Friday, April 2, 2010

Is the Straits Times above Astroturfing?

This is what is called astroturfing by the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times. The Straits Times in its editorial today was nauseatingly sycophantic in calling on the government to "turf out of consideration astroturfed views when determining policies".

But does the Straits Times genuinely believe that its propagandist organ is above astroturfing? The editorial described astroturfing as a manufactured product masquerading as the real thing: fake mail, phone call or digital campaigns orchestrated to appear like spontaneous "grassroots" responses. Is not the Straits Times answering to this description in its pro-government propaganda to the exclusion of constructive opposition and concerned critics' voices?

The Straits Times seems to be aping the Prime Minister in disparaging online criticisms of the government as fakes orchestrated to appear like spontaneous grassroots responses. Is not the echoing of his master's voice cringingly a form a astroturfing? Right-thinking Singaporeans have seen through the obsequiousness of the Straits Times. There are regular readers of the Straits Times who are digusted with its spineless character and give up reading the trash in the paper going instead to the internet for their local and international news.

It is precisely because of the dearth of genuine news about the political and financial mismanagements of the government which the mainstream media are covering up that there is a healthy growth of the new media to counter this journalistic abberation of the mainstream media. For example it was the new media which provided the news of the recent heavy financial loss of over US $1 billion by the Government Investment Corporation (GIC). True to their obsequious character, there was not a word in the mainstream media about this GIC financial disaster to the public. Although the public were apprised by the new media, there was very little they could do with no accountability by the "democratic" government. Would the Straits Times describe the dramatic disclosure by the new media of the financial loss of GIC as astroturfing?

Hovering over the mainstream media like a sword of Damocles is a body called the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It is hardly a benevolent organ but a tightly-organised body that supervises closely any piece of pro-government propaganda that goes out from the mainstream media. Woe betides any exuberant journalist who does not toe the line. The next thing he knows is that he will find his rice-bowl dancing (a Chinese slang for dismissal). To ensure absolute obedience to its draconian policy, the government has installed a former deputy prime minister, who is also the government spin doctor, at the head of SPH. So how can one expect anything but astroturfing from the mainstream media, especially the bombastic Straits Times.

4 comments:

Aurvandil said...

Not to fret too much about the recent non-issue about astroturfing. Having failed to tame the new media, no choice but to try and discredit it.

If you look at the traditional propaganda instruments, they have already lost the main arm of TV. This is not because of the Internet but because of the wonderful thing known as cable TV. With so many channels to watch tthese days, people simply channel surf to other channels when something “boring” like a Minister comes up.

The only thing which they can count on for propaganda these days are newspapers like the Straits Times. Even then, we can see can interesting trend

Daily ST average circulation:
1998 = 391,612 (population: 3,490,356)
2004 = 380,197
2005 = 386,167
2006 = 381,934
2007 = 377,974
2008 = 374,000
2009 = 373,958 (population: 4,987,600)

It can be seen that in spite of a huge surge in population, circulation has been dropping. The very stable decline in circulation strongly suggests that the ST is reaching out to the older households from the pre-computer era. In other words, the ST and other forms of traditional media are reaching out mainly to those born before 1965, the bastion of PAP’s power. Going by circulation, a possible hypothesis is that the ST is not reaching out well to those born after 1965 and who grew up with the benefit of the Internet.

For Election 2010, those proportion of those born before 1965 roughly equal to those born after 1965. The ST can therefore potentially exert a huge amount of propaganda influence. By the next election however, those born before 1965 will make up only 25% of the electorate while those born after 1965 will make up an overwhelming 75% of the electorate. If the hypothesis of the who the ST is reaching is correct, then we can expect ST readership to plunge very rapidly by then. It would then cease to be ann effective propaganda tool.

Yet another step towards a free Singapore.

Alan Wan said...

Any newspaper that is worth its credentials would have carried out a thorough investigative report on the massive losses by our national investment vehicle GIC / Temasick. It's strange that our Shitty Times doesn't seem to have any investigative mind of its own.

The fact remains to this very day that our Shitty Times has even failed to come out with a timely disclosure of our GIC/Temasick losses. Obviously & reluctantly, we can often find that a stale follow-up report on the losses only when the foreign press has long covered the news and often in a small column hidden from the main news. So much for professional investigative reporting by our Shitty Times.

Sometimes one can't help wonder whether our Shitty Times is actually a publications department set-up by MICA & ISD just like the Communist Chinese have their own news bureau office.

In fact I have never read the Shitty Times ever explain to us whether mee siam can have any hum in it ? They should, otherwise we will continue to be so daft, you know ?

remy said...

Hi there,

I had a question I'd like to ask you but in private,I was hoping you could email me at rcnyuihrc@gmail.com. Thanks alot.

Singapore Recalcitrant said...

Dear Remy,

I am afraid your email address is faulty. Repeated emails to you are returned.

My email address is:siewwah27@singnet.com.sg