My typical Sunday morning involves sitting in one of the cafes on Mohamed Sultan Road, demolishing a coffee and leafing through whatever reading material happens to be lying around. Usually I go to the Book Cafe, which (joy of joys) has The Times, the NYT, and the Sydney Morning Herald in its stacks.
Today, though, I’m at Delicatessen – which has much better coffee (and a truly great ham-and-omelette croissant), but doesn’t have international newspapers. And that’s how I found myself reading the Sunday edition of the Straits Times, and pondering just how useless a newspaper can be.
The ST is not a joy to read. It’s a simulacrum of a newspaper. It has the external phenotypes of a newspaper – paper, ink, occasional smudging on your fingers. But it doesn’t print any actual news.
If you leave out the Xinhua-AFP-AP-sourced stories from China and Myanmar, here’s today’s ST news:
- Page 1: The Government has made seatbelts compulsory on new minibuses;
- Page 2: Miss Singapore Universe has been dropped from TV due to poor ratings;
- Page 3: Selfless mother who saved two kids from runaway truck now in stable condition;
- Page 4: Immigrant workers locked out of their workplace after landlord fails to pay rent;
- Page 6: What do Singaporeans do when they drive? Eating, shaving, kissing… [ed note: this is why I don’t own a car]
- Page 17: Foreign Minister George Yeo says “we must respect the autonomy of countries [read: Myanmar] and accept the fact that they know local situations better than foreign people ever can”. O RLY?
This article from Imagethief, a blog written by an American PR professional now living in China, does a great job of explaining the ST (and a lot of other newspapers in Asia). He also has some great tales of launching a software company in Singapore, back in the roaring 90s.
Update: I went back and corrected the quote from esteemed Foreign Minister George Yeo (and corrected his name as well, sorry about that, George buddy). Another money quote from Mr. Yeo:
“I don’t see how [force-feeding aid to Myanmar] can be done because if we try to do that, it will only make the situation worse and will increase the suffering of the people in Myanmar.”
Hmm. Given that only 20% of the survivors have received any aid so far (according to the United Nations, and the NYT article linked above), JRE has to respectfully disagree.