New Media is the future to mass communication?

Lim Guohao

The new media communications revolution is changing every facet of our lives. Unlike traditional mediums such as newspapers, TV and the radio, new media allows a two-way flow of communication whereby users can comment, judge, discuss and share contents uploaded on the Internet effortlessly and instantaneously, using both named and anonymous identities.

Media practitioner Moussly (2011) has also pointed out that readers of the present news generation are not just purely active producers of the repurposed contents, they are also “capable of physically capturing events the corporate media might or choose to miss, in times of crisis” (¶ 8).

Furthermore, given the features of anonymity, timeliness, and high interactivity, new media is able to grant us greater freedom of speech and power to influence, which will allow it play a crucial role in the dissemination of contents in future.

A prime example to illustrate how new media was used as a vital communication tool, would be the recent Tunisia incident.

It was reported by Al Jazeera, the most influential Arabic news network, that the Tunisians were making use of social media networks like Youtube and blogs to hold protests over the dramatic death of a university student, whose actions were believed to be driven by the chaotic political situation in Tunisia.

Not only that, live coverage of protests and speeches, were made possible with the aid of such social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter groups were also created to keep the thousands of participants updated about the developments and mobility for subsequent actions (Miladi, 2011).

Such efforts then attracted international media attention, and followed by strong international public opinions, which propelled the local government to swiftly kick-start development projects to improve the country’s devastating situation.

Hence, from the case of Tunisia, we can see that new media has been an effective tool in raising global awareness of a dire situation, which ultimately led to a solution.

Similarly, in the context of Singapore, new media can be used as a communication tool between the government and its people, especially for the implementation of new regulations and policies. The set-up of the Facebook group “Reach Singapore” represents the government’s significant efforts to gather public opinions.

Some examples are the discussions on the recent property cooling measures and the Bill on re-employment of Older Workers. People are able to comment or provide constructive feedback about these issues through web texts and video discussions with the Parliament members in the mentioned social media sites.

In addition, the government is also allowing political videos and campaign materials for the coming General Elections to be published online. The Facebook group “Vote for change, Vote the PAP out” which attracted near to 7,000 members within a short time, has once again proved the strong influential powers new media has on the general public (Tan, 2010).

The effectiveness of New Media is better enhanced through a recent research by Nielsen (2011) that more than half of the Singapore population is actively participating in at least one social media platform in their daily lives (Shafawi, 2011).

Thus, with such high penetration rates, it is believed that the new media could create a “network effect”, fostering bonding and trust among the authorities and the people through intensive web interactions (Lievrouw & Livingstone, 2002).

However, sociologists argued that the abundance of digital data might cause the problem of information overload. A study conducted over Yahoo have presented that 70% of the respondents admit to spending valuable hours sifting through less-credible or irrelevant contents (Miller, 2009).

As a frequent web user, I do encounter such situations. However, such problems can be resolved by questioning ourselves whether the sources we use have any underlying motives, or if the organization has any affiliations with the government or the opposing party.

More importantly, as responsible new media users, we should selectively draw out information from these websites to counter-check with other available sources to ensure the reliability of the news.

With these steps in place, it will further strengthen the credibility of the Internet, allowing it to become a better source of information and research.

In sum, the prospects of new media are clear. As we enter an era that places great emphasis on freedom of speech, I do believe that new media, given its unique characteristics, will overpower the traditional media, and eventually become the biggest factor of communication in time to come.


Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Global Issues: Singapore Perspectives.

Should R21 movies be allowed in neighbourhood cinemas?

Lim Guohao

Film classification in Singapore first began in 1991, where films are being rated into three categories (G, PG, and R18) under a single-tier censorship system, based on the film’s sexual, political, racial and religious contents. As times improve, there is a higher demand for more choices to the movies shown in Singapore, thus more classification categories, such as PG13, NC16, M18 and R21 are introduced to provide a varied and informed choice for the consumers, as well as to uphold the social values and national interests.

However, as technology and globalization permits, young consumers can now obtain restricted contents from the Internet easily, which leads many to argue that censorship in Singapore should be relaxed since it has become less effective in controlling contents young consumers are exposed to nowadays. One of the suggestions is to allow R21 movies to be shown in neighbourhood cinemas. However, I feel that R21 should continue to be disallowed in these neighbourhood cinemas as these places are highly populated with young consumers, and that easy accessibility to these places may seem to encourage them to view these contents. More importantly, neighbourhood cinemas are supposed to be family-orientated, where contents shown are of suitable for all ages.

Currently, Singapore is encouraging a media environment that is of a co-regulation approach, in which more social responsibilities is passed down to the media players, parents and individual consumers. However, I feel that the public is not ready to welcome a media environment that is of great freedom given the followings:

Firstly, when responsibilities are passed on to the media players, many do not practice high frequency checks at cinema entrances or at ticketing box offices. Not only that, there are also no mitigating measures to prevent any underage consumers from buying tickets via the online or phone booking system. Besides, because of the non-standardized procedures for checks, young consumers who are mature in looking may be able to go by the loopholes and find ways to sneak into the cinemas to watch these restricted contents.

Moreover, from 1995, the then Board of Film Censors had delivered a severe verbal warning to several cinemas after they found that ushers at some places did not check the ages of some patrons, who could have been minors, before admitting them to restricted movies. From then, movie operators are required to foot a $20,000 security deposit for an annual licence in order to exhibit R21, M18 and NC16 films, and should they breach the terms, their licence and deposit will be forfeited. Such implementations are still valid till now, and this shows that cinemas have yet to come out with a complete solution into dealing such cases.

Thus, by disallowing R21 movies in neighbourhood cinemas, it will prevent more cases of unwanted access of young consumers to restricted movie contents.

Secondly, for the public’s responses, given the CRC report 2010 survey results, 57% of the respondents are in support to retain the ban for R21 movies in neighbourhood cinemas. Focus groups, consisting of industry representatives and the public majorly are also in favour of retaining the R21 ban in neighbourhood cinemas. Moreover, in Singapore, we observe that there are growing households which having both parents to work in the day, this in turn restricts the ability of them to control their kids from monitoring what movies they are watching in the cinemas during after-school hours, especially those which are near schools. Thus, we see that parental controls are still limited and that the R21 ban policy is able to act as a “media gatekeeper” in which it limits the contents young consumers can get within their easy reach.

As for individual consumers, especially the young, curiosity may be an encouraging factor for them to challenge the policy since these channels are made readily available to them. More importantly, as we know that the media is able to educate and influence, learning from the magic bullet theory and cultivation theory, the audience will absorb the information given passively and may cultivate the ideas shown through repeated emphasis. Thus, when young audience get exposed to movies that portray sexual, racial, religious or even non-mainstream messages like “Sita sings the blue” and “Lust Caution” and “Brokeback Mountain”, they may not be able to decipher between reality and the story plots, which will cultivate in their minds that these acts are acceptable by the public, which is otherwise in reality. Thus, to upload national social values such as “Family as the basic unit of society” and “Racial and religious harmony”, R21 movies should be kept far from young consumers’ daily reach.

Though many may argue that modern technology may enable young consumers to retrieve contents that are restricted by the government easily, however, retaining the policies, especially R21 movies to be disallowed in neighbourhood cinemas, continues to act as a powerful message to the consumers, informing them of what are the behaviours or beliefs that are inappropriate in Singapore. Unless the media players and parents are able to work hand in hand to protect the interests of young, policies such as retaining the R21 ban in neighbourhood cinemas should stay.

Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Media Ethics, Law and Policy.


林国豪 报道

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Should the symbolic 100-website ban be lifted?

Lim Guohao

In the Year 2010 Censorship Review Committee Report (CRC Report), the Committee recommended that the symbolic 100-website ban imposed by the government should be lifted.

The local government practices a light-touch approach to the Internet regulation in Singapore since July 1996, where users do not require prior approval from MDA to operate a website. However, a 100-website ban was introduced in the 1990s, where the government bans websites that contains mainly pornographic contents, or sites that incite racial and religious intolerance, as a symbol to reflect the community’s stand against objectionable web content and social values.

Many argued that the policy is losing its effectiveness as the Internet is overflowing with excessive information at a rapid rate in which the government may find it hard to control.  However, I feel that the 100-website ban should stay as the policy continues to serve as an important message to the public in regards to non-mainstream ideals or culture. More so, adapting from the Cultivation theory, users, under the intense media usage, will also be cultivated with standardized and acceptable behaviors in Singapore.

Currently, Singapore is encouraging a media environment that fosters 3-prong social responsibility approach, in which more responsibilities are passed down to the media players, parents and individual consumers. However, I feel that the public is not ready to welcome a media environment that is of total-freedom given the followings:

Firstly, when responsibilities were passed down to the media players previously through the recommendation for more Internet content filters, such services were inadequately promoted and the relevant products produced by the media players were minimal. Also, given the survey conducted by the CRC, over 60% of the households with children are not aware of such filters available from the Internet providers, which are Singtel and Starhub.

Furthermore, given the Internet as a targeted medium, the Internet media players did not take the initiative to practice self-censorship by instilling restriction or verification measures to cater to the different needs of the various age groups.

Thus, we can see that the media players are not ready to welcome a total-freedom Internet environment that requires high level of censorship.

Secondly, the public, or more so the parents themselves, felt that they are not ready to take up the full responsibility in controlling the contents the young are accessing on the Internet. In the CRC report survey, 67% of the respondents supported retaining the policy, and 38% of them even recommend the authorities to expand the scope in order to cover more websites for ban. In Singapore, we can observe that there are growing households which having both parents to work in the day, this in turn restricts the ability of them to control their kids from accessing inappropriate contents from the web.   Another reason would be, there are still parents who are not technology-inclined, and they find it impossible to set computer barriers for their kids. Thus, given the lack of cyber wellness knowledge of parents, the policy would be a more effective approach in instilling social values amongst the young.

As for the individual consumers, cyber awareness is still lacking among the users, especially the young, as we see more than 20,000 cyber crime cases per year in Singapore (22,711 in 2005; 19,522 in 2007, Singapore Department of Statistics, 2008). Such figure is worrying, as it ranks Singapore second in the Internet crime rates globally. Not only that, we see a shift in how consumers consume media contents nowadays, 71.8% of the users aged 15-17 interviewed in the CRC survey only viewed contents online, in comparison to nearly 20% in 2007. Given such high penetration rates, tighter governmental controls should be in place to ensure that the “gatekeeper” role is well performed.

Thus, to ensure that the 3-prong censorship approach is effective, we must ensure that all the media players, the individuals and the government work hand in hand, and that the public does not just rely on the government to do the job. However, given current local trends as mentioned above, I feel that public is not ready to welcome such total-freedom Internet environment. Thus, despite the foreseen increased costs, governmental controls, such as the 100-website ban, should stay as it continues to serve as an important tool to convey the stand of the mass public with regards to sensitive issues. However, tighter controls such as forming Internet police squads like what Australia has been doing, and expanding the website ban coverage could be done. More importantly, more public education on cyber wellness should be conducted through the means of seminars; interactive activities or TV shows to educate the public on potential Internet risks, in order to progress towards the aim of achieving a total-freedom Internet environment.

Moreover, governments from all around the world are concerned about how to protect the young Internet users from objectionable content. Even in the free media of Korea, a network securitycommitteewas set up to monitorthe objectionable information.Thus, the 100-website ban should stay, and together with more mitigating measures, it will aid in shaping the norm social values amongst the young web users, and that they are denied from undesirable materials.


Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Media Ethics, Law and Policy.


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这个网站还提供什么服务?到 omy《青春》看全文!
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强制本地学生 读中国4大名著?

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Black Mirror: 2010年解剖人性的剧集

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Black Mirror一共分为3集,每集大约1小时。首集名为《天佑吾主》,说的是某国家首相Michael Callow(罗里·金奈尔饰)在熟睡中被一通紧急电话震醒,后得知皇室成员Susannah公主遭人劫持,但绑匪提出的条件,不是大笔赎金,也不是要求解放人质,而是….让首相受到全世界的屈辱。他必须和一头母猪发生性行为,以尝试拯救公主。


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最终,Michael Callow与猪只发生了性行为,公主也“获救”。但其实,她早在首相“履行承诺”时被释放,,而肇祸的当地著名的艺术家也自尽,并证实了手指属于他,但干案动机永远不明。

1年过去,公主有了身孕,在镜头面前和丈夫大秀恩爱。Michael Callow也在媒体采访时,和妻子表现亲热。但是,回到家中才发现是“貌合神离”。