Why Changing Headlines is Bad...
True to form, over the last 2 days, the self-censorship over the Minitor's comments continued to bring out the 'headless-chicken' behaviour at ST. A report carried on Friday (6 November 2009) reported on the China Premier's press briefing before his trip to Singapore and was titled "Controversy is 'normal'", referring to Minitor's earlier comments at an event in the US.
THE recent uproar among Chinese netizens over Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's call for the United States to remain engaged in Asia to balance China is 'normal', the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday.Based on the callousness with which the aforementioned Head of Editorial Systems at SPH makes his observation with regard to taking issue with such senseless changes, it would seem that the ST sees this as part of the journalistic process.
"It is not surprising to see all kinds of comments on his views appearing in the newspapers. That is normal." - Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue
The problem is that changing a headline makes it difficult to trace, hard to cite and is just downright unprofessional. Journalists and media organisations who claim to be credible should research the material thoroughly, make a decision on the text and title, and then stick by it. Changing the material after publication (whether online or otherwise) suggests ineptitude at best - something that an "authoritative provider of news and views" should not be.
Remember the friend who keeps changing his handphone number for god-knows-why? Well, it's equally annoying when today's article cannot be located tomorrow because of the title-change. And just as you would want to slap the friend who justifies the change by saying he liked the new phone number better than the former, frustrated readers are metaphorically slapping the ST's unsavoury behaviour by pointing this out on their blogs.
And since ST is now aware of the 'smoke' (i.e. bloggers "jumping up and down") it should consider putting out the proverbial fire by improving its journalistic integrity rather than be "the most widely read newspaper in Singapore" that only knows how to fan away the smoke.