20 Feb 2007

Journalism in Singapore

From Holland Village Voice

Losing Faith of the Printed Word

I just spent the past hour and a half watching a BBC documentary on Tehran, and somehow what struck me was the spirit of journalism, both of the BBC journalist and the journalists in Tehran. If Prof. Mahbubani said journalists have a tough job in Singapore, I suppose he was not speaking in relative terms to Iran. Yet the Iranian journalists seem to display tenacity and passion I don't sense from reading the Straits Times. But I'm making an unfair comparison because those Iranian journalists featured probably didn't work for the equivalent of the ST.

In the documentary Rageh Omaar said that despite being news-obsessed, Iranians were "losing faith of the printed word." They browse newspapers but don't buy them. They have the fourth largest blogging community in the world, and Iranians are increasingly turning to Satellite TV and the Internet.

Perhaps the reason why Holland Village Voice started out as a novel modeled after Kundera's is because I deeply feel and fear that media freedom in Singapore is an illusion. I felt compelled to speak in riddles, as Kundera did.

The documentary makes me feel we don't stand very far from where Iran is in terms of media freedom. We have to paraphrase issues in euphemistic ways, and that is if we're allowed to talk openly about them. Bloggers are ok, so long as they do not attract too much attention. An Iranian film had to be censored extensively before it could be screened locally, but went on to win at International Film Festivals - sounds familiar to Singapore?

Journalists, documentary makers, filmmakers, visual artists have a central part in our world, because they communicate to us and remind us what we should be doing to progress our world.

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