The latest, hottest news in Singapore, is the petition to get one of our country’s citizen journalism sites, STOMP, removed. I am not even going to give that site the honour of being hyperlinked, just Google it yourself.
The definition of citizen journalism is simple: a piece of news that is not reported by a professional reporter or journalist, but by the common man and woman: you and me. It has some advantages over mainstream reporting: it tends to be more personal, more timely (no pesky editors to run through your work), and the citizen reporter’s knowledge of the topic tends to be more specialised.
Disadvantages? Some citizen reporters have absolutely no idea, no fundamental understanding of what constitutes as “news”, and this is where STOMP is at its most notorious. Who the flying fuck gives a damn about some random guy drinking water on the train? Or National Servicemen that fail to give up their seats on the train? How the hell is this news? Citizen journalism my arse, citizen voyeurism is the more accurate term here.
I apologise for my choice of very strong words, but I am speaking as a person who has studied journalism in university. Time and time again, we are always taught the utmost importance of fact-checking, and quoting a person accurately in the right context. In my current job, where I am reporting about sports, I am always reminded on a daily basis by my supervisors: check your facts. Check where your quotes come from. What is the prominence of this news and how will a reader be interested in it?
Sites like STOMP make my blood boil because the stuff posted there goes against every single thing I was taught. It is an insult to reporters, bloggers, and writers who take the time and effort to compose meaningful pieces.
A friend on Facebook posted an interesting view about STOMP: that it was originally created by our government in order to give the illusion of freedom of speech, by allowing our citizens a chance to post news. Unfortunately, every thing in life is give or take, action and consequence. If you devote your freedom-of-speech website to chaotic nonsense-crap, then eventually you are going to get crap in return.
It is quite ironic that the catalyst for this backlash against STOMP was the “news” of the serviceman not standing up to give up his seat (even though there were other empty seats available). National Service is a very sensitive and personal topic for males here in Singapore, and it was the last straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
The editors and curators of STOMP are not the only ones the blame, but every single person that submitted crap news to the site, everyone who viewed the site on a daily basis and contributed comments: you are all just as accountable. A shithole remains a shithole because of the people that continue feeding it. As CM Punk once famously said: if you are unhappy with something, if you are angry about a product, then STOP consuming it.
Otherwise, you are nothing more than a hypocrite.