Users of Govt feedback arm Reach's website must register from next month: PM

The change marks the move towards a new framework Singapore needs to have to take full advantage of the new media environment, in light of a strategic shift in the media landscape.


Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here are excerpts on the new media landscape that PM Lee talked about in his keynote speech at the Zaobao Forum, in point-form:

New Media Landscape

The media landscape has been completely transformed since Zaobao began

a. Globalisation and technology have drawn the world closer together, but led to more rapid changes and uncertainty

b. Social media is transforming our lives

c. Readership and consumption habits have evolved

i. Number of Singaporeans readers is stagnating; their median age is rising

ii. Interests more diverse, including greater demand to hear different points of view - not just for serious news, but entertainment and lifestyle too

iii. Many people no longer read the papers or news online, but rather rely on friends' recommendations via social media

iv. Media "pulled" on demand rather than "pushed" to captive audiences

v. Preference for shorter, quicker snippets than comprehensive analyses - 140-character limit on Weibo and Twitter makes it an impossible challenge to report serious stories!

vi. More sources of news, many of which are free. More readers using free news aggregators, thus putting pressure on paid providers like Zaobao

These trends bring many benefits, but also new challenges

a. Benefits:

i. Easier to share information, connect with one another, keep abreast of latest trends

ii. People may be physically far apart, but they can connect instantly to family, friends and colleagues, e.g. "virtual" reunions over Chinese New Year

iii. People are using new media to organise themselves for common causes

(1) e.g. disaster relief efforts for "Typhoon Haiyan" in the Philippines

(2) Humanitarian assistance could be quickly organised because of new media

(3) What would have taken many days now takes minutes

b. Challenges:

i. News that travels fast may not be the most accurate

ii. Immediate consensus views may no gel with considered analyses

iii. Easier to coalesce in narrower groups, and hence harder to forge a national consensus

Abuse of new media is a big challenge facing many countries, including Singapore, e.g.

a. Criminal activity, including hacking

i. Witnessed multiple attacks recently - in Singapore and our neighbours

ii. Hacking is a serious threat. Not just a prank but can cause grave harm, e.g. shutting down essential government services, or crashing a hospital management system. Hence it is a crime

iii. We will deal with the culprits fully under the law

b. Cyber-bullying

i. A growing problem

ii. Young are especially vulnerable - victims may end up depressed or suicidal

iii. We need laws to combat cyber-bullying and other forms of internet harassment

c. Trolling

i. Phenomenon of discussion and debate degenerating into abuse and hate-mongering

ii. Issue is not about whether people agree or disagree online - trolls deter serious readers from participating, and ruin the overall atmosphere in cyberspace

iii. SUch behaviour is totally unacceptable face to face, and should be totally unacceptable online too

iv. One factor behing trolling: Online anonymity

(1) Studies have shown that anonymity increases unethical behaviour and contempt, because they feel that no one will know who they are and hence can do whatever they want

v. Many overseas sites have grappled with this issue. Some have installed safeguards to manage the problem, e.g.

(1) Requiring log-ins for posting comments - YouTube, New York Times

(2) Banning comments altogether - Popular Science

vi. In Singapore, we see more constructive engagement online, but also no lack of trolling

vii. We must fight back against trolling, and provide a safe, responsible online environment which promotes constructive participation

viii. TODAYonline.com now requires readers to log-in using their FB [Facebook] accounts before posting comments - this has worked well and raised quality of discussion

ix. Government will do likewise - REACH will require log-ins from mid-December

These challenges are not easy to solve. But the new media is already a reality and an indispensable part of our lives

a. We must do more to harness its potential to improve our lives, while reducing its downsides

The Government is harmonising our New Media rules with our rules for mainstream media, e.g.

a. Requiring online news site that exceed a certain readership to be licensed under the Broadcasting Act

b. Requiring news and current affairs sites not to receive foreign funding

Goverment also leveraging new media to engage Singaporeans better

a. Almost every ministry and MP has a FB account

b. Including me (plus Twitter and IG [Instagram] too!)

c. Because young Singaporeans tell me, "Facebook is for the older generation (20-30 years old); I use IG!"

d. I find them effective channels of communications, which allow me to engage Singaporeans directly and quickly

i. My recent FB post about a barn owl which flew into the Istana garnered 500,000 views within a day!