On 22 October I wrote the blog post ‘What transnational couples really need‘. In it, I highlighted the obstacles in the way of young transnational couples seeking to settle down in Singapore. The article generated some interest, thanks to the helpful sharing and retweeting of some friends. I also did a short radio interview with 938 LIVE on Saturday to talk about the issue.
Tell people in Singapore that you’re a journalist and they almost always ask, “SPH ah?”
They can’t be blamed for that assumption; the Big Two, Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp, are the biggest source of jobs for local journalists. There are many experienced, hard-working and talented journalists in both these companies, gathering news in Singapore and overseas every day. Unfortunately, The Economist described Singapore’s mainstream media as “insipidly sycophantic” for a reason. Our press freedom rankings also suck; something that the Prime Minister doesn’t take seriously but journalists should.
There are a number of international news organisations with bureaus or staff in Singapore, but such opportunities don’t come along very often. Even these big news organisations are downsizing, spreading their employees ever more thinly. Judging from research done on the journalism industry, journalists all over the world find themselves having to resort to ‘churnalism’ now and then – or even more regularly than that – to fill pages and airtime.
In this context, being a freelance journalist is practically a convenient necessity. A necessity because getting a job might be difficult if you don’t particularly wish to work for local mainstream media, and convenient because there are definitely perks that come with being a freelancer.
It’s World Press Freedom Day today. It might seem like something that’s very specific to journalists, but the state of press freedom has a huge impact on everyone.
The things we read in papers and on websites, see and hear on television and radio, inform and affect the way we form opinions. Its influence can be seen in everyday interpersonal relationships all the way up to state policy.
The stakes are high when it comes to journalism. All over the world journalists have been – and are – struggling to do their work of bringing important stories to the people. Some journalists have given their lives. Others wait behind bars as courts and governments hurl dubious accusations to justify the unjustifiable fact of their imprisonment.
Journalists in Singapore face significantly less dangers. Some might even say Singaporean journalists are molly-coddled. But the matter of press freedom – and all the associated issues relating to freedom of speech – is just as relevant here as anywhere else in the world.