Tonight’s Talking Point was quite a watershed in many ways. If you missed the fun and fireworks, catch it from Breakfast Network’s live tweet, or wait for catch-up TV or something. (NOTE: I must declare that I write for Breakfast Network. Yes. Biased.) Ex-SPH journo Bertha Henson, Prof Arun Mahiznan and Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin try to talk about the MDA licensing scheme. Notice I said “try”.
It was more like Prof Arun framing the issues, Bertha asking pointed questions, and Chuan-Jin dancing around the limits of what he could say for about an hour.
Tan Chuan-Jin spoke on behalf of someone else’s ministry for a licensing decision he wasn’t part of (that didn’t go through parliament). He spent an hour repeating MDA’s press release in many creative forms (nice work, sir), never giving a shred more information than what was already available. 10 points for creativity; one for content.
One great quote to take away: “The regulations deals (sic) with news sites; it doesn’t encompass blogs. But would some blogs become news sites, evolve into news sites? That something we would need to look at.”
Yeah. That’s EXACTLY why I don’t give a flying hoot what Yaacob Ibrahim says about blogs not coming under the licensing – the wording of the regulation is so broad that any blog could conveniently “evolve” into a news site at the G’s discretion (and, presumably, convenience).
Anyhoo, the big winner of the night was clearly Bertha Henson, the editor of fledgling online news site Breakfast Network. She showed her journalist’s mettle by asking all the right (and difficult) questions. You don’t spend 26 years as an SPH journo/editor without skills like that.
As far as I can tell, local bloggers are giving her performance the big thumbs up, with kudos from the likes of Kirsten Han. This is what the Internet needs more of – good, trained journalists unshackled by needless regulations. A variety of expert reporting voices from across the spectra. It’s not going to be just Bertha and Breakfast Network, of course, but one doesn’t pick up 26 years of journalism skills from nowhere.
What we don’t need is another bunch of rules and legislation to ham-fist the “right” thing to write, or read or report on. It’s time to grow, mature and hone our skills.
To build a more responsible, professional online community, you can sign this petition to indicate your opposition to MDA’s new licensing regulations. Responsibility, not spoon-feeding.
To join our Internet blackout, you can redirect your blog/site to http://www.freemyinternet.com for 24 hours on 6 June (0000 – 2359).
Finally, there will be the protest at Hong Lim Park, 8 June, 4.00pm – 7.00pm.