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- Friday, October 09, 2009
News and opinions from an independent perspective
The future of Singapore’s New Media: Moving beyond passion
October 9, 2009 by admin01
The Straits Times published an article recently on the plight of two student-founded and let online newspapers – NUS’s Campus Observer and NTU’s The Enquirer which are struggling for survival due to lack of funds and manpower.
Founded in May 2006 by ten NUS undergraduates, the Campus Observer had a daily readership of 100 to 1,000 visitors and had up to 20 volunteers putting out five articles a week, from news to commentary pieces.
Now, its website content is updated by a group of just seven volunteers, producing just one report a week during term. Without an office, they meet instead at various locations on campus once a week.
They do not have advertisers either, but they are not considering registering as a company, and do not aim to make a profit. Rather, they seek only journalists who thrive on ‘passion’ alone.
Can journalism even survive, let alone thrive on “passion” alone? Though passion is crucial in the initial stages of new media development, be it running a blog or an internet newspapers, it can never sustain the momentum for long.
Sites run by student volunteers will never go far because they depend chiefly on their enthusiasm and passion which will fade with time as the founders graduate and leaving their work to less than interested juniors.
Even for those who are really passionate about blogging, they cannot afford to spend all their time and energies on it because they will be unable to feed themselves based on the advertising revenue alone.
Again, popular composite sites run by a team of volunteer writers can only continue as long the writers are keen to write for them, but as we all learn from the lessons of life, nobody will take their part-time pursuits seriously unless they can offer them a secure livelihood and career.
When this site was started two years ago, it had three administrators. None of them remains with us now. One was posted to China while the other had to spend more time on his work. In fact, we just changed a new team not too long ago.
Our readership has increased by more than 100 per cent in a year or so, but the advertising revenue had not kept pace with the increase in traffic. On the contrary, this site is losing hundreds of dollars a month because we need to move to a more powerful server to accommodate the heavy traffic load and to employ more freelance writers to contribute to the content.
Surely we have passion to sustain the site this far, but we cannot go on like this indefinitely. We must have a proper system in place to ensure that the site is self-sufficient in terms of funding and staffing in the long run.
That’s why we have decided to incorporate a company to run the site, but that alone is hardly enough. We need to develop a viable business model to generate adequate revenue not only to maintain the site, but to further develop and expand on it as well.
There are three stakeholders in Singapore’s fledging new media: readers, journalists and bloggers.
Bloggers like us are continuing our uphill task to counter the domineering influence of the mainstream media because we believe that Singaporeans truly need an alternative voice.
Readers visit our site because they are sick and tired of what is being covered and reported by the state media, but quality journalism comes at a price. Are our readers willing to pay for it?
The ideal situation is to have at least two full-time journalists to manage the site so that we can start producing original news articles instead of adapting them from the state media. However, journalists in Singapore don’t come cheap. Their wages will cost at least S$5,000 a month.
Temasek Review is no longer just a site run by a few bloggers. It has evolved into a public forum for all Singaporeans where their real voices and grouses can be heard. Every one of our reader has a stake in it.
It took us almost two years to exceed the online readership of TODAY. We have the confidence of taking the site further and competing directly with Straits Times if we have enough resources and unfortunately, we have no choice but to pass the cost to our readers.
The Malaysians are willing to pay extra for independent and objective news which explains why Malaysiakini is the No 1 online news site in Malaysia despite being a subscription-based site.
At one point or another, we will have to make our readers pay for an in-depth critique, an interview or a video clip. We now have 8,000 to 10,000 readers a day. Imagine if 1,000 of you are willing to pay $5 a month in support of us, we will be able to go very far.
Most importantly, it is time that Singapore journalists awake from their slumber and provide the leadership so desperately needed in the new media.
In Malaysia, the two most influential news site – Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider are founded and run by professional journalists. Why can’t Singapore journalists step out of their comfort zone and challenge the establishment?
Of course there is a price for everything in life. Trained, qualified and experienced journalists will not write for us unless they are properly renumerated at market rates. In fact, we may even have to pay more to entice them to cross over to our side.
So at the end of the day, it all boils down to you – the readers. You are the real masters, bosses and owners of Temasek Review. You are the ones who shall decide our destiny. Will we stagnate and disappear from the new media scene altogether or will we continue to grow from strength to strength? It depends chiefly on the degree of support we can garner from you.
RH: ME ON VIDEO DESCRIBING lky lhl wks NUMEROUS ELECTION RIGGINGS:
MY ACQUAINTANCE, MR DAVID DUCLOS, A FORMER POLICE INSPECTOR, AND HIS LAWYER FRIEND, EYEWITNESSED LEE KUAN YEW RIGGING THE 1997 CHENG SAN GRC ELECTION. READ MORE AT MY BLOG ENTITLED "I CAME, I SAW, I SOLVED IT" :
MY ONLINE POLICE REPORT ON LKY LHL WKS CHEATING ELECTIONS:
THE MOST COMPLETE RUBBISHING OF LEEconomics EVER:
[ALSO AT THE ABOVE BLOG, LIE KUAN YEW's LIES, CORRUPTION, WRONGFUL JAILING, TORTURE AND BEATING TO DEATH OF INNOCENT POLITICAL PRISONERS LIKE MR CHAN HOCK HUA]
READ ALSO MARTYN SEE's INTERVIEW WITH ME AT:
FOR QUICK, IRREVERENT REASONS WHY LIE KY DESERVES A NOBEL:
MY ARCHIVE OF WORKS AT:
PHOTOS OF LIE KY SCRATCHING MY WIFE's NEW CAR:
NOT GUILTY BUT TORTURED, DEGRADED 15 YEARS FOR PUBLICITY, FUN
MAKING HOME MOVIES IS THIS EASY: