Flash Floods? Lightning-speed News!

Posted: June 25, 2010 in Current Affairs

(Twitter user, mooteh uploads a picture of Geylang Lorong 23 at approximately 9am)

Early this morning, heavy rains caused severe flooding in several areas. Many people who were on their way to work experienced the fury of the weather, which is the second instance within the month. Barely minutes into the floods, images were uploaded onto the popular social networking and micro-blogging site, Twitter. Twenty years ago, it would be nearly impossible to receive news within such short time. Taking today’s morning floods for example, it would traditionally take either half a day for such news to appear in the evening news, or a day to appear in tomorrow’s news papers; in contrast, with mobile access to the Internet, we are able to receive news on the go almost instantaneously.

This is a good illustration on how the media keeps up with the ever-changing times. In the past, both consumers and the media mainly relied on the newspaper as an avenue of receiving and sending information. Blessed with modern technological advances, we are increasingly reliant on new media mediums. Likewise, the mass media is dependent on consumers’ subscriptions which is the deciding factor on the choice of medium that the media delivers information through. If Twitter was not popular in the local context, Yahoo! News would probably not rely on it to broadcast news of the flood.

Citizen journalism is another application of media determinism, which is made possible by technology. If I wanted to find out the situation of the floods urgently, I would rely on Stomp as it offers current and updated news. While the newspaper would be more accurate in the coverage, I would have to wait for a day for it to appear in the next day’s papers.

I quote Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message”. The medium that we subscribe to changes the way we live and experience the world, as illustrated in our everyday ritual of obtaining news updates. Do you solely depend on the old-school habit of reading newspapers, or do you incorporate the use of new media to stay updated on current affairs?



Yahoo! News

  1. lonelyg33k says:

    It is rather subjective innit?
    I doubt Singaporeans have ever experienced flash floods before, not directly in the country,thus the hype and the panic. While other countries like Thailand, the United States and even the neighbouring Indonesia gets disasterous floods practically semi-annually.
    The media tends to play things up, making citizens nervous and panicky, forcing the government to react even more drastically thus more stringent laws? And on the other hand, I am aware of Singaporeans’ tendency to complain about every little thing from the banning of chewing gum to the laws and regulations passed by the government.
    It is rather redundant if you think about it.

    To answer your question, yes and no. I don’t trust newspapers. They are almost always politically motivated to sway your views and opinions… which is the point you might say(I know. I drive myself crazy too). And so far, I’ve always relied on figures (rarely the political ones) to give me the almost-perfect(yet another oxymoron) news feed.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Yeah being so very sheltered from natural disasters, a seemingly harmless flood makes the headlines in Singapore. This is a contributing factor to why the media is putting a lot of pressure on the government with regards to this issue.

      Personally while I think that the newspapers in Singapore is highly accurate, I often turn to alternative sources for other perspectives as well. To me, this strikes a good balance between a politically driven news coverage as well as neutral (or even extreme, just for entertainment) views from citizen journalism.

  2. xoneoa says:

    well i guess it depends on the definition of current affairs. if for example, it meant the locations affected by the flash floods, then yes, i would have no qualms about turning to new media because of the speed at which new developments can be uploaded. however, if current affairs means official announcements, or new govermental policies then i would still rely on more ‘traditional’ forms of media, such as tv broadcasts and newspapers. i feel that while new media is good for news, with regard to ‘news that really matters’, the new media still lacks the credibility of established mediums like newspapers.

    • chris says:

      I feel, however, that a plus point for new media is that they don’t make themselves appear credible. They know they’re not as credible, and so do we, and thus we make a conscious effort to sift out what’s good and what’s not. When we look at traditional media, on the other hand, there is a certain level of expectation that it will be unbiased and comprehensive, which will make us to take most of what they say at face value. Only the discerning ones will look between the lines and see what’s really going on.

      • Rawbeanladen says:

        I agree with xoneoa that the reliability on the use of new media is highly dependent on the type of news updates that we are pursuing. For trivial matters it would seem more acceptable to depend on new media, while when sourcing for accuracy on more serious issues, the official mediums like newspapers will be a better choice.

        Chris also has a point – when looking at new media, we have try to be neutral and sift through what we choose to believe as the source is likely to be somewhat biased. By combining both mass media and new media, I believe that we can obtain accurate news as well has have a taste of different perspectives.

  3. chris says:

    I think a danger that people have to watch out for is an extreme swing to the other end of the spectrum, relying only on online news, and when this happens, they will be bombarded by very anti-government views, as the two major online news sites are the Online Citizen and Temasek Review, and I’ve found them to be pretty biased. While I think the age of paper is soon going to be over, it’s quite encouraging to see how Straits Times have embraced the new media as well. I actually subscribe to ST, TOC, and TR on my Facebook to try and get a more balanced view on the daily news.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      While certain online sources tend to pay allegiance to particular organizations or parties, their slanted perspectives can sometimes be an interesting or even entertaining view. I particularly enjoy their musings, though I do practice careful and selective subscriptions to their views. Technology is a great convenience to our lives, if people don’t manipulate and exploit it to their own benefits.

  4. xianwei says:

    Citizen journalism and social networking sites have certainly resulted in news reaching the masses very fast. This is probably why many dictatorships still have heavy internet censorship.

  5. Ah Civilian Journalism.. The Hallmark of our Generation.
    I believe that although there are people who aren’t really fans of this type of News reporting, it has definitely been a great step in communications in my life.
    In my opinion, anything that affects anyone, even if it is a small group of people, is newsworthy.
    This is why STOMP is so popular amongst Singaporeans. If it affects someone, no matter how ridiculous, someone else out there could be feeling the same way. Even if it is not necessarily enriching, that outlet of expression and discussion is vital for expressive and opinionated Singaporeans who may not always have a chance to be so in real life.
    I am also guilty for having a Twitter account.
    However, i barely tweet, I just follow other accounts, namely CNN and Breaking News.
    If not for Twitter, i am certain that I would not be as up to date with current affairs and other News.
    That is why receiving News through the form of New Media deserves a thumbs-up in my books.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      I share the same sentiments as you! Though citizen journalism is usually biased (as a person’s choice of topic usually affects him and is not neutral), it provides us with a different perspective which may not be available from the mass media.

      As Twitter and blogs are not filtered, the news may sometimes be extremely biased towards the writer’s opinions and agendas; hence, we have to be careful in what we subscribe to. Stomp on the other hand, is filtered by moderators that act as a safety net and that renders the information to be more rational and ‘true’.

      New media is certainly helpful, but we have to be careful in what we choose to believe in.

  6. Angel says:

    More people rely on technology to update themselves with current affairs. Singaporeans normally have a hectic schedule to meet and thus receiving news through the internet would be more ideal as it is more portable and convenient anywhere, anytime. Reading newspaper in an MRT during peak periods will attract unwanted stares too. Have you tried before? I was once TSK by people because my newspaper keep touching the other party!.

    Also, holding up newspaper is troublesome and tiring. My arms will occasionally ache from holding up too long. Luckily i just got my blackberry and i can update myself anywhere and anytime. Such convenience, i would not exchange any newspaper for it!

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      I totally empathize with you and I agree that reading the newspaper (not New Paper, mind you) while on public transport can be inconvenient due to space constraints. Likewise I would prefer reading the news off my mobile phone or netbook if I was in such a situation. You have raised a really relevant point there.

  7. whoami says:

    pretty interesting post about singapore’s flooding
    it is always important for Singaporean to be extra alert and aware of things happening around singapore and not rely on media too much.
    Sometimes, by doing some newspaper reading when you are free on train or bus will actually help you to be more aware of things around us.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Keeping up-to-date on current affairs is definitely something that we should adhere to whenever we can afford the time. Newspapers do provide a good and reliable source of information however I personally find it somewhat troublesome to buy a copy of The Straits Times and bring it out as it is bulky. I’m sure that you have experienced the same as well =)

  8. MissY says:

    the advancement of technology has opened up many sources to deposit information. No longer do we have to solely rely on newspaper nor proper/formal communication channels. With the presence of multiple sources and modes to update real time news, we are able to see the same matter from wider and different perspectives, in multiple sources. Hence, it somehow reduce our sole reliance on politically correct versions of information and bring us out of our myopic view of issues. For e.g. in newspaper/ news channel, voices are only given to people of authority e.g. minsters, high ranking individuals. but in other sources such as stomp, twitter, blog posts, we hear comments and voices concerning “commoners” which are so true but were never published.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      You put my thoughts into words perfectly, and I agree with your statements fully.

      In this technology and media-driven age century, the new media has given us insights into many other different perspectives. No longer do we have to subscribe to only politically driven views (newspapers), but we are also able to air our views with anonymity and this has given many timid voices the courage to broadcast their thoughts.

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