STOMP – Citizen journalism or just one big joke?

23 Oct

Admit it, you love complaining. If you’re a Singaporean, you’re used to complaining. One might even say that a Singaporean who doesn’t complain is not a true Singaporean. I was prompted to think about this, after a question was posed to us during class:

“Has the Internet with its distinctive model of ‘citizen journalism’ affected the influence of the mass media?”

Think ‘citizen journalism’ in Singapore and I’m very sure you’ll think of STOMP – an online interactive platform for Singaporeans to share and upload news. Has STOMP affected the influence of mass media in Singapore? Highly unlikely, I feel. According to the 2003 report, We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information, citizen journalism is the “concept of members of the public playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information”.

Would posts such as the ones below really mean much to anyone else?

In Singapore at least, to say that citizen journalism has affected the influence of the mass media would be to say that one would rather go to STOMP than read The Straits Times. I myself will never bring myself to do that. In what way would news such as the above have any value for me? Granted, The Straits Times is not exactly objective at times (after all, it is partially controlled by the government), but at the very least, they do bring news that have value to us Singaporeans, news of the economy, of politics, of world events, etc. Are posts about young people not giving up their seats to elderly passengers on the train even news anymore? It certainly feels like a fact of life these days, and that says something about our society.

If anything, perhaps citizen journalism is where the theory, Media Determinism, is best applied. With this theory, it is argued that the medium is more important than the message. Singaporeans will perhaps be more wary of committing such acts of discourtesy and inconsideration if they were to see a camera pointing in their direction. It is not the fact that they’re doing something some may consider rude, but rather just more of the fact that they know they’re going to be on STOMP.

Can citizen journalism ever affect the influence of the mass media in Singapore? I believe it is possible, but maybe 3 or even 4 generations from now on. You see, with STOMP, it’s a vicious cycle. It was first set up as a venue for Singaporeans to air their grievance and now, over the years, it has become a place for Singaporeans to complain. The more they complain, the more they go on STOMP, and the more they go on STOMP, the more they complain. It will never end. If we want our citizen journalism to be a little more “professional” and maybe, even emulate South Korean’s examples, then maybe Singaporeans can reduce their complaining, and spend the time they use for uploading mindless stories onto STOMP, and instead do some real journalism like finding and writing stories that actually matter.

What do you think? “Has the Internet with its distinctive model of ‘citizen journalism’ affected the influence of the mass media?”

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8 Responses to “STOMP – Citizen journalism or just one big joke?”

  1. retsarepus October 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Nice write (: and I very much agree with your view on local citizen journalism. STOMP is unlikely to replace mainstream media in the near future despite its growing in popularity. Pieces on STOMP still lack the distinct quality and authenticity regulations to make it a reliable replacement to say the ST. It has become somewhat, like you said, a complain hub and I don’t think it’s going to move beyond that because it’s the premier portal supporting Singaporean’s favorite pastime!

    One thing the STOMP page doesnt have going in its favor though is its site layout, i think it’s way too messy. <– Singaporean right there 😛

  2. tanyouyi October 30, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Not in Singapore yet. I believe that there is still a long long long way for citizen journalism to actually inflict a significant influence on our society. Often, most topics on citizen journalism websites such as STOMP, are insignificant and valueless. Whereas, mainstream mass media such as Straits Times are credible and resourceful in providing topics with depth and value. Although voices of citizen journalists could affect a political election by influncing people on the choice of their vote but mainstream mass media remains to be dominant influnce to the people.

    • retsarepus November 1, 2011 at 2:21 am #

      ST actually ran a poll recently for which they found that new media, citizen journalists included, didnt really impact the voting preferences in this year’s election. I can somewhat vouch for that from my personal experience. The SDP was pretty strong in the presence online, and their team, let by the very outspoken Vincent Wijeysingha, appeared to be one of those teams that could give the PAP a run for their money here. We were sorely disappointed though. Same story for presidency elections. Solid run in with good supporter-generated publicity, yet TCB fell to TTKY. Plenty of empty vessels in Singapore new media.

  3. belovedcandice November 4, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Actually, if you think about it, it’s all a part and parcel of citizen journalism; no one really knows what to report. So having a platform to “air their grievances” would mean that we all must be prepared that anything and everything will go on air.

    If we were to make a comparison between Stomp and South Korean netizens (as they call them), we really aren’t that different. Useless information can be reported but it’s eventually how we handle these information that counts. The fact that we are all flaming Stomp for being an avenue for gossip and trash, is telling how our society still holds academic credentials in high esteem and that we are not ready to embrace the thought of the man on the street getting credit for reporting something important.

    Take for example, the man who didn’t give up his seat to the heavily pregnant woman. If he were to be more aware and caring toward the people around him, his face wouldn’t appear on Stomp. It’s because there are things like this happening, accidents that go unreported that we need citizen journalism. And Singaporeans should be less critical in responding to such news, but instead learn from these examples and put courtesy to practice.

  4. belinda November 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    “It was first set up as a venue for Singaporeans to air their grievance and now, over the years, it has become a place for Singaporeans to complain. ”
    What’s the diff between airing your grievances and complaining?

    Anyway, STOMP has some pretty good news there. It’s the need to sift through pages of rubbish to get to it that bothers me. If the webmasters of STOMP actually bother to validate what is relevant and what is just whining, I think STOMP can become a popular online news site. But then again, that it censorship with the webmasters being gatekeepers.

    There is no culture in SG to be responsible in public. Yes, people are generally responsible. But when you come to topics like littering and vandalism and posting pictures of people who presumably ignore others in need of the reserved seat, there is evidently no responsibility. So unless netizens develop a sense of responsibility, STOMP has no hope of becoming a reliable and popular news source.

  5. Chloe November 5, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    I agree with you (: there is no way that citizen journalism will even begin to remotely influence or replace the mass media in Singapore. While I have to admit that some articles on STOMP make interesting reads, most of them are about matters that are completely inconsequential. On the rare occasions that I visit the STOMP site, I find myself having to go through pages of litanies of complaints before coming across something noteworthy. Singapore definitely needs better avenues for citizen journalism, or like you said, perhaps they should simply take the initiative to find stories worth writing about. That, however, could prove to be rather difficult since complaining is pretty much ingrained in our culture ^^

  6. zaffy November 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    i don’t think stomp should even be considered as journalism. It’s just a platform for Singaporeans for mindless complaining. And you know how Singaporeans are – they complain abt even the nitty gritty things, which means stuff that is not even newsworthy! Like how couples are kissing in public? i think what stomp should set out to do is to have a gatekeeper to filter the entries posted so as to maintain a level of credibility

  7. Kai Ling November 6, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    The zero-barrier access to such online platform has allow an influx of online users who post even the most trivial things on the website. It seems that the venting ground of facebook and twitter ( which thankfully that I don’t have an account) is not enough to pacify their desire to complain.

    However, it is a choice of others to view these trivial complaints. Personally I feel that by owning a facebook account, i am voluntarily exposing myself to these complaints and trivial laments about life – like its too cold in the bus or whatsoever. We do have a choice to not log into these websites.

    To not overshadow the positive aspects of this online platform, we can’t deny that it makes information dissemination more effectively, and bring up social issues in a more light-hearted manner. For instance, if it is not for stomp, an online platform in which others could post photos of those who are inconsiderate and embarrass them, i believe that the trend of such inconsiderate behavoir will most likely continue.

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