berthahenson

Paralysed by the PM

In News Reports, Writing on May 23, 2012 at 5:20 am

I sometimes think that writing stuff about the Prime Minister puts journalists into a state of semi-paralysis. So it is today with ST’s page 1 on PM’s speech at the CDAC dinner and on Monday when he was at a community event. Even My Paper and Today journalists seem similarly afflicted.

As a reader, I want to read about what’s new or what’s urgent. I also know that important messages need reiteration – like Strengthen community ties for safer Singapore; Self-help groups still very important – but in the headlines? They almost guarantee that the reader flips the page because hey, there the G blows again, lecturing, preaching and hectoring! So please don’t put readers to sleep – or make them feel like children.

Reading the news makes me feel like every word that falls from the PM’s mouth needs to be captured. Soberly-written. No wonderful turns of phrase. In other words, boringly safe. And frankly, I don’t even think the PM meant his words to be so fully recorded for public consumption. I mean, you ask someone a question, he has to answer, you ask someone to make a speech, he makes it. I’m pretty sure that some minion somewhere would have signalled to journalists if the message was “weighty” or “nuanced” – in case the journalists miss the point. But I guess so as NOT to miss the point, everything is captured. Sigh.

I thought the most interesting point about the CDAC event is how it has moved away from serving the “double poor” – low grades from low-income households. I suppose this is how the PM wants the CDAC to proceed to “improve social mobility”. I wish there was more on its upcoming new activities that reflect this, rather than just one paragraph. Go get hold of Lim Swee Say or someone to say more.

As for that community event, what I found most interesting was that EP123Plus! scheme (yes, a scheme was used here) Not so much the slogan which the PM found “cute” (I think NOT!) but about how one family, two patrols and three contact numbers of  neighbours will help in emergency preparedness (that’s the EP part). And while I’m at this, can agencies please do away with these so-called slogans and acronyms? Do you really think anyone can remember that alphabet soup of programmes or SCHEMES we have in Singapore?

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