It’s not a generalisation to say that most Singaporeans, local born and bred, English-educated and old enough to read would have, at minimum, a nodding acquaintance with the Straits Times which celebrates its 167th anniversary this month.
As a result of this, it won’t be a generalisation either to say that most of such Singaporeans would have a love-hate relationship with the ST, in particular those who, at one time or another, needed the paper to give them some print space via a write-p or two or three. And hadn’t been so obliged
Hence, even long be4 the Internet age, there would always be someone ready to gripe about the grande dame of a newspaper. These gripes have since increased in volume — as in loudness and amount with the advent of cyberspace.
Worse whenever the newspaper finds itself in something of an accuracy pickle Not surprising, when the Straits Times prides itself first and foremost as a newspaper of record, woo-hoo!
So not surprisingly, in recent weeks, it’s received something of a bashing for its less than stellar performance relating to the SMRT moving train with “unshut door” variety. Then the newspaper had to compound itself last Sunday with the gawd awful mess that apparently came from autospell-checks performed on autopilot.
No wonder an old hand with the newspaper — who left the group a few months ago — was gleefully dancing over her ex-employer’s graveyard of mistakes in this post. Still, who can blame her when even a total stranger (I assume) like Gigamole was similarly aghast and appalled by the Sunday Times spellcheck fiasco
Yet those with longer memories shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised that newspapers, even — or especially– the ST, can’t avoid making errors of judgement and/or fact.
What should be more surprising is that bad mistakes at the newspaper weren’t always evenly dealt with — whatever the Bertha Harian blog may claim – a credible once-upon-a-time insider reminded me.
I vaguely remember that ghastly ”incident” though not all the internal follow-ups, probably because my secret pipeline to the ST newsroom ain’t always reliable. Or I plain forgot, cos well what happened there isn’t really my business!
Anyways, my informant’s memory refreshed by the latest round of errors said that contrary to what BH claims in its post, “not all journos suffer from having made mistakes.”
Referring to the first-ever book sale by the National Library several years ago, said informant gave me this account.
1) Informant’s informant (II) was editing the book sale story but the reporter who wrote the story didn’t “check-line” (ie indicating that the facts are accurate).
2) II couldn’t find anything in the ST’s files and couldn’t get hold of the writer or the National Libabry. (Those were the days be4 the the uibiquitous mobile and probably even be4 the pager).
3) II checked with the reporter’s supervisor whether the story could be held over for double confirmation the following day but the supervisor decided to let it through.
4) The stuff hit the ceiling the next day as the dates were incorrect and the whole of the ST newsroom had to rush down to the book sales venue bearing gifts for the hundreds who turned up, to placate them.
5) Although II’s own supervisor tried to pin the blame on II, II had all the internal email exchange with the reporter’s supervisor to back II’s position.
6) Still came year end, II didn’t get a service increment whereas the supervisor who had given the go-ahead for a story that hadn’t been double-confirmed was promoted.
Moral of the story? Journalists, unlike doctors, live with their mistakes. And some journalists live better with their mistakes than others.
End of story.