AMERICAN journalist and photographer John Stuart who resides in Singapore and reads The Straits Times regularly wrote to me last month to criticise ST's decision in publishing pictures of dying or dead victims. He cited the front page pictures ST published about a fatally wounded Egyptian police general being carried away following a bomb blast in Cairo on April 3, as well as an earlier photograph of American ambassador Christopher Stevens who died in the terrorist attack against the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya on Sept 11, 2012. Mr Stuart also wondered whether ST practised double standards by publishing such pictures when the victims are foreigners but not when they are Singaporeans. Mr Stuart's view was a welcome addition to the regular discussions newsroom editors in ST conduct in assessing the paper's policy in publishing content, including photographs. It prompted the two line editors who supervise the publication of pictures in the paper to describe ST's picture editing guidelines. - Readers' ed.
CAPTION: ST wasn't the only major newspaper which thought it important to publish a Page One picture of ill-fated US Ambassador Christopher Stevens who died in the terror attack on his embassy in Benghazi, Libya two years ago. Major and popular American newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News, as well as the country's prominent Spanish-language newspaper el Nuevo Herald did so too. America's leading broadsheet the New York Times published the photograph in its online edition and then refused to remove it despite criticism and a request by the US Government.
LAST Friday, Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin alluded to an article http://bit.ly/1hJJCi4 in his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TanChuanJin1. He expressed surprise that the article stated that the Filipino organisers of their independence day celebration in Singapore were being targeted. He wrote: "It was the reported 26,000 'likes' for the page that "is against the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day here" that raised my brows. As it turned out, the reporting was inaccurate. It was actually the post against the activity itself that garnered several hundred 'likes'. The page that hosted it was the one that had the twenty-over thousand likes." **
On Monday, The Straits Times emailed Mr Tan to explain why ST did not concur with his remark, and stated the reasons for the article’s publication.
The gravity of the reportage of the City Harvest trial has been eclipsed by the media circus surrounding the fashion sense of one of the accused Serina Wee. Sadly, The Straits Times virtually appears to be encouraging this. As a public relations practitioner, I am always mindful and constantly reminding my clients that ST will not promote or endorse individuals or products in their editorials. How do I then justify the exception made by this article (Ex-finance manager goes into fashion business, Jan 15)? Why provide free advertising and publicity for a suspect in a corruption case. Is the article newsworthy?