After days of hesitation, Singapore Press Holdings has finally acknowledged that its band of online warriors under the banner of the website, STOMP, needs a re-look. The word editor-in-chief (English and Malay newspapers) used was “review”.
He told to mUmBRELLA in Hong Kong: “I can’t say that it [the anti-STOMP campaign] doesn’t have an impact on us. We will have to review it. After all, we serve an audience.”
Daniel said his team is still working on the sort of review STOMP needs, whether it will be heavier moderation of the site or more stringent fact checking.
This comes shortly after SPH digital editor Felix Soh took a very different stand.
“It is sad that those who clamour for the freedom of the Internet are now asking for the closure of a website – just because they don’t like it,” he said.
But one thing is clear: STOMP will not be closed down. Daniel said: “We have a solid following of people who can live with a bit of edginess. They’re not troubled by it.”
“I’m not forcing everyone to read it [STOMP]. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. It’s not as if STOMP is your only media diet. It’s a website for people to engage with us, and that’s what it is.”
What does all this mean for a site that has got some Singaporeans signing a petition to ask the government to close it down?
If Daniel keeps to the spirit of the word “review”, then a key area he needs to look into is upholding journalism standards that his organisation proudly says it does.
Accuracy and fairness must be the watchwords. It can’t let STOMP operate like a guerrilla outfit very different from its mothership. If the review is cosmetic, then it will only put the government, SPH’s protector, in an embarrassing position of practising double standards in the online world.