~ By Unbranded BreadnButter ~

Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of SPH’s English and Malay Newspapers Division, has sent a letter to Mr Tan Ek Kia, the interim chief executive of rail operator SMRT, to apologise for a fake photograph that was published on SPH’s citizen journalism, STOMP. The citizen journalist, STOMPer “wasabi”, alleged that there was a serious safety breach when the train was moving with its door open for at least one stop when she was travelling from Lakeside to City Hall MRT station.

It has now been revealed that the photo was lifted off Twitter and “wasabi” was never on the train and the entire story was fabricated despite making its way to a SPH website, a company that prides itself for responsible reporting.

STOMPER “wasabi” is STOMP content producer!

What is more shocking is that “wasabi” is no citizen journalist but employed by STOMP as a content producer (more like content fabricator)! Now we really wonder how much of the content on STOMP is produced/fabricated by their own staff? Why doesn’t STOMP inform its readers that the contributor was a staff and tries to make it seem as if all their content are submitted by members of the public? And if they are employed by STOMP/SPH why are they not subjected to the rigours of fact-checking and journalistic ethics? This stinks of mis-representation.

It is apparent that STOMP would approve and publish just about any story that is sensational without any fact checking from its own content producers.

So would the public ever be aware if STOMP decides to slip in a fabricated story, stir it up online and it gets reported in mainstream newspapers as a legitimate story? They are after all owned by one company!

Such journalistic standards and practices are deplorable and can be easily abused. For the media to act as effective arm of civil society, the media giant that SPH is should be broken up as it controls a definite majority of the entire spectrum (offline and online) of news production in Singapore. Such monopolistic characteristics are prone to spectacular failures in addition to being poor in representing the diversity of society’s views. Besides STOMP, SPH also has a stake in popular online portals like Hardwarezone and Asiaone.

Liar, liar pants on fire

STOMPER “wasabi” aka Ms Samantha Francis, would join a long line of rouge journalists who fabricated stories to get ahead in the game. She is not the first and neither will she be the last. There should be mechanism to prevent and deter this in any respectable system. Currently a student at NTU, English Language and Literature, Samantha is due to graduate this year and I hope this would be a rude wake-up call to her as she joins the workforce.

It takes ten lies to cover-up the first lie. To perpetuate her lie that she was at Lakeside MRT station around 10:15pm on a Tuesday night, Samantha even had the cheek to turn up at the station with the SMRT staff to verify her story. She gave a description of what she wore and her ez-link card both of which drew a blank with SMRT CCTV and ez-link systems. OMG! How lame…

Obviously, she is not very apt at lying or she might be serial liar, albeit a very lousy one. STOMP should get better and smarter content fabricators if they want to stay ahead of the competition!

In this instance, fortunately, the story was verifiable as there were details, time, location and an organisation (i.e. SMRT) which had its own interests to make things right. Imagine if some “citizen journalist” was to submit some unverifiable story like two men fighting at somewhere in Toa Payoh and one spoke with a heavy India Indian accent, get their friends to punch it up while another filmed it.

Ironically, Samantha wrote an article titled “10 ways to become a public nuisance” back in Feb for local entertainment website Fever Avenue, never thinking that she would become the 11th.

This article first appeared on Unbranded BreadnButter's blog.