Mr Miyagi on that Bak Chor Mee podcast and how new and traditional media co-exist
THIS past week saw a flurry of activity in which I was personally involved, together with my blogging and podcasting partner Lee Kin Mun, aka mrbrown (www.mrbrown.com).
We both spoke at the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts’ Public Relations Academy’s annual conference on the topic of new media and how it has affected traditional sources of information.
We didn’t expect the huge response from the press that followed Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang’s speech that morning, where he spoke about adopting a “light touch approach in dealing with the everyday use of the Internet”.
In the event, he also congratulated mrbrown (hey, what about me?) on the “clever and funny work” we did in producing the now infamous “Bak Chor Mee” podcast.
So, what is this “light touch” approach, and how did it affect me as a blogger, podcaster and “general practitioner” of new media?
At the risk of turning this column into a frequently-asked-questions section for the many press interview requests that we have had this week, here are some of my thoughts on the matter, and more importantly, these thoughts are my own opinion, and I do not presume to speak for other netizens.
How did the ban on podcasting during the elections affect bloggers?
Contrary to popular belief, there was NO general ban on podcasting during the hustings â€” there was only a prohibition on electioneering with podcasts. Neither was there a ban on political commentary on blogs or websites or audio and video podcasting.
There were people who stayed away from commenting online on the elections during the hustings, such as “Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma” (commentarysingapore.blog-spot.com).
Was Internet discussion biased against the ruling party?
Yes it was, quite clearly, which I think supports the call for people associated with the ruling party to engage in Internet discussion. The blog SGRally (sgrally.blogspot.com), did make a few requests for video footage of PAP rallies, but received none.
Will new media trump traditional media?
Many people think that because new media is subject to fewer restrictions than traditional sources of information such as the print press and broadcasters, it would trump traditional media in terms of the speed of propagating information, and with that, the revenue from advertising dollars.
However, I don’t think a blogs and podcasts are in competition with traditional media.
As Ms Margaret Thomas, director of special duties, MediaCorp Ltd, told the audience at the PR Academy’s conference, there is no competition. After all, MediaCorp Press pays for this column as well as mrbrown’s on Fridays.
There is a role for both forms of media (even though I personally dislike the dichotomy), and both will continue to co-exist â€” although sometimes not as harmoniously as one would like.
Were we afraid after making the Bak Chor Mee podcast?
Yes, we were afraid our listeners wouldn’t find it funny. And no, we weren’t afraid of any “touch” from any authority because we were very certain that we didn’t break any electioneering regulations. And besides, we poked fun in a non-partisan way.
There was never any attempt to make a political statement, and I agree wholeheartedly that humour shouldn’t be used to mask serious issues.
So, what is the lighter touch?
Someone told me that a “light touch with a big hammer is not as effective as a light touch with a small one”.
While I am not about to delve into the meaning of Dr Lee’s statement, it is interesting that United Kingdom-based PR consultant, Mr Niall Cook, who also spoke at the conference, said that if we were to replace the word “blogger” with the word “people”, some of the sometimes-alarming comments made about blogs and their authors would sound unrealistic.
This, I agree with wholeheartedly.
Blogs are merely a medium of expression, and to talk about them is akin to talking about what type of paper you are using to write your thoughts on.
So, you could say, the lighter touch is one to be applied on people in general, and not specific to blogs, podcasts and other forms of online publication.
Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been merely entertaining readers at miyagi.sg for over two years, and is not an authority on any form of online publication in Singapore.