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The Real Singapore was not about accuracy or credibility but shareability, says The Online Citizen editor Terry Xu

The Real Singapore

The Real Singapore, founded in 2012, closed in 2015

The editor of The Online Citizen said today that The Real Singapore, a rival socio-political news and opinion website that was shut by the government earlier this year, was not in the business of accuracy or credibility but “shareability”.

The Real Singapore was ordered to close by the Media Development Authority (MDA) earlier this year after being found guilty of publishing inflammatory, racist articles to boost traffic.

“Accuracy and credibility was not their game – it was shareability,” said Terry Xu, editor of The Online Citizen, at the Singapore Digital Publishers Summit yesterday.

The Real Singapore had built a large online readership that was a match for the Straits Times in size by using this approach, Xu noted.

Terry Xu (pictured left), Jacky Yap and Bertha Henson at Singapore Digital Publishers Summit

Terry Xu (pictured left), Jacky Yap and Bertha Henson at Singapore Digital Publishers Summit

The Online Citizen covered the demise The Real Singapore, and featured a number of pieces that opposed its closure, including the reposting of an opinion piece by blogger Alex Au headlined ‘In the real Singapore, MDA is the greater evil’.

FreeMyInternet, a press freedom group co-founded by TOC and other bloggers, stated at the time: “While not all of us might necessarily agree with TRS’s editorial direction or content, what TRS is alleged to have done is no reason for MDA to force a shutdown on the site.”

The Real Singapore is now believed to operate out of Australia under a different name, States Times Review. The site was originally named Straits Times Review, but changed its name to avoid legal confrontation with the Straits Times’ owner Singapore Press Holdings.

Xu was on a panel with Bertha Henson, the consulting editor of rival independent news website The Middle Ground, and Vulcan Post MD Jacky Yap.

The duo were faced by a harsh comment from a delegate at the event, who said Singapore’s online media had “looked like fools” in how they covered the elections, and had come to resemble entertainment sites. Both took issue with the comment, adding that they had been working with limited resources.

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