Friday, February 01, 2008

Sharing Nugget #64

#64: Wee Kim Wee Lunchtime Talk Reflection 2

This is a critique submission for a Arts Module that requires us to reflect on the presentations of various speakers who will share insights throughout the weeks.

On 23 January 2008, Mr Koh Buck Song, a Campaign Strategist of Hill & Knowlton, shared “broad observations” on “Bridging the Big Divide: The Nature of Singapore’s ‘Parallel Universe’ of Media Production and Consumption”.

Mr Koh stimulated reflection through his wealth of anecdotal evidence. His use of straw polls of the audience, where results were consistent with his hypothesis of a “Big Divide”, was a highlight. His style of presentation thus reflects his background as a keen intellect and a leader of public discourse in Singapore.

However, I sensed something about Mr Koh was quite different from other speakers. He seemed a person burdened by knowing too much about things he cannot say on record. Although this is hardly surprising for a man who had been the supervisor of the Political Desk at The Straits Times, Mr Koh seemed almost a fatalist. This taught me a great deal about the realm of leadership in political discourse. For example, Mr Koh was consistent in replacing “People’s Action Party” with “the ruling political party”. There was no room for treading carelessly.

Despite his cautiousness, Mr Koh’s sharing was rich in insights. He started by putting forth his hypothesis: There is an increasing divide between people who uses or produces content for traditional and non-traditional media. He eased us into his contention of this ill-studied phenomenon with a story of an acquaintance who gets all his news from friends’ blogs. This led us to ask: Is it possible to live in world detached from mainstream media?

Yes, he said. Mr Koh cited books like “The World is Flat” and “The Tipping Point” to introduce concepts like the “Fragmentation Effect” and the “Friendship Factor”. The world is shrinking through globalization. Information flow through the internet is at a historic high. This affects how we consume media and in turn, affects how media corporations, businesses, Goverments, civil society, public intellectuals and political dissidents use the media to forward their agenda.

In this new world, Mr Koh said, the way for the above mentioned to gain influence on public opinion is to zero in on the levers of popular media, and commit all resources to it. The star blogger and the “man-at-the-top” were cited as examples of such levers. Next, how do we respond to the media divide? Mr Koh believes that one should either take leadership of public opinion to affect change, or become a fatalist! While I do not expect this talk to be the hotbed for the next generation of opinion leaders, I do believe that his diplomatic skills did rub off us. When I posed a tough question of “whether the Singapore Government is suppressing freedom of speech in the media”, he answer was, “after seeing how a free press can topple a Government in Indonesia (after the financial crisis), the Singapore Government has become more careful”.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appreciating the commitment you put into your

blog and detailed information you provide. It's awesome to come

across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same outdated rehashed

information. Great read! I've saved your site and I'm including your

RSS feeds to my Google account.

Look into my web blog ::

5:26 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home