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TODAY reporters banned from government briefings for repeatedly breaking embargoes

One of TODAY's embargo-busting stories

One of TODAY’s embargo-busting stories

Journalists from Singapore’s second-largest circulating newspaper, TODAY, have been banned from attending government press briefings for repeatedly breaking embargoes.

The ban – which Mumbrella understands will be in place for a month starting from today – will mean that the MediaCorp-owned paper could miss out on important technical briefings around the budget, which is one of the biggest media events of the year. Around half of the local news that runs in TODAY comes from government announcements at events.

The Ministry of Communications and Information confirmed the ban with Mumbrella this afternoon over the phone, as did a government communications officer working in another department.

But the MCI later said that the veto would not stand and there had been a “miscommunication”. An email from MCI to Mumbrella read: “MCI has sent a letter of censure to TODAY for repeatedly breaking embargoes but TODAY has not been banned from attending government events.”

However, Mumbrella understands that TODAY journalists have been told that they are not permitted to attend government events for embargoed news by the paper’s management.

Another source has said that MCI had put in place a full ban on all TODAY reporters even for non-embargoed news, but the ministry lightened its stance after Mumbrella got in contact to make enquiries earlier today.

According to MCI, the “letter of censure” requests that TODAY reviews its practices for managing embargoes to ensure breaches do not happen again.

The stories published by TODAY that breached embargoes included an article about rising fares on public transport, with the reporter contacting people to ask for comment before the embargo time, and a story about a cabinet reshuffle.

There were a total of four stories that broke embargoes that prompted the MCI to respond, Mumbrella understands.

TODAY has a circulation of around 300,000, and is second only to the Straits Times as Singapore’s best-read newspaper. TODAY is 60 per cent owned by MediaCorp, and 40 per cent owned by Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes the Straits Times.

MediaCorp, which announced a large company restructure today, declined to comment on the news.

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