I've been in contact with someone from inside the media industry and I requested that he/she write a short piece for my blog to tell anyone who visits what it's like to be inside the organisation which has failed us in so many ways during this General Election, and before, and after. There have been many calls for journalists, reporters, cameramen etc. to step up and tell the world what really goes on there, but it's always easier to stand outside a glass house and throw rocks at it, rather than stand beneath its roof and do the same. I can't reveal the name of this person, nor any of his/her particulars, but nevertheless the truth of the message is far more important than the identity behind it. Suffice it to say that the person has had experience in the coverage of the general elections these past few weeks.
I had no illusions about the independence of the local media when I first started my job as a [------] in Singapore. I knew that my work would be edited, and possibly censored for political safety, and I was mostly fine with that - no media channel anywhere in the world is entirely free from some form of editorial trimming, after all.What I didn't bargain for was individual self-censorship, unspoken policies and rules, and the stoutness with which people swallowed their journalistic dignity and integrity (because it does exist, even strongly, in some places) to toe the party line. Incredible as it seems, reporters in Singapore do have the same fierce pride in their work as reporters anywhere else; I think this is especially evident in sections of the media that don't touch on politics.But when it comes to political news, particularly something as sensitive as the elections, many of us leave our brains and consciences at home and resign ourselves to doing what we're told and writing what's being dictated. To some extent I appreciate the rationale of this - there really is a very close watch being kept on the media and when we're kept in line it's largely for our own safety.However, as someone still young and naive and idealistic, it's hard for me to swallow the indignation I feel whenever I see the local media doggedly ignoring its otherwise sharply-honed news sense. Articles and TV programmes are edited to balance out pro-opposition views; awesome camera opportunities - like the opposition rallies - are studiously left out of media coverage; banal and unfair quotes and tactics are highlighted and headlined simply because they are tools of the ruling party.There are many things journalists see that the eyes of the public are not privy to, and that we would like to report on but can't. Please remember that when you read an article or watch a broadcast that seems particularly, emetically subjective. And help spread the word that a lot of us in the media are sorry that we can't do the job we want to. It may not mean a lot to you, but it sucks for us that for every day that we covered the elections, people's opinions of us plummeted - despite the fact that we worked our asses off in 14-hour days with no breaks on weekends or public holidays to bring you our version of the news.And for those who think it's as easy as quitting your jobs and following your conscience - grow up. This is a job. It puts food on our tables. We can all up and leave, but it's ridiculously easy to replace us with more party-line-spouting drones. With educated and politically aware journalists in the local media, at least civil society in Singapore stands a fighting chance. So despise and condemn us all you like, but whatever you believe in, it's highly likely we believe in it too. And it's also likely that we're doing something about it, in our own little ways, even if it's as small as writing about and expressing our dissatisfaction with the system from the inside.Don't give up on us. We haven't given up on our ideals.