Readership figures: Do Singaporeans have a choice ?
Straits Times keeps No.1 spot, drawing 1.35 million readers
The Straits Times has pulled in 30,000 more readers to its news offerings this year that last year in a world that has seen declining newspaper readership.
It retained top spot as the favorite daily in Singapore with 1.35 million readers this year, up from last year's 1.32 million.
Its editor Han Fook Kwang, calling this "very good news", said: "Readership is failing in many newspapers round the world because news is available free on the Internet, on TV and on radio."
TODAY 20 October 2006
Without qualifiers, TODAY is Singapore's No 2 daily
Tabloid-sized TODAY continues to defy naysayers into its sixth year of being.
According to the Nielsen Media Research's annual survey released yesterday, the free newspaper moved up to become Singapore's second most-read daily - regardless of language - as consumers defected from the Chinese to the English media. (Read more...)
In a market where the print media industry is monopolized completely by a single company - the Singapore Press Holdings, such rankings of readership figures serve little useful purpose other than an internal QC of the chief editors of the various dailies.
Do Singaporeans have a choice? Given the absence of variable alternatives, Singaporeans have no where else to turn except the mainstream media for their daily news. Only by topping the readership charts in a free market with real competitors can the Straits Times claim to be the most popular newspaper read by a majority of Singaporeans.
Are readership figures alone an accurate reflection of the success of a newspaper? Without the inclusion of other parameters such as report authencity and objectivity, press freedom and quality of analyzes, this figure is meaningless and cannot be used as a barometer for press rating.
Singaporeans read the newspapers for a variety of reasons. We depend on it entirely for local news, financial reports and announcement of new policies from the government that affect our daily lives which aren't reported elsewhere.
In other words, we have no choice but to read it. Reading it just for information does not necessarily mean we are satisfied with the quality of reporting. And certainly it does not translate to trust and respect for our journalists.
The comment by Mr Han seems to imply that SPH has managed to face off the challenge posed by the alternative media as evident by the increased in readership enjoyed by both the Straits Times and TODAY for the past one year.
However, this does not tell us if the alternative media is increasing in popularity. The hidden mesage inherent appears to be: the alternative media lacks credibility and the majority of Singaporeans do not support it. To a reader who is not familar with the alternative media, he will be led to have pre-conceived notions of it.
In order to have a complete picture, we need to have the following information:
1. What is the readership trend among young Singaporeans aged 15 to 39?
2. Of those who read the Straits Times, how many follow up by reading news reported on the internet as well?
3. What are the readers' rating on the different segments of news reporting such as local news, political commentaries, international news coverage, sports and life section?
SPH should solicit feedback from Singaporeans, which are ultimately its customers on how they rate their printed dailies in the following areas: coverage of local politics and current affairs, commentaries on government policies, and provision of objective, balanced and comprehensive views and let us judge for ourselves instead of the usual self-appraisal to paint a beautiful picture.
Lacking such crucial information, readership alone is not representative of the true sentiments of the general population. The verdict is still out for the Straits Times and TODAY.
What are your views? Do you think the Straits Times and TODAY are increasing in popularity among Singaporeans? Will the alternative media such as online news and blogs like ours have any impact on the mainstream media's monopoly on information?
Please share with us your views here!