Citizen journalism during the Singapore General Elections 2006

Aired on 12 May 06, Channel News Asia looks at the role of the Internet (e.g. blogs, podcasts and forums) in fostering political discussion and independent news coverage during the recent Singapore General Elections.

Do note that bloggers caught the news network doctoring (censoring) blogs featured in this program, where certain words were conveniently whited-out for “safer” public viewing.

One of the positive outcomes of the recent Singapore elections is the dramatic shifting of attention towards blogs. In particular, netizens who wrote fervently during this time deservingly became overnight sensations. There’s lots of talk about the idea of “citizen journalism” so perhaps some explaination would be in order:

Also known as “participatory journalism,” this is the act of citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information”. According to the seminal report “We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information”, by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis. They say, “The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.”

When mainstream media takes its cues from bloggers, the agenda-setting power shifts toward us. This empowerment isn’t something a blogger can simply own right from the start, but is brought upon when others in the community find value in one’s opinions. As such, it is the community at large which determines what they want to read, watch and listen, which then gives credence to the relevant media.

Whether it be from the mainstream media, or grassroots media such as blogs and podcasts, people now not only have a greater choice of perspectives to subscribe to, but of places to go to disseminate and distribute their thoughts. I see this participatory culture necessary to a true democracy, one where everyone has their rightful share of voicing their concerns. I can’t wait for the next elections to see more people turn off their televisions (passive media), and tune in to the internet to not just listen, but join in (active media).

(CNA footage via SGRally and Tomorrow.sg)

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