DPM Heng says mainstream media's role in a changing landscape remains the same - to be a trusted, reliable news source

(From left) Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, ST editor Warren Fernandez and SPH deputy CEO Anthony Tan during a tour of
(From left) Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, ST editor Warren Fernandez and SPH deputy CEO Anthony Tan during a tour of the ST studio on Nov 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
(From right) Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad, ST editor Warren Fernandez, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during a tour of the ST newsroom on Nov 11,
(From right) Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad, ST editor Warren Fernandez, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during a tour of the ST newsroom on Nov 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat visited Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) News Centre on Monday (Nov 11) morning for a first-hand look at how The Straits Times and other media outlets in the group are transforming and adapting to challenges in a rapidly-evolving media landscape.

"Although the media landscape has been irrevocably changed with the advent of digital technology, the role of mainstream media remains the same - to be a trusted and reliable news source for audiences," he said in a Facebook post after his visit.

"Glad to have met many passionate staff who are committed to being accurate in their news reporting - a current challenge because fake news is proliferating globally and has been often used as a tool to divide rather than unite people," he added.

During the three-hour visit, Mr Heng met editors and journalists at The Straits Times, Berita Harian, Tamil Murasu and SPH's Chinese Media Group, which publishes Lianhe Zaobao, and was briefed on how they were innovating to continue engaging readers.

These range from using data-analytics tools that provide real-time statistics on how many people are reading a story at any one time, to training journalists to be more comfortable when talking about their stories on camera to pique the interest of younger audiences.

Mr Heng was also updated on publications like ST's Little Red Dot for primary school pupils, as well as ST's IN and Zaobao's Zbcomma for secondary school students, and said newsrooms' ability to capture the attention of the young and cultivate a reading habit is important to fostering news readers of the future.

With him on the visit were Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran and Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad.

They visited The Straits Times' studio where video series such as The Big Story and Hangout with ST are produced and broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

They also visited Berita Harian's Media Centre where its popular podcast #NoTapis (or #NoFilter) is filmed. The podcast covers topics such as misconceptions of Ramadan and interracial marriages, and Mr Heng said he was encouraged to learn that it has around 10,000 downloads every month.


Clockwise from top-left)  Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, alongside Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran and Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad visited teams from SPH Chinese Media Group, Tamil Murasu, 
The Straits Times and Berita Harian on Nov 11, 2019. PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/FACEBOOK

He also noted that the team at Tamil Murasu, the second oldest Tamil paper in the world, had done good work in engaging the Tamil community with its wide-ranging news coverage for Tamil speakers not only in Singapore but also overseas.

The three office-holders also met editors and correspondents from Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu for a discussion on the challenges arising from the use of social media and the need to engage the young in today's digital age.

Said Mr Heng: "As the progress of technology continues to change the way we get our information, there will be opportunities to tap on but also new challenges to overcome. I hope that SPH will constantly innovate to remain competitive and relevant, while staying grounded to what their core values are - embracing change and upholding integrity."