Photo of Warren Fernandez from Straits Times

Speaking at a forum held by the National Library, editor of state media Straits Times Warren Fernandez emphasised on the importance of government “communication” in fighting fake news and called for Singaporeans to subscribe to only the mainstream state media.

“The proliferation of fake news has to be fought by newsmakers being more proactive in communication, good journalism and smart citizens. In today’s world, you can’t wait till tomorrow, or next week, or several days later. You have to be quick to put your own view out and answer questions when they arise.”

Without providing any source to the survey he read, the chief propagandist claimed that the trust in state media journalism “has risen”:

“But just as important was good journalism, and news organisations which were credible and reliable. While surveys show that trust in the media and social platforms has been on the downward trend in many countries, including Singapore, he said it was heartening that trust in journalism has risen.”

ST Editor Warren Fernandez then slammed the internet for not having the journalist ethics of correcting an inaccurate news article, and praised his 151st-ranking state media for being “accurate”:

“At The Straits Times, accuracy is critical. We need to get the news out quickly, but while we want to be fast and first, it’s more important to get it right…if we make a mistake and it’s pointed out to us, we will correct it. Not all social media platforms would do the same.”

The state media editor also said that Singaporeans can turn to the government for “facts”:

“On our part, the Straits Times has embarked on sessions to engage readers and help them make sense of the news. We are also looking at working with other media organisations to see how to flag stories that could be misleading, as had been done in other countries, such as France. We are also working with other organisations, such as the NLB, to make ST’s archives available and accessible to the public so they can fact-check stories more easily.”

The propagandist then added that he will be submitting his recommendations to the government’s Select Committee to enact new censorship laws:

“The Straits Times will also be making representations to a committee of MPs set up to recommend how Singapore should tackle fake news, including possibly passing new laws. If there are new laws, I hope they would strike a balance between weeding out fake news that is deliberately misleading, malicious and used to profit off others, while letting journalists get on with doing their jobs.”