So Ms Maria Almenoar defended herself (here’s her defence and a critique).
Forget about who is at fault (most probably both made mistakes), I have two issues with her.
She made the point that since she knew taxi drivers could earn up to $5,000 a month, $7,000 is possible. Well, I suspect that she didn’t realise that $7,000 is 40% more than $5,000. It may be possible but because it’s a big percentage jump, she should have been sceptical.
Next, what is clear from her account, is that my take on how SunT covered the story is correct: no attempt at verification. She says this was not possible.
I am willing to concede this point. But it was possible to see if the number made sense. The backlash against the story was made credible and respectable because a cabbie blogger came out with a detailed analysis on why it was impossible for said driver to earn $7,000 consistently working just eight hours a day. Later there were other pieces explaining that working 12-16 hours to earn that kind of money was not physically sustainable over long periods of time.
Ms Maria Almenoar being a seasoned transport correspondent could have done her sums and confronted the cabbie with her numbers. She didn’t.
But, SPH is being unfair in making her shoulder the defence of the story. It’s not only her mistake. There is an editorial process in any newsroom to see if a story meets certain quality standards before it is published. It clearly failed.
Here’s another case of bad reporting.
Last Friday (2 November), this appeared online: The chief executive of Malay/Muslim community self-help group Mendaki has come out to clarify that Indian-Muslims do receive help from the organisation, contrary to what several netizens had written on the group’s Facebok page.
Note ST’s definition of ”several netizens”. It means “almost 800 comments which were overwhelmingly in agreement with” the complainant. Don’t believe me? Read the whole story.
Now for something more substantive, than juz sniping. Mendaki was described as ”Malay/Muslim community self-help group”. But ST reported PM saying this about Mendaki, on 29th October: ”he said in a recent interview with the Malay media to mark the 30th anniversary of Malay self-help group Mendaki”. Which is it ST? Adding to the confusion, SunT, last Sunday, used the term “Malay-Muslim organisations” to describe Mendaki, among others, something pM used in the speech SunT was reporting.
There are differences between ”Malay/Muslim”, “Malay” and “Malay-Muslim”. The last term implies that the Malays must be Muslims while the first term carries the implication that there is no nexus between Malay and Muslim.
So what is Mendaki, SPH?
I’ll end with some tots about the Malay* community.
Notice that the Malays* don’t have their own exclusive race-based help or support group unlike the Chinese or Indians. They got to share Mendaki programmes with Indian-Muslims, except for two programmes . Why this state of affairs when PM has said that there is a role for race-based self-help groups in said story of 29 October?
Snide remarks aside, what it shows is that contrary to a few Hard Truths, the Malay community is not exclusive and in-ward looking. Shouldn’t ST be pointing this out?
One of these days, I must blog on what a M’sian Cina activist is saying: that in M’sia, Malay activists will die to save Chinese and Indians activists from attacks by Malay ultras or the police.
Maybe the purveyor of Hard Truths mixes with the “wrong” Malays? After all, Malay minister Yaacob muttered “worse case scenario” when LKY made his comments about Malays not “mixing”. Indeed his sister was present when LKY made the comments, and she didn’t challenge him did she? Watch the DVD.
*Ya, I’m avoiding the issue of whether Malays in S’pore must be Muslims. Unlike in M’sia, this is not in the constitution. If our constitution avoids the issue, so can I. Anyway it is a verifiable Hard Truth is that every Malay, S’porean or M’sian, I know is a Muslim. So the point is an academic one.