fbpx
16/07/2019 Communication Science news and articles

Is Having a Restricted Press Really Such a Bad Thing?

Having a government-controlled press, singapore has been ranked 150th out of 180 countries on the World Freedom Press Index. But is this controlled press really a bad thing in a time were fake news thrives?


Singapore is one of the most well-developed countries currently. It is the third-richest country in the world, has the most powerful passport, and the best airport for seven consecutive years. However, the very same country has also been widely criticised for having a lack of free speech, most notably, the lack of free press. According to Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Singapore has been ranked 151th out of 180 countries, just below Bangladesh and Russia in terms of press freedom. But, with the rise of fake news and the lack of diversity in newsrooms, is having a government-controlled press really such a bad thing?

A Government-Controlled Press
In Singapore, the government acknowledges the power of the media and therefore, it is used as a nation-building tool that should contribute to social cohesion. The Singaporean government views the press to be able “to serve an active, participatory, and ‘responsible’ role of contributing to the ideal of a strong nation-building model in Singapore”, and “only through a ‘responsible’ press will nation-building be successfully realised in Singapore”. As a result, individuals or corporations are not allowed to control the press, the press is unable to exercise editorial independence, and the press is not allowed to ridicule political leadership.

The main regulation, ‘Newspaper and Printing Presses Act’ in Singapore, requires a permit from companies who would like to print and publish in Singapore, publish, sell, or distribute Malaysian newspapers in Singapore, or sell or distribute an international newspaper that is published outside of Singapore. This state-issued license has to be renewed every year.

Moreover, the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act gives the government of Singapore the power to approve ‘substantial’ shareholders: one who holds more than 5% of votes, of a newspaper company. The act also gives the government the right to restrict the person’s exercise of voting power in a newspaper company.

How Can This be a Good Thing?
You might be thinking “This sounds way too restrictive. How can this be a good thing?”. Well, through the act, the government is also allowed to control the number of players in the market to ensure that the press is able to cater to diverse groups in Singapore. This also allows people of various ethnicities in Singapore to be represented and heard in the mainstream media.

For example, the Singapore Press Holdings, a major publicly-listed media organisation with strong links to the government, has a wide range of newspapers to cater to the diverse ethnicities in Singapore. The company publishes Lianhe Zaobao, a daily Chinese newspaper, Shin Min Daily News, a light-hearted evening newspaper in Chinese, Berita Harian, a Malay daily newspaper, and Tamil Murasu, a Tamil language newspaper.

In contrast, countries like America and the United Kingdom, which practices press freedom, have been experiencing a lack of diversity in newsrooms. According to a study, minority individuals, who are of a black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or other ethnicities, accounted for one out of 11 people appearing on the masthead of The Washington Post, three out of 18 people of The New York Times, and one out of 14 people of the Los Angeles Times.

Fake News
Besides encouraging diversity in newsrooms, I also believe that Singapore’s government-controlled press helps to tackle a large issue many countries face: the rise of fake news. In March 2018, the Singapore government caught the attention of international media by proposing plans to block electronic communication at terrorist attack scenes. This new law gives police the ability to block all communication of journalists and members of the public on-site a terrorist attack. This ranges from photographs to videos, text and audio messages, for up to a month if the authorities feel that the security operations could be compromised. This proposal was heavily criticised by press freedom rights groups and puts Singapore’s press media in the limelight. However, not only does this proposed law help to prevent any information leaks to terrorists and compromise security, this could also help to fight fake news.

For Singapore, where the media is viewed as a nation-building tool, it is understandable why such a law is proposed. Imagine if such a scene were to occur and passers-by who may not have a clear overview of the situation post pictures and videos on their social media. The content uploaded on social media could result in unsolicited speculations and spark concern and anxiety among its citizens. By blocking such electronic communication, it could allow an authorised personnel, who will most likely have a better understanding of the situation, to disseminate factual information to the residents of Singapore, so as to avoid a country-wide panic attack.

Granted, not many countries with a restrictive press use it the way Singapore uses its press. These countries may use it to spread their political agenda, or to enforce certain behaviour to its citizens. However, using Singapore as an example, I hope that people can be more critical and understand why certain measures are in place before blatantly expressing that this is wrong and that their citizens are repressed. I hope that this article can help you realise that having a government-controlled press may not be as disastrous as many people claim to be.

Cover: brotiN biswaS/pexels  / Final Editor: Ivo Martens

139 Total Views 1 Views Today

Reacties

reacties

Related Posts

Ada Varriale – a first-year communication science student

24/06/2019

24/06/2019

Join us as we get to know a little more about first year Communication Science student, Ada.

The downfall of Vero

22/06/2019

22/06/2019

Our brand new writer Jade on the downfall of Vero. Why was it the most promising social media platform? And why was it not able to beat Facebook?

The Day I Broke My Smartphone

21/06/2019

21/06/2019

Could you go a day without your smartphone?

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

20/06/2019

20/06/2019

For this week's review, Karina tells you what she thinks about the popular book (and series) the Handmaid's Tale.

Congrats on being phubbed!

18/06/2019

18/06/2019

Phubbing is something we experience a lot in current society. Medium elaborates the negative consequences and gives you also advices how to stop phubbing.

The Dutch Hunger Games: Room-seeking struggles in the Netherlands

15/06/2019

15/06/2019

One minute on Facebook and the fight is on: “Pick me”. “I’m clean and sociable”. “I can pay extra rent”. “PM sent”. “Check your PM”. “Love me”. “Save me from homelessness”. Welcome to a normal day in the life of a student searching for a room in Amsterdam.

Spreading Digital Literacy With a Donkey

13/06/2019

13/06/2019

In order to increase digital literacy Dayn Amada brings his Community Tablet to rural communities. This device and its education, which can be transported by a donkey, is linked to culture and uses gamifcation to enhance the learning process. Eva explains this alternative way of learning and why it is successful.

Review: De lessen van Clarence Seedorf in College Tour

11/06/2019

11/06/2019

Loïs over het optreden van Clarence Seedorf in College Tour, en over de wijze lessen die we van hem kunnen leren.

The consequences of power and design in Black Mirror

05/06/2019

05/06/2019

People are probably unaware that many powerful people in Black Mirror are abusing the technology. Medium shows how this happens in several episodes.

Nudity in the Eye of the Beholder

04/06/2019

04/06/2019

Nudity has seen a great change in meaning over the years. Of course there is a physical aspect, but there is also a rather artsy view. Aakansha discusses the multiple ways of looking at nudity.

Alumni of the Month: Arco Gnochhi

27/05/2019

27/05/2019

Medium sprak met Arco Gnochhi. Alumni van Communicatiewetenschap, voetbaltwitteraar 2018 en momenteel programmamaker bij BNNVARA.

Aspiring for digital wellness

21/05/2019

21/05/2019

Actually we can't live without our smartphones. Nevertheless there are some solutions to control our digital lives. Medium has elaborated some of them.

Three Identical Strangers: a review

20/05/2019

20/05/2019

Have you ever wondered if there's a doppelganger of you out there somewhere? 3 men found those doppelgangers. They actually all looked exactly alike. Little did they know, they turned out to be brothers! Aakansha reviews the movie Three Identical Strangers, about these 3 men.

Medium Podcast #6 – A crash course in TV media landscape and why Game of Thrones rules

19/05/2019

19/05/2019

Plamen is back, but this time he’s sitting on the Medium throne. In this 6th episode of the Medium Podcast,...

The Brutally Feminine Murder of the Anti-Hero

18/05/2019

18/05/2019

We all love a hero, but sometimes, an anti-hero is even better. This article explores moral ambiguity and why we are attracted to it.

EnjoyInstagram