“Award-winning STOMP, or Straits Times Online Mobile Print, is Asia’s leading citizen journalism website with user-generated material fuelling its success.” This statement is boldly acclaimed by Singapore Press Holdings.
As a recent “STOMPer” convert, it seems that STOMP offers much more than just citizen journalism. Academic and former Straits Times journalist Cherian George, begged to differ, “I don’t consider STOMP to be citizen journalism, because it puts the public on tap, not on top. It merely introduces greater interactivity to traditional journalism.” (Gerald Giam: 2006). Supporting the case, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, Tan Tarn How, defined citizen journalism as:
- Independent online publications with amateurs doing original reporting.
- Citizens contributing photos, video and news to the mainstream news outlets.
- When blogger adds personal commentary that relies on original research.
Based on Tan’s definition, is STOMP still what SPH claimed as true citizen journalism website? So whose stand should we take? When we take a closer look to STOMP, there are several other interesting features that eventually won them the coveted IFRA award in online media category in 2008.
Singapore Seen is one of the more popular featured section within STOMP. Coincidentally, the element of “citizen journalism” is the strongest in this part of STOMP. It is created as a platform for amateurs or citizens to do original reporting that they deemed to be newsworthy. The need to be recongised is satisfied when the report entry received numerous feedbacks and comments. “Hey, people ARE interested in what I have said.” Just like any social media junkies, a STOMPer would be pleased at the escalating number of views and comments that his report have generated.
Other interesting features of STOMP include TalkBack, which is equivalent to any forum discussion website. STOMPers get to host a discussion and see his thread flourish with numerous replies. Topics and issues raised, can be trivial as pets showcase to the controversial sexually related content. Just Talk Lah is just like the “Facebook” for STOMPers. Members get to create profile, making new friends and sharing of thoughts in the “wall” post. The interface, if not, seems like the replica of Facebook’s Wall page. Star Blog engages celebrity bloggers like Jamie Yeo, Dawn Yang and Maia Lee to blog on weekly hot topic in Singapore. If comments to these blog are not enough, STOMPer can actually engage with their favourite blog every Wednesday in live conversation in the comment section beneath their blogs.
If interactivity and participatory culture are the key concept behind the construction of STOMP, it definitely exceed all expectations. STOMP’s Court Room (presenting facts, the revelations and human drama on high profile case that are happening) , Ask Libby (a resourceful local question and answer, replica of Ask.com) , Movie Club (movie reviews and synopsis), Love-in (love stories, blind dating, speed dating events, etc.) are just some of the other featured sections found in the website. In fact, most if not all, sections found on STOMP will engage users to actively participate and share their comments and thoughts.
The wide range of activities that STOMP offer in the website, is apparently far more than just “Asia’s leading citizen journalism website” as SPH has claimed. No doubt elements of citizen journalism do exist in the website; one can argue that STOMP is more akin to a social online community where the interactions amongst STOMPers are extensive and everlasting.
- Gerald G. (2006) Review – The politics of Singapore’s new media in 2006, The Online Citizen, assessed on 12 Nov 2010, available at http://theonlinecitizen.com/2006/12/review-the-politics-of-singapores-new-media-in-2006/
- Bernard L. (2006) Aggregators, Blogs and Credibility: The “ABC” for Citizen journalism, Singapore Angle, assessed on 12 Nov 2010, available at http://www.singaporeangle.com/2006/06/aggregators-blogs-and-credibility-abc.html