Media must be credible, balanced and objective: PM Lee

[ ]Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching at yesterday's launch of the ST170 exhibition, Singapore STories: Then. Now. Tomorrow, which depicts Singapore's history through the pages of The Straits Times.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching at yesterday's launch of the ST170 exhibition, Singapore STories: Then. Now. Tomorrow, which depicts Singapore's history through the pages of The Straits Times.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

These hallmarks of ST should be upheld as it adapts to changing media scene, he says

From its first issue on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times has chronicled the Singapore story.

And by telling the story of Singapore, through Singaporean eyes, the paper has helped its readers make sense of developments around them. In doing so, the paper became an important part of the Singapore story, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at a celebration of the newspaper's 170th anniversary.

Mr Lee, tracing the legacy of Singapore's most-read newspaper, said: "If you want to know what happened in Singapore or in the region around us, The Straits Times is an indispensable place to start.

 
 

"Because it has reported news reliably and objectively over the years, and it has done so through Singaporean eyes, helping Singaporeans make sense of the world and our place in it."

This was so when Singapore was part of the Straits Settlement, during the Japanese Occupation, the merger with Malaysia and then Separation, and the country's journey from Third World to First.

"The Straits Times story is one important strand of the Singapore story," he said in a speech at the ArtScience Museum, where he opened the ST170 exhibition. The launch was attended by over 200 people.

The free exhibition, titled Singapore STories: Then. Now. Tomorrow, depicts Singapore's history through the pages of the newspaper. It opens tomorrow and runs from 10am to 7pm daily until Oct 4.

"As the newspaper of record, you have standing in our society. You are not a fly-by-night piece of paper circulated in dark alleys when nobody is looking," he added. "You must remember what you report and how you report also inevitably influence people's opinions and the course of events in Singapore."

But the 170-year-old Straits Times, which is older than dailies such as The New York Times and England's Daily Telegraph, has not been immune to shifting media trends.

Noting this, Mr Lee said it has made its content more accessible in various forms, and adapted its operations to changing patterns of news consumption in its recent redesign.

"The Straits Times has to be of the new generation, by the new generation, and for the new generation of readers," he said.

"At the same time, it still needs experienced hands in the newsroom and it still needs to look after its older readers and those who have stayed loyal to it for many decades."

As it adapts to the changing media landscape, Mr Lee said it must not lose sight of its role as the newspaper of record, and continue to "maintain (its) hallmark of credible, balanced, objective reporting".

"As a Singapore newspaper whose past, present and future are intrinsically tied to our nation, your natural stance is to be pro-Singapore," he said. Being pro-Singapore means taking a balanced, long- term perspective of the country's interests, reporting the news for Singaporeans through Singaporean eyes, and understanding the country's social and regional context when reporting on sensitive and emotional issues.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Media must be credible, balanced and objective: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe