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SPH editor on independent news outlets in Singapore: there’s a market for stories that are not fact-checked

Patrick Daniel talking at the World Association of Newspapers conference in Hong Kong today

Patrick Daniel at the WAN-IFRA event in Hong Kong

Patrick Daniel, the editor-in-chief of English and Malay newspapers for the Straits Times publisher Singapore Press Holdings, said yesterday that while independent news sites in Singapore “have their audience”, they serve people who are less interested in credible news.

“If you [independent news sites in Singapore] want to bash out a story without checking facts, there is a market for that. But that’s not our market,” he told Mumbrella at the World Association of Newspapers conference yesterday.

“They have their audience and we have ours. All power to them,” he said. “We have our audience to serve, and we have to do as good a job as we can.”

“The online publishing space is wide, and we can’t be all things to everyone. So we just have to know who our audience is and be the trusted source of information.”

Daniel’s comments came on the say day as he defended SPH’s gossip site STOMP, which has come under fire for publishing false stories. There is currently a campaign running to close the site down.

Daniel also answered Mumbrella’s question about rising competition from international news outlets such as The Guardian, which is considering launching in Asia, and BuzzFeed, which is looking at Singapore as an option to set up a regional hub in Asia, and has been hiring investigative journalists to boost its news offering.

“Our strength is that we know our town best, it’s our territory. We have far more resources [than international competitors] to throw at a story locally,” Daniel said.

“Mail Online could come to Singapore and The Guardian could come, and they’d produce maybe one story a fortnight. But we will be here everyday.”

However, competition is something that “we all have to get used to”, he conceded.

Singapore Press Holdings has long enjoyed a limited competitive environment, with MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper being the only English language rival to the Straits Times, the country’s best-read news source.

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