Chee Hong Tat to media firms: Focus on quality

It is a mistake for news organisations to reduce newsroom resources in the face of a more challenging business environment, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat said yesterday.

Doing so would only weaken their capabilities in the long run and affect their ability to produce quality content essential to attracting and retaining viewers, he said.

A better strategy, he told participants at the third Global News Forum organised by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and Singapore media company Mediacorp, was for news organisations to invest in digital technology to keep up with changing consumer preferences.

While the number of people who read newspapers and watch television here has fallen, there has been an increase in those who get their news and information online.

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The challenge is for media companies such as Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp to "monetise their growing online presence to make up for the loss in advertising revenue from their traditional platforms", he said.

One way forward is to focus on quality reporting.

"The idea is not to beat fake news at their own game, for example by using more sensational headlines or generating clickbait," said Mr Chee. "That is neither feasible nor desirable. Fake news sites do not have to protect their reputation or check their facts. So we cannot beat them if we play by the same rules."

He also emphasised a commitment to accuracy and a duty in serving the public interest.

Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Chee Hong Tat to media firms: Focus on quality'. Print Edition | Subscribe