Sunday, October 14, 2007

MM Lee on the Web's gems and rubbish

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says that the print media is stagnating against the Internet. His advice to newspapers: Be the first with the analysis. He made this point during a wide-ranging interview with US columnist Tom Plate and new media expert Jeffrey Cole.

On Wednesday, transcripts of the wide-ranging interview were made available online by UCLA Asia Institute.

Singapore is one of the world's most wired countries, far ahead of the pack. How do you imagine over time that this will change Singapore? What will be your sense of what happens in an educated country with high standards, when anyone can get anything on the Web, videos and blogs so that the role of a centralised media becomes less and less dominant?

Well, it is already on its way because the print media here is not growing the same way, they are stagnating. It's not declining as fast as, say, it is in America or Britain.

The young, they read things on the Internet. Yes, I read some stuff on the Internet, but at the end of the day, I say, well, let's see what the proper analysis is.

So, I look up, I look at the editorial pages and the op-ed pages. I am not sure that the young will do that anymore, but the way the print media can stay in the contest is not to be the first with the news because that's not possible, but to be the first with the background and the analysis and the ones with the high credibility will stay in business.

You must have credibility because you get so much on the Internet. Whom do you believe? Finally, you've got to say, who is saying this? And you don't know.

But if you say, this is The New York Times, this is the Washington Post or the LA Times, then you say, well, that is the standard.

With the rise of China, we are already seeing more and more going to China doing business and more Chinese coming here doing business. So, they are going to start reading the Chinese blogs, the Chinese news. It's already happening. So, the trend will be from print to screen.

Right. So, that the role of the centralized media is less important. Even if you can control the centralised media, that's less and less valuable than before.

I don't know if you've caught up with this story. It's a bit of scandal going on.

(Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister) Anwar Ibrahim leaked a video ... of an Indian lawyer talking to a top judge about how he can arrange to get him promoted to be the "Number One" or whatever.

I think it was an eight-minute video and Anwar has now put it on the Internet and it's on YouTube!

So the Malaysian bar - which have already been dismayed at the degradation of their judiciary and the corruption and judgebuying and case-buying - they have demanded a royal commission to inquire into the facts.

So, the government, under pressure now, has appointed a committee of judges and one eminent person, to check on the authenticity of this tape.

So, that's bought them some time, but in the meantime, 2,000 lawyers, following what the Pakistani lawyers did, have marched on to the Prime Minister's office to deliver a petition to investigate this matter.

Now, this would not have happened without the Internet and without YouTube. I mean it is so simple, you see. But at the same time, there is the problem of credibility.

So, you have a website called Malaysiakini. That means "Malaysia Now" and it's got some very good articles in it and some of them are signed regularly by the same person. So when we get that, we read it and then we say, okay, circulate it.

But you get a lot of rubbish, too, and you have got to filter it. It's a waste of time.

This is the future of professional journalism, if there is any?

No, you'll always have it. But if we don't use this [new technology], then we are just one hand tied behind us ... This is a highly competitive world. But the flood of information leads to overload.

Therefore, you've got to have somebody filter it for you.

1 comment:

team bsg said...

we are on the way but very very slow