In the wee hours of the morning, The Independent Singapore (TISG) posted the following article on its Facebook Page
The article implied that Dr Lee Wei Ling was a signatory to a petition which called upon her brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to end ‘gutter politics’ in the Bukit Batok By-Elections. The article, which was published between 3-4am, attracted thousands of likes, comments and shares. The only piece of evidence they had? A screengrab of someone signing off as ‘Dr Lee Wei Ling.’
In other words, on a platform like change.org where even I could sign off with a pseudonym like ‘Tom, Dick and Harry,’ all it took for TISG to conclude that Dr Lee Wei Ling had indeed supported the petition was the fact that someone signed off as ‘Lee Wei Ling’. This, arguably, reflects abysmal standards of proof at TISG.
The editors at TISG did not even exercise due diligence by taking steps to clarify with Dr Lee to ascertain if she was indeed the one who supported the petition. All they needed to do was send her a message.
The misleading article forced Dr Lee Wei Ling, who, until then did not utter a word on Dr Chee and the Bukit Batok By-Elections, to break her silence. In a Facebook post, she denied signing the petition and slammed Dr Chee, saying that “she would never support him.”
Her Facebook post attracted, at the time of this article’s publication, a much larger audience than the original TISG article did.
Going by TISG’s logic, or lack thereof, it is truly a wonder why they did not report that ‘PM Lee signs petition condemning himself.’
The publication, which claims to “brings in-depth perspective and analysis on current affairs, economics and politics in Singapore,” certainly appeared, in the eyes of many readers, shallow. By jumping the gun in a move to attract readers, they have done considerable damage to not only to TISG’s credibility but also to Dr Chee’s reputation and the momentum of his by-election campaign. The best part? The PAP and Mr Murali didn’t even have to lift a finger. TISG shot itself, and others, in the foot.
The media playing field is already stacked against sites like TOC and TISG. In seeking to balance the playing field, social media sites must be driven by values and not click-bait. It is truly disappointing to see a trend where an increasing number ‘news’ sites becoming more like replicas of Goodyfeed. First, it was TRS but it was closed due to its antics and I sincerely hope TISG saves itself from heading down that slippery slope.