States Times Review calls the state media and ministers “fake news” fabricators, and in turn, Minister K Shanmugam and the mainstream media calls the Australian website “fake news”.
It is a war to claim authority in the “real news” and the truth. The winner who occupies the moral standing will win public support and legitimacy.
So who is winning? Clearly it is States Times Review, the falling readership and closing of several state media papers like The New Paper, TodayOnline, Lian He Wan Bao and the retrenchment at SPH is testimonial to this.
STR is winning more Singaporeans over, that it is starting to become a real threat to the single party dictatorship. It is hence natural the government is now resorting to hack the system by legislating new laws banning the website or the sharing of STR articles.
The Singapore government tried to get their hands in the online news media landscape, through Singapolitics, The Middle Ground and Mothership. Unfortunately for them, two have since withered and Mothership’s readership has taken on the same path with falling readership.
Aside from publishing half-truth through these proxy “news” websites, the Singapore government also failed to character-assassinate STR. A number of government-backed troll websites like FAPAP tried to dig out personal information of STR editor Alex Tan – which is not much of a feat compared to Alex Tan having contested against the Prime Minister in Ang Mo Kio GRC – but they remain clueless behind the other admins and editors of STR. I do wish Alex would not be so forthcoming sometimes, but I admire his leadership.
Unfortunately for STR, it does not have any ally. The Online Citizen, activists and other small-time news media players similarly see STR as a threat, and they had all in the past hit out at STR. The enemy of my enemy is never a friend isn’t it?
It is hence one website here in Sydney against everyone, in this bloodless war on fake news. Unlike others, STR has tenacity and resilience. The more restrictive the media landscape will be, the stronger STR will be with flourish.