Thursday, March 29, 2007

QotW9: The Power to Change

To my knowledge, before Straits Times Online Mobile Print (STOMP) and blogging came about, the only way people could practice citizen journalism was by writing in to the local newspapers in response to articles written by professional journalists. One common example would be that of The Straits Times, under the Home section, under the header Forum. It was here, and still is, where citizens can discuss a certain article with others, expressing their views and opinions. It wasn't really a convenient medium, and only people who had relatively good writing and thinking skills had the opportunity to participate in it. Citizen journalism was in a sense, limited only to those who had the makings of professional journalists.

Since then, with the further advancement of technology, blogging has emerged to be the choice medium for citizen journalists to express their views to others. It didn't matter if you were educated or not, a good writer or a boring one. Apart from those who had no access to a computer and the Internet, everyone else had an equal chance of being a citizen journalist. Likewise, STOMP rode on the waves of technology to promote this mainly through the three platforms of print, online, and mobile. Their aim is to "provide readers with new avenues to express themselves, to enable them to interact with us, and among themselves" (About Us, 2006).

While STOMP may be a great medium for Singaporeans to collaborate as a community and practice citizen journalism, the fact remains that citizen journalism has been going on in personal blogs even before STOMP's conception. However, the power of citizen journalism was limited to the number of people who knew where to find your blog. What makes STOMP an ideal form of citizen journalism is that it provides a common platform for like-minded people to meet and share information. You are immediately plugged into a virtual community where your voice can be heard by an audience. People are informed of minor details that the local newspapers sometimes fail to report, and the power of citizen journalism to fill up the missing gaps and holes can be experienced in this respect.

In my opinion, STOMP has done an excellent job in making us aware that citizen journalism can be done by just about anyone. However, I feel that we fail to recognize the real power of citizen journalism to bring about change. Merely having an audience and a means of reaching out to them may not be enough. Gillmor (2004) urges the government to listen to the people, just as journalists need to listen to their audience. Similarly, what could be done by STOMP, would be to facilitate and empower us to have a voice that can be heard not only by fellow community members, but also by the people who have the power to bring about change in this country. In the true sense of the word democracy, we the citizens of Singapore, could and should have the power to bring about change that benefits us and the generations to come.


About Us (2006). Retrieved March 29, 2007 from

Gillmor, D. (2004). We the People: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from

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