13 Dec 2006


One-party ideological dominance and the personalization of news in Singapore 21
Soek-Fang Sim

Political issues are typically covered by quality dailies as hard news; in the case of the Straits Times*a highly regarded English-language newspaper in Asia and the national daily in Singapore*hard political news acquires a human-interest feel despite journalists’ efforts to follow hard news conventions and to inject controversy into their coverage. While in liberal societies, this phenomenon has been attributed to commercialization, I argue that in Singapore, this human-interest element could be traced to the ideological dominance of the one-party government. In the absence of alternative frames, the official framing of national issues as questions of personal morality becomes the dominant ideological frame for journalists. There are two significant consequences of the shift from a political to a moral frame: the distinction between hard and soft news is blurred and media discourse becomes de-politicized.

KEYWORDS authoritarianism; ideology; news genre; Singapore; soft news

Introduction: Ideology and News Genre
Singapore is no ordinary authoritarian country. On the one hand, it is undeniably authoritarian, being listed among the company of Vietnam, China, North Korea and Myanmar as states that do not endorse the Union of Civil Liberty. On the other hand, it has been praised and upheld as a paragon by leaders of the free world. President Bush highlights Singapore as ‘‘an example for . . . the world of the transforming power of economic freedom and open markets,’’ while Prime Minister Blair considers Singapore the best illustration of the parallel achievements of economic success and social cohesion.

The descriptions heaped upon Singapore such as ‘‘popular dictatorship’’ and ‘‘soft authoritarianism’’ indicate that ‘‘although clearly authoritarian, Singapore is not a dictatorship but a hegemonic state, in the Gramscian sense . . . it is based not simply on coercion, but also consensus’’ (Castells, 1988, p. 78). Singapore has also been called ‘‘a classic case’’ of hegemonic authoritarianism, where a relatively institutionalized ruling party monopolizes the political arena (Diamond, 2002, p. 25).

How is this monopolization of the political or ideological arena achieved and how does it impact journalism? An analysis of the Straits Times’ news coverage would throw considerable light on these questions. As a quality daily where journalists claim and do comply with professional standards of journalism (such as following a hard news format and injecting controversy into news coverage), the resultant human-interest feel of political news points to the influence of one-party ideological dominance on journalism. It is my argument that in the absence of competing frames, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP)representation of national issues as questions of personal morality (e.g., what Singaporeans, not the government, ought to do) monopolizes the ideological arena and exerts visible influence on media discourse and news genre: (1) news genres are blurred as hard news becomes dominated by the (human-interest) focus on personal morality; and (2) media discourse is de politicized by the focus on moral (rather than political) controversy.

To delineate the impact of hegemonic authoritarianism on news, I outline the contemporary debate around news and democracy, then I describe and explain the shape of news in Singapore. [To continue readng...]


cheapskate said...

hi, is there anyway to access the full article without having to pay for it?

Matilah_Singapura said...

Probably, but could be easier to get off the drugs, get a job, earn some money. ;)

However, I don't think the article is worth paying for — given the quality of the sample.

It is interesting to note the opinions of Singapore from Bush and Blair.

According to the article:

The Neo-Connie George Dubya likes the free market bits of Singapore.

The Neo-Commie Tony Blair digs the "social cohesion" (institutionalised collectivism).

It wouldn't surprise me if both these power-lusting (Dick)Heads Of State, statist to their cores and adept at the ancient art of lying — a required skill-set for career politicians — get massive cock-stands when they see the concentration of power in S'pore.

I suspect it isn't S'pore per se that they are admiring, but the methods used of Lee & Co to maintain power for 4 deacdes, as well as the states successful foray into global commercial enterprises — reminiscent of the heady days of merchantilism where the colonial imperialist "private" companies like the East India Companies practically conquered the world.

What the fuck are the authors of this article talking about anyway? The Big Media have always been SLUTS of The State. The US and its allies went to war because it was aided and abetted by the MEDIA. It was The Media that help spread the LIE of searching and destroying WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION — the reason for going to war.

Now the damage has been done: people are dead, more are being killed everyday, debt is mounting, freedoms of ordinary folk are lost (probably forever), the media and their bum-buddies the military industrial complex are making oodles of money, governments all over have GROWN and become more invasive - with dumb laws like the ones which prevent you from bring fucking nail-clippers on aircraft... and countless other really bad side-effects of massive, intrusive, arbitrary state power.

Yes, the media are the lap dogs of every statist in the world — that's the way it is, that's the way it'll always be.

There are exceptions, thank Zeus that individuals are unique. Notable exceptions to me are John Stossel and Matt Drudge.

For better insight into how the media aids the state into bamboozling the citizens, I suggest a look at Manufactured Consent by Noam Chomsky.

However, at then end of the day, allof this is other people's opinion (including mine here).

Freedom has always been a personal thing. Make up your own mind.

Anonymous said...

The state gives us alot of freedom. Like we can go to the movies without asking for permission, or we can job around the park. I dont get it...what is freedom? We can talk freely right? It is not true about the media. The media is important because it give us news about how people are suffering here and there and we know about them from the media. It is not true that the media is setup to report what they are told to report. Maybe it is true for some cases, but it is not right to talk about the media this way. If we have no media, what do we read and write on?
Laws are important because they keep the people who have a mind on their own to ruin other people's life safely away. I dont mind letting them keep the water and nail clipper if these laws make people feel safer and actually make them safer on the plane. I dont need like perfect freedom. So that life is better for everyone like that right?

wah people here read chomsky. Hard to believe someone who dismissed someone article like that read something so deep. But again hard to believe. With reasoning like that, how to understand something so deep like chomsky. Maybe it is another chomsky or pick the wrong book and call it chomsky. But I heard he is not writing deep stuff these days. Someone must have got lucky to understand deep things.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> The state gives us alot of freedom.

No, it doesn't, and it is not supposed to. The state takes AWAY freedom. A constitution/bill of rights is are legal structures to PREVENT the state from taking away freedom. It decribes what freedoms a state can take away (the "freedom" to steal, kill, injure or defraud — which is good) and what freedoms a state MUST leave alone — freedom of assembly, freedom of speech etc.

You may be able to "go to the movies" or "walk in the park", but there are certain movies you can't see because they are banned, and you may walk in the park, but you may not walk in the park with your friends for "democratic" purposes.

> Maybe it is true for some cases, but it is not right to talk about the media this way. <

Damn, you're a convoluted cunt when you reason. a product of the MOE (state) education system no doubt ;-) So what is the "right" way, pray tell?

> dont mind letting them keep the water and nail clipper if these laws make people feel safer and actually make them safer on the plane. <

What shit. Up until recently you could carry a pocket knife on board — for decades actually.

> I dont need like perfect freedom.

No such thing exists, neither is that possible.

> Hard to believe someone who dismissed someone article like that read something so deep.<

Egads! A personal insult, I take it directed at moi.

Try harder, asswipe. If you're gonna give me a bloody nose, swing harder dude! Or perhaps it is your slave-state education really showing you up :)

Anonymous said...

hi cheapskate, if you have a friend at University they might give you access via an athens key and login.

Anonymous said...

No, we are not slaves. Slaves got owners right? If no owners, where got slaves?

No again. Insult is scorn and disrespect. I only tell you my reasoning.

Wah, you say no perfect freedom exists but then you talk about freedom like you know that perfect freedom exists. How come?

Why you want to carry knife up on plane? They dont cut fruit up there for you meh? Or you want to act hero-terrorist? The rules are to keep everyone safe right? If everyone is safe then everything is good.

aiya, there are many purposes why keep talking about democractic in life. I go to park to kiss girlfriend, to cycle and then talk to old people. No what, I talk to old people call illegal gathering meh? No police come to listen to what I have to say leh? Ah, maybe you like to use swear words so police come to listen to you talk cock.

I never know state can take away freedom like that. If like that, then anything can take your freedom right? You buy a car, then you have to wash the car and the places you can go by bus you say, no I want to drive my car. Your car only drive on road unless SUV lah. Your car must go to road tax department and your car has to buy gas. All not free wat! You buy TV same. Ipod same. Even marry also have to see in-laws. If you say things can take freedom, everything can take freedom leh. No sense.

wah, call people cunt. Ganina. You say freedom all the time. But you are so rude how to be V. People V read lots of books, have ink water but you only talk cock and cunt. Are you in pornography? People doing this type of job like to talk freedom and cock and cunt at the same time. Must be.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Are you in pornography?

Definately. See my profile ;)

It's legal too, where I am.

Anonymous said...

Freedom comes in degrees, in every area. Singapore has very little private and political freedoms. People can't go on the street and protest, there is no diversity in the press, and people who voice their opinion get reprimanded (see Catherine Lim) or even jailed (Dr.Chee Soon Juan). In Singapore, there are even rules for the privacy of your bedroom! Singaporeans are free, however, to emigrate, if you choose, and many do.

Without freedom, Singapore will remain "the land of the restricted and the home of the scared!"

cheapskate said...

hi anon (the one who replied constructively), thanks for the suggestion. im actually from NUS - any idea if fellow students hav tt athen key u're talking abt? cos i never heard abt it before...

Anonymous said...

If you are an NUS student you should have acess to online journals via the online library system. Search for the article there after you have logged in.

In the Uk the same login and password operates as an athens login giving you access to journals elsewhere.