The best part about TODAY is that it's distributed free, proof that printed media makes its profits from advertisements, and content is subsidiary justification for it's existence. Makes one wonder why Minister Shanmugam wasted his breath trying to convince the skeptical champions of liberal journalism that Singapore needs to be paranoid about its press control.
The optimists are taking to heart Goh Chok Tong's comments at the paper's 10th anniversary dinner when he said, "I support the newspaper’s aim to get its readers thinking about the issues of the day." Quoting from selective sources like public relations firm Edelman and Nielsen Media to support his argument that newspapers are Singaporeans' preferred source of news, he avers that these surveys "testify to the credibility of the Singapore media, and the trust and confidence they enjoy among Singaporeans". Such trust will be more convincing except for the front page banner that has National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan repeating ad nauseam, "Whichever objective we choose, it is clear that rather are enough HDB flats within reach of homebuyers." Whatever lesson Goh may have learnt from student Lim Zi Rui's sad tale of an engagement torpedoed by HDB prices, reported fully in TODAY only a few days ago, it must have been quickly dissipated like the morning mist. Credibility is supposed to be long lasting.
Didn't someone recently tell a US audience, "It (the media) should be a neutral medium for conveying news – with commentary clearly separate from news"? It must be wistful thinking to contemplate a Fourth Estate, when the publishing house counts among its chairmen – past and present – political appointees and office holders, and in the case of SPH, ex-intelligence services types like former ISD director Tjong Yik Min and curry-puff supplier Chua Lee Hoong. Which also explains why a post-retirement Permanent Secretary is given a new lease in the gravy train as chairman of MediaCorp. As the government appointee is neither businessman, entrepreneur nor media socialite, his predecessor Ho Kwon Ping must have felt insulted by the choice of a nobody who earned his brownie stripes doing procurement in Mindef. But ah, in the grand scheme of things, it makes perfect sense to plant a mole in the journalistic pool. The Minister said they are paranoid, remember?