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STOMP: are Singaporeans ready for online journalism?

STOMP has been a talking point among every Singaporeans since its inception. While this online journalism started as an initiative by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) do produce interesting stories, there is an increasing belief that the site has propagated and sensationalized short-fused news that may not be in the best interest of citizens.

While STOMP opened up the concept of “online journalism”, it has also conflicted the term. Not everyone can be a journalist – you have to be impartial and objective which most of these “online journalists” may not possess. Few incidents concerning misrepresented images have surfaced in order to provide a photo-proof to substantiate a story online. The onus is on these online journalists to possess the right attitude and integrity in their articles which is an intangible notion and thus cannot be regulated.

STOMP received 1.68 million unique visitors in March 2014 alone. Will they turn down a controversial story for their integrity at stake? With anonymity at play, it shifts the shouldering of blames elsewhere and this also lessened their responsibility. I believe this is why unconfirmed articles were and will still be allowed on the site.

STOMP has channelled significant attention towards our soldiers. Our NSFs get criticized for their sweat stench on public transport, drinking water and taking up seats on the train. What citizens failed to appreciate is our soldiers’ hard work and sacrifice for the nation. The recent accusation surrounding a NSF not giving up seat for an elderly turned out to be false news.

STOMP is an initiative by the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to promote online journalism, in the golden age of the Internet. STOMP is a site that has good intentions – online journalism to promote sense of ownership and pride to citizens-reported news and to nurture a sense of responsibility. However, it has turned nasty with nuanced news for slander and maligning others in the name of anonymity. When will we be able to take ownership of what we document?

One thing I am thankful for on the site is a strange sense of community amongst readers who stand for what is right, back up each other or even to the point of bashing STOMPers for providing redundant news. In a very small stance, this is an organic galvanizing tool to promote cohesion. Yet less so, many comments on STOMP just end up as a verbal spit and war.

Less than 18 hours, over 11,000 signatures were gathered in a petition to shut down the site. There has been promises made for a more stringent guidelines to post articles on the online journalism site. What is your take on STOMP as a platform for online journalism? Do you think Singaporeans are ready for online journalism?

Writer: Leong Chee Sheng

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