Singapore Election 2011: It’s Shit Like This, Straits Times

Have a look at this montage (created by Crikey.com.au) of yesterday’s front pages from across the world. Every single newspaper has bin Laden above the fold, except for two. One – the Times of Oman – has a puff-piece about “His Majesty’s directive to set up [a] new university”. The other: take a bow, Straits Times …

PAP’s goal is a better life for all: PM

…because feel-good coverage of the PM’s election pitch is obviously bigger news than, y’know, OSAMA BIN CLOBBERED.

The article itself is rather interestingly written, too. It doesn’t appear to be online (if someone’s got a link to it, let me know), so here’s the first paragraph in full, unabridged:

The policies of the People’s Action Party (PAP) aim to create a better life for the broad swathe of Singaporeans, including the middle-income, and it will do more to help Singaporeans secure a better future.

Aside from the glaring grammatical error (“the broad swathe” should be “a broad swathe”), this graf reads to me as a shameless plug for the ruling PAP. At the very least, it’s terrible writing and makes the ST look biased in a way that doesn’t befit Singapore’s newspaper of record.

The second paragraph does give some context, though:

This was the assurance from PAP secretary-general and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as the campaign for General Election 2011 entered its sixth day.

…and then it drops straight back into hagiography, rattling off PM Lee’s promise to revisit the income ceiling for government-subsidised housing.

The Straits Times has a reputation as being fairly nakedly pro-government – a reputation that, while hard-earned, is no longer entirely fair. Their coverage of this year’s election, especially via their online platform, has been comprehensive and reasonably balanced, refraining from taking pot-shots at anyone (they’ve left that to the politicians themselves). Their report on PM Lee’s speech today – in which he basically begged for forgiveness from the electorate for screwing up the housing cost and immigration issues – is straight-up-and-down reportage, and their coverage of the opposition parties has been fair in tone, if not as voluminous as their PAP coverage.

But running articles like this above the fold (and pitching them as “more important than Osama bin Laden”) does nothing to improve their reputation. Shame, ST.

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