It is most interesting that the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has organised an Innovation Day in a bid to reach more segments of the community. While I applaud its efforts to be more entrepreneurial and unique, it could perhaps do more to focus on being seen as an objective and reliable source of news and information in Singapore?

Rightly or wrongly, many Singaporeans view the mainstream media as biased in favour of the ruling People’s Action Party government. Some have even alleged that the mainstream media is a mouthpiece for the government who would only ever publish the government side of the story. In my opinion, this pro-government reputation that the mainstream media seems to have has pushed some potential readers away and into the arms of the alternative media. After all, if they do not feel that they can trust the mainstream media for the whole picture, they will naturally turn to other sources.

While innovation is always important, the most important role of a news outlet (which the SPH primarily is) is to provide accurate and up to date reporting of news. Why not invest in improving their reputation in this area before branching out into other entrepreneurial avenues? Surely if you get the basics right, the rest will naturally follow?

Asking for innovative ideas to reach the public seems like a diversion from the main point when they can easily and naturally reach more sectors of the public if they rebuild their reputation among those who may not trust it to provide an objective view?

Perhaps, the SPH can encourage its journalists to be more investigative and to take more initiative in reporting the news. There has certainly been talk that SPH employees are curtailed in reporting anything negative about the establishment. This reputation will definitely push certain sectors of the public away. Why not focus on regaining this market share as a start?

A news outlet doesn’t have to be unique. It has to be seen as an accurate and objective source of news first and foremost.

Editor’s note – A plug for WildRice’s play, “Press Gang” here, if you want to know what goes on behind the closed doors of the mainstream media and the thoughts behind self-censorship by journalists, “Press Gang” is a must-go performance to watch. To buy tickets, visit SISTIC’s website here.

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