Thomas Jefferson once said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." And never before in history, have newspapers faced such a crisis as they are facing now. With the advent of internet and gross commercialisation of journalism, someone somewhere missed the point. While critics are calling the mainstream media "simply stenographers to power", journalists themselves are facing something more than a moral dilemma. The thin line that once existed between perception and reality, editorial and advertisement, truth and half-truths, and news and views, is sadly diminishing. That's why 'Newzzit - news as it is' is being launched.
The story started few years back when I was about to give up my quest of pursuing human-oriented people-centred journalism. Then as a ray of hope, P Sainath – the last few remaining stalwarts of socially-driven old-school journalism in India, advised me not to give up and use the voices of ordinary people to tell their stories. His words of not getting discouraged by the corporatist mainstream media and pursue issues worth pursuing have stayed with me always. This fortnightly e-newspaper from Singapore is a culmination of that journey and start of another.
Newzzit's goal is to take journalism back to where it belongs – to the readers. Even the decision to pay for the newspaper is up to our readers. Every issue is priced at one Singapore dollar but the content is not locked. It is for our readers to decide whether they want to read Newzzit for free or pay $1 for it. Our business model is advertisement-free and is solely based on revenue generated by the readership.
The inaugural issue
We start with something “Uniquely Singapore”, where protest rallies on local bread-and-butter issues attract far less numbers than gay rights rallies. This when Singapore is not alone in having such a law. Laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults remain on the statute books in more than 70 countries – according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
From here, we move on to the anti-natalist and pro-natalist campaigns in Singapore. It's the city-state's journey from too many to too few babies every year.
We then relive one of the darkest chapters in Singapore's history, the Sook Ching massacre, and reflect on the country's bereavement industry landscape.
We also report on the racial divide witnessed in the recently concluded Malaysian elections and contrast it to the constitutional protection given to minorities in Singapore. In our third world section, we report on the massive defeat suffered by the ruling DPT government in Bhutan due to large number of anti-incumbency votes.
Finally, we report on the recent racist attacks in the Nordic countries. When comparing Singapore and Scandinavia, one important factor that needs to be looked at is the homogeneity of Nordic nations. How their widely publicised economic success handles increasing heterogeneity remains to be seen.
Be it Bhutan or the Nordic nations, probably no socio-economic model can be emulated in toto anywhere else. The answer lies in finding local solution to global problems. Our effort is to look at both sides of the debate, try to separate facts from the rhetoric, and leave it to Singaporeans to decide their future growth model.