only time when the ST show disrespect of Workers’ Party members. Back in 2001, though Dr. Poh Lee Guan has a phd, they only put up "Poh Lee Guan" (didn’t even have a Mr.!) while his opponent was fully named as "Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee"!

For me, personally I don’t even care about such lopsided treatment though I have noticed for the past few reports, ST has been deliberately "discriminated" me in their reporting. The last report in ST on the Singapore Political Forum held in NUS, also did the same thing, using "WP member Goh Meng Seng". I just laugh at such reporting.

But my wife, as an ex-producer in TCS (the pre-Media Corp era), told me that it is totally unprofessional for journalist or editor to do such things. I must exert myself on these reporters and editors to get my point through, for the good of my party. They could do such thing to me, they could also do the same to my other comrades.

Thus when the same reporter called me up on Saturday, I reminded him about my designation. He claims that such title is a bit "long" but the point is, when ST could assign similarly long designation on other alternative parties’ members or even PAP members why should he discriminate me or my other comrades? I dare them to address SM Goh Chok Tong as "PAP member Goh Chok Tong"!

When I met the same reporter on Sunday in East Coast GRC, I just reminded him that if he and his editor do the same thing again, he should be prepared for a boycott or total ignore on ST reporters during the elections. Well at least for today’s ST report on our activity in East Coast GRC, Mr. Chia Tilik was fully mentioned as assistant organizing secretary of WP, not just "WP member".

I would say that reporters are just human beings. They need to get a good story, good comments and quotes to write on. They earn a living by doing so and we fully understand that they are just doing their job. But when the reporters or editors become totally unreasonable, like the January report in New Paper on our manifesto launch, we will have no choice but to ignore them in future, at least in the coming general elections. I would make sure that New Paper will not get any news or extraordinary coverage on WP in the coming elections after the episode on our manifesto launch. They have practically destroyed the basic trust built up between us.

My point is that reporters and editors must also understand we are also just human beings. If they want to play punk or use unfair tactics against us, then they deserve the general perception that alternative parties’ sympathizers and supporters cast upon them. They will lose whatever little credibility they have tried so hard to rebuild in recent months or years. And we will definitely deprive them their daily breads, news. With the advancement of technology, the availability of alternative media like internet, forums and blogs, we will have other ways to get our messages across to the voters.

Some reporters have lamented that SDP seems to shut them off totally. I told them it is pure karma; imagine if they were in SDP and experienced the type of media reporting done on them during 2001, would they do the same, shun the local media?

Thus my advice to reporters and journalists of local media, don’t try to play punk with totally slanted reporting on alternative parties. Karma will bounce back on you. We do not expect you to be "PRO" non-PAP parties, but at least report fairly. Else you will risk suffering like New Paper or the response from SDP.

Goh Meng Seng

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

orrrrrrh people r v concerned abt titles icic tht former SBC guy also did nt refer LKY as MM what (only once he did) what hv u got 2 say?

Anonymous said...

finding bones in eggs got nothing beter else to do

Anonymous said...

boycott lor u dont want their coverage meh

Anonymous said...

btw snr minister goh can be shortened to SM Goh urs can so is minister mentor shortened to MM urs leh ?

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi all,

First of all, one must discern between normal Sammyboy forumites and serious journalists or reporters. It would be very insulting to compare a professional journalists with Sammyboy forumites, isn't it?

Secondly, I do not intend to reply the comment on what happened 40 or 50 years ago! Well, people always say, in the past, police wear short trousers! Time has changed, have you?

Thirdly, with due respect, ST also use SM Goh, so what's the problem? When SM is commonly known as Senior Minister, I do not think there is any problem. It is substance over form.

I am a reasonable man. If you really want me to pick the bones, there are just too many bones around to pick on local reporters and journalists. But heck, this is Singapore!

I would say that if a profession like journalism wants to gain respect from others, especially from citizens and international community at large, it must work according to its professional standards.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

How come you so familiar with Sammyboy forumites? U visit Sammyboy regularly isit?

Anonymous said...

I understand your point. But I also understand why are there people saying that you sound like finding bones in eggs.

I feel that your comparison with SM Goh is a bad choice. He is, after all our ex-PM and also a MP for marine parade. Do you think anyone would refer him as PAP member?

Think about this. Has the newspaper ever address Mr Low Thia Khiang as a WP member instead of MP for Hougang SMC? Or Mr Chiam See Tong as a SDA member instead of MP for Potong Pasir?

Perhaps you should compare yourself with people like Mr Seetoh Yi Ping or Mr Eric Low who are not MP. How did the newspaper address them? Did they address them as PAP member or by some other designation?

Perhaps if you compare yourself with someone of your level, you could gain more support in your article.

Anonymous said...

Oooo last anonmynous points...how asian is that huh. On the surface it sounds very factual and correct, on a second reading it actually reads more condescending then not.

And let everyone wait till the elections proper, whether the newspapers will address the current PM as PAP member Mr Lee Hsien Long, or as PM Lee.

Goh Meng Seng said...

I don't know why so many anonymous people posting here but here's my take:

Mentioning SM Goh is just an extreme example. Having said that, look at how report Ng Heng Eng as "Organizing Secretary" of Special Duties (Hope I get it right). And Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua as Chairman Women's Wing....Well, Tilik is the Vice President of our Youth Wing!

These are prime examples.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Well, I interned at ST a few years ago, and I know that the omission of titles are usually reserved for convicts and the convicted. Even suspects of a crime has titles until they are convicted, you get your titles back too when you're released from jail. But probably most people have no idea that, in the local media, members of the opposition parties, dissidents, and even bond-breakers, don't usually get that kind of privilege. I think that's something one can expect from our government-controlled media. Not to mention that the head of MICA is also the government and party whip.

Anonymous said...

I'm not disagreeing with your points. In fact, I agree with what you are saying. But what I'm trying to say is, you shouldn't be taking SM Goh as example.

Mr Seetoh Yi and Mr Eric Low are both considered the same level as you. Sometimes, I do see unfair treatment from the media where they get more attentions than opp party members. Wouldn't it be nicer if your article target them?

Nobody likes it when you are comparing yourself with someone who has contributed so much to Singapore. Nobody likes extreme comparsion. It only make you sound very petty.

But more people will stand by your side if you were to compare with someone of the same level as you and able to produce proof that there is indeed unfair treatment.

The 11:39AM Anonymous.

d said...

im sorry, but frankly speaking, i don't think your "boycott" of journalists is going to be in your favour at all, esp in the upcoming ge. newspapers can think of ways to dredge up a lot of dirt on you because of your silence, by depicting you as aloof, unfriendly. the seemingly harmless line "wp did not want to comment" can be quite dangerous. by retaliating, you may only be shooting yourself in the foot.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Hi D,

If this happen back in the 1980s or earlier, maybe you got the point. But the fact is the influence of alternative media such as internet is growing. There will always be ways to fight the battle.

Besides, I think in the past, opposition won seats depending not on local media's reporting. In fact, it was the "lack" of media reports that make up the "surprise win" by Mr. Low TK.

The so call boycott, is selective. If all news is bad news on WP, then we would prefer no news on WP as good news. Bad publicity is worse than no publicity, as the case that New Paper has put up on our manifesto launch. Nothing would be lost even New Paper isn't invited to the press conference.

As for anonymous comment, I think you miss the point. It is not about "comparison" as perse. It is about journalism as a profession. You don't just omit important title like Dr. or in the political context, the political appointment of the interviewee or the National appointment like Minister or Prime Minister.

Personally, I don't really care but since people around me show concerns about such unprofessional way that local media is going about their reporting, as an individual whom is involved in the process, I will need to make the point clear.

The title thing is just a small matter but it reveals something bigger about the mindsets and professionalism of local media workers.

Goh Meng Seng

Slow said...

The person who suffered after the 2001 affair was Chee, not the press. True the reporting was slanted but his reaction lost him supporters which seems to have made him even more hostile which lost him more supporters and so on in a vicious cycle.

While his current behaviour can be justified by the lawsuit, it is not helping his image or his party one bit. He should restrict his anger to the press and the ruling party and not lash out at others. Being in politics does mean managing a professional image no matter what others throw at you. That is where Chee fails utterly.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Slow,

Generally, I agree with you but I use the example of SDP to illustrate the relationship between the press and political parties.

The point is that reporters cannot blame SDP for shutting them out because there is a history behind this. This is karma. This does not mean that SDP is "right" but that's the way relationship works.

Goh Meng Seng

Soulgroove said...

Dear Mr Goh,

I don't think you should even try boycotting any media, including the TNP.

Think about it this way as in that would give them even more ammunition to write whatever funny things they want to write. Your silence is up to their interpretation which might be... not healthy?

And as you said, there is the rise of "alternative" form of media such as the internet, but how effective are they in reaching out to the general population?

If you look at the demographics of blog readers and political article readers, I would dare say that they're mostly in their twenties and thirties, mainly males.

How are you going to reach out to the rest then? As the other commenters have said, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.

Anyway, I would like to suggest that members of opposition parties keep their "cool" and not get "acted up" over issues in the coming election.

It may well be very true that the opposition faces many arduous obstacles in the coming election, and people even sympathise with the opposition on various issues, but I think the way you all should try to face it, is to approach matters in a "cool" and rational approach, rather than the "fiery" and "passionate" manner, no matter how much the matter is against you.

"Flaring up" would only create a bad image of the opposition. I believe.

Notice how the PAP people in the media are always very "cool" and smile and carry babies?

A classic example is the fiery CSJ screaming at the top of his voice at the back of a pickup truck and the SM Goh smiling and waving him away in the last elections.

So, Mr Goh, I hope you keep your cool and I look forward to seeing you contest in the coming elections.

Anonymous said...

Though it's a pity that we can't make the local media treat all political parties in a fair manner, at least we should remain hopeful that Singaporeans can vote wisely regardless of what title the candidate holds.

Regarding the boycott against certain media, it can be quite an effective "reminder". While the local media is still obsessed with the dream that opposition parties can't live w/o their coverage, your suggestion can be a timely wake-up call urging them to respect and give fair treatment to all involved in the upcoming GE.

How ST "remedied" the title thing in their recent report has proved your idea works.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much we expect from opposition candidates to be while we dun have the same expectations for PAP backbenchers candidate.

It is totally hypocritical of Singaporeans.

Do we ever hear a squeak from the 40+ PAP backbenchers between elections? Some of them haven't even been through any hustings and won their seats immediately by walkover. Are these people better than Mr. Goh here?

How many PAP MPs in Singapore bother to have blogs and talk with Singaporeans?

Is it easier for PAP candidates to have positive stuff in the newspaper or opposition?

Mr. Goh is human and entitled to his views. I feel that he may not be as good as Top PAP stalwarts BUT definetly better than most of the PAP backbenchers who do not speak up in Parliament. PAP MPs earn 13000 per month and do not speak up..You pay YOUR taxes to such people.

Guys, PAP candidates dun even have to work in the grassroots to be elected and be ministers. look at the opposition. They have to try doubly hard and recieve such harsh criticism. Do you see backbenchers PAP members having such stuff?

ted said...

Oh dear, Soulgroove, I suggest you complete your studies first before trying your luck with the youngPAP ok?

Snow said...

The Opposition needs to get its vision and mission strongly across. The first objective of the Opposition should be to convince the masses that it is extremely important that they have sufficient seats so that for decades ahead, the rights and welfare of the masses can be protected and debated instead of being succumbed to a dictatorship. It is easy to become a dictator when most of the people seated are on your side. Learn from Julius Caesar....

Soulgroove said...

Dear ted, I suggest you wipe your foul mouth and dig out all the shit first while at the same time prevent yourself from regurgitating even more shit.

ted said...

Wow Soulgroove, you are getting vulgur. Please try to refrain from doing so, this is extremely unpleasant. AT least try learn how to retort without resorting to vulgurities, not nice for our kind host yeah?

Anonymous said...

I truly hope for an alternate government in Singapore. Its sad when opposition cannot get fair coverage of the mass media.

I wish you and your team all the best for coming election and do know that a lot of Singaopeans appreciate your efforts.

Anonymous said...

You must continue to get newsworthy article to the press. They look at interesting life angle and unusual angle such as: "Man bite dog" rather than commonplace happening as "Dog bite man"

Kelong said...

I hope Mr Goh update your blog more often. The more I read about the court cases regarding PAP members the more I feel the Justice system is manupulated by PAP. I used to think PAP is a good govt in my childhood, but now become anti-PAP.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Kelong,

As elections is creeping nearer, there are quite alot of preparation work to do, thus my posting here will be less frequent.

You have a strong sense of social justice which is good, but sometimes, for us, we need to thread very carefully in this minefield.

Goh Meng Seng

Kelong said...

Dear Mr Goh,
I am looking forward to hear about what Workers' Party have to present in the election rally and look forward to attend. Can you please write details about the place, time and day which you will hold rally once it is confirmed?
I think the opposition got grow in strength and there looks to have much more Workers' Party candidates (at least 21) than the 2001 elections where you only got 2 or 3 candidates. I hope for several oppositions to be elected this election to keep the government in check as they are getting too complacent and arrogant. I think they did misinformed (or NKFED) us about the HDB flat costs and updating costs. Hope the opposition will grill the PAP ministers in charge to make them more transperent about the costs and not behave like NKF. I think we do need oppositions to make the government more transperent. Too long in charge, there may be some NKFs going to happen.

UnMeBlog said...

For those who read the papers, watch the news about politics and the upcoming elections. Here is what I have to say.

For readers/viewers:
"NEVER BELEIVE WHAT IS PUBLISHED" as the reporters "WILL NOT REPORT WHAT THEY BELIEVE".

Go to the opposition parties rallies and hear first hand what they have to say. I konw because I have attended many.

Don't waste your time going to the PAP's rally, it will be all over the press.

To GMS, I have a suggestion that transcripts are posted in your WP's website since it is against the law for political blogging during the GE.

Anonymous said...

Forget the mainstream media. you've got to learn from these examples: -

1. How the communist over throw the KMT in china. How they communicate and rally their people.

2. Learn how Chen Shui Bian come to power. (definitely not thru' orthodox means)

3. Read Sun Tzu art of war. Look for previous case study and implement.

Create an alternative media or grassroot that reaches the masses. If for certain things that can never get a permit to do, surely by word of mouth, people go knocking on doors to communicate the key points across.

Alternative media must contain main stream news as well. The mix should be around 90-10 (90% other news and 10% political views), this way, you will get your message across.

WP is on the right track. Similarity with 3 kingdoms (SHU3 GUO2 Shu kingdom)
--- Never engage the enemy with inferior force. (hide and snipe and wear them down)
--- When a superior enemy attacks, disperse (but stay in contact) and re-group.
--- Deception (Appear strong when you are weak and appear weak when you are in fact the strongest)
--- Counter-intelligence (perhaps the media can play a part in this)
-----> use them to convey something you want the PAP to hear. Lure them into an AMBUSH.
--- Always win thru' AMBUSH. Lure the enemy with small gains and trap them. When they are trapped, finish them off.
--- Lead the team into extreme danger. When they are in extreme danger, they have no choice but to fight bravely.

I still feel you'll need some foreign help in the form of marketeers and poolsters, etc. Also, there are also a group of voters who are P.R. who have become Singaporeans. They tend to vote the ruling party.

Anonymous said...

CNA is the worst lot of them all. The type of coverage is the most skewed amongst them all. Worst, it is television which has great impact when it come to swing of opinions.

" The news and truth are not the same thing. "

Walter Lippmann

Boycott them all? Perhaps it will work. Give them no news to report on.