Quality versus Trashy – Do locals really know the difference?

Citizen journalism is all rage in Singapore today especially since the launch of Strait Times’ STOMP.

Citizens and users take the role of a journalist and get to post pictures and videos of current events, happenings and sometimes even taboos as they go about their daily lives. STOMP is easily accessed via the worldwide web and is also available on mobile devices. There is no doubt that this portal allows viewers to experience events and concerns at lightning speed, something which traditional news media has a problem with for years.

STOMP has provided an avenue for viewers to receive news fast and as it happens.

In an interview with ABC’s James Panichi, Jennifer Lewis, Editor of STOMP said,

“Stomp was started in June 2006 and the whole idea was for the newspaper, The Straits Times, to connect with the young readers.”

Well, STOMP has definitely achieved that but the question that has me bothered is the quality and focus of the content on it. STOMP seems to carry news about almost everything and anything under the sun. Trivial and trashy rants about noisy children or ill mannered members of the public seem to make up the majority of posts.

Jennifer mentioned in the interview,

“every single day we get tons and tons and tons of our contributions, and we upload every single contribution that we get. That’s our commitment to the community. Whatever you tell us about the community, the neighbourhood you’re living in, or about Singapore in general, it will be uploaded.”

This has me a little worried. The editors do not control or doctor the contributions. So if the majority of contributions are harped on trivial matters then the culprit is the public.

Let’s look another website that allows users to contribute their own information: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a completely user provided database that has recently become a household name and necessary tool for almost everyone. The quality of the information posted is high. Though various institutions and academics do not view it as a completely credible source of information, users will agree that it is one of, if not the most informative website available.

Should we reconsider the approach taken with STOMP or do you think that it is fine the way it is?

Is it enough to just connect individuals (youth in particular) to news or should STOMP be taken to the next level where locals can turn to good quality relevant news, where foreigners can learn more about the happenings within the little red dot of country known as Singapore?

References:

ABC – The Media Report, The Singapore STOMP, OCT 2007, [Accessed 14 November 2010], http://www.abc.net.au/rn/mediareport/stories/2007/2051806.htm

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7 Responses to Quality versus Trashy – Do locals really know the difference?

  1. nickyeo says:

    Aside from not regulating the content published on STOMP, the editors of the said website have in my opinion, also lost a great part of their integrity and journalism ethics with the regards to the content that they feature on their sister channel RazorTV, largely due to their increased need to sensationalise news and attract increased viewership.

    Recently, the Darren Ng saga made headlines on RazorTV when his friends confronted the media reporting on the funeral.

    The title read ” Darren’s friends gang up and turn aggressive against the media” and that in itself was as distasteful as it got. Listen to the voice over and the journalist’s one -sided argument. Much could also be said about the editing of the clip, it could really have been made to make the media more accountable for their wrong in the part of the confrontation.

    Does RazorTV then suffer from the same lack of editorial control that plagues STOMP? Honestly there were things on the clip, such as the title and purposeful use of *beeps* to censor explicits that could have been edited better.

    Nick

  2. boonster says:

    STOMP has become an easy, convenient and lazy way for mainstream print journalists to mine stories. As such this has perpetuated and led to an increase in trashy and frivolous stories featured in tabloid format. However, on the flip side, STOMP citizen journalists had also brought to light issues that might not have seen the light of day in the pro-government print media such as the YOG caterer serving skimpy food to volunteers.

    At the end of the day, there needs to be a golden mean that is struck between what constitutes ‘news stories’ and what constitutes ‘fluff’ – and the journalist’s professionalism and news sense will come into play.

  3. I think your take on this topic is really well balanced. (:

    I refer to the first comment left by Nick regarding the recent Darren Ng saga. Not only is Nick right about STOMP ‘s editors for not having enough integrity and professionalism in handling the said issue, I feel that STOMP/Razor TV has completely no sense of empathy whatsoever just because they are out to achieve the news-worthiness of the incident.

    And even though there are a number of Pros when it comes to a Citizen Journalism Platform such as STOMP, I feel that the management of STOMP should be a little more stringent with the content that is being uploaded by users.

    Users should learn how to take the information uploaded in STOMP with a pinch of salt and know that in order to receive “real” news, the only rightful sources they should turn to ought to be Newspapers and the regular News Channel.

  4. Tiffany Ong says:

    Judging from the amount of content posted on STOMP, it’s evident that youths these days are all about seeking out platforms that allow them to bare their honest opinions.

    While STOMP has definitely given Singaporean youths that voice, I don’t agree that its “commitment to the community” should mean that every contribution the editor receives gets uploaded online. Though individual preference and ideas of what makes news ‘newsy’ differ, most Singaporeans I know hardly care to read about things like a fellow Singaporean being rude to an old lady on the bus, much less a foreigner living a thousand miles away.

    Since it might be too much to ask for the editors to sieve through “tons and tons” of contributions, perhaps a simpler alternative would be capping the number of contributions they allow in each day and making sure that not too many of the same type of posts (i.e. complaints) get uploaded. After all, surely their commitment to community should include some form of order to filter out the noise from the news. ☺

  5. Jacqueline says:

    There has been much controversy surrounding STOMP as an effective citizen journalism platform. The intention of citizen journalism is to provide reliable information to the public – which STOMP strongly advocates – yet as far as responsible journalism and accurate reporting goes, some news articles posted on STORM appear to fall short on precision and fairness. The infusion of citizen generated content on STOMP has drawn debates over its genuine reliability and objectivity, let alone a newsworthiness angle.

    Snapshots taken by STOMPers are accompanied by a story and featured on STORM. However, these snapshots may not tell the full story. In reality, some citizens are not concerned about understanding the context of the situation before diving in to make assumptions. This has led to several “accused” or should I say “victims” stepping up to clarify the underlying factors, unseen in the story.

    True enough that some trivial news may carry with them sensationalized twists and juicy angles which are capable of satisfying the diverse interests of the youth who give the impression of preferring “trashy” news over “quality” ones, shouldn’t the editors of STORM possess some form of social responsibility and practice ethical journalistic conduct to process the information and ensures that each contribution that gets uploaded is accurate, balanced and worthy of attention?

  6. bieliber says:

    Honestly, I do not consider STOMP to be citizen journalism. Citizen journalism in the proper sense does its own agenda-setting. Citizen journalists decide what questions need to be asked and what topics to pursue in a proper way.
    To me, it is not the source of facts or opinions that distinguishes citizen journalism from the mainstream – just because a story or picture comes from a reader does not make it a piece of citizen journalism. Instead, it boils down to who selects and decides what stories to pursue and publish. Editorial decision making is what separate journalism from gossip.
    STOMP seems to be a cross-over between social networking and community blogging. While most of the content is user-generated, to call it citizen journalism is a bit of a stretch. On a surface level, the outlook of stomp is visual, loud and color-laden, seemingly to attract a young target audience. If it were really citizen journalists discussing ‘weighty national issues’, I would consider the issue of credibility.

    Juliet Chow S3256413

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