Sunday, September 6, 2009

PoV – Media Reporting 2006

With the eleventh edition of the S-league into it second month, it is that time of the year to make a note and up to a point judge how the local print media have done especially the print media for it is interesting that they loved to report on how their rival boardcasting media is always not putting local sports interest above financial interests. (Remember Tiger Cup 2004 and Commonwealth Games 2006)

So one must believed then the local print media have nailed the interest of local sports into their heart above all else.

At the same time, it would be nice to have a comparison on whether local media reporting have intensified from last year POV when his author chose 3 papers previews - TNP, Shin Min (Chinese), and Today to compare.

Unfortunately, the author still have not learn to read Malay or Tamil, so once again it is down to the Chinese and English papers with this year seeing the inclusion of another 2 papers Fusion football weekly and SPH flagship Straits Times.

Now, it is onto what one think are the Best to the Worst.
Once again top of the list is local free paper Today which one would say is the best of the lot and certainly it is tough to describe they have a competitor with the package they are offering as the news is always available either starting from the off-season or the ongoing season.
In the off season, the mass media usually forgot local football and players transfers and contract discussion are disregarded but as shown already with the reported S$120000 yearly move by Aide Iskandar to Johor and the reported S$100000 yearly signing, which is the biggest local contract since Fandi Ahmad and SAFFC, by Indra Sahdan with Home United there are stories the local mass media could pick up on.
Onto the current season coverage, Today's S-league preview has gone back to the two parts system with the first part on Monday and the second part on Thursday and also this year, there are more focus on individual players being showcases.
Also, if past records are any indications, as the season wore on and the title race hot up, before the crucial matches between the top dogs Today will have more coverage of these matches (and it may not just fall on Monday and Thursday) to show their importance to the general public who may not be following as closely on the local league.
Another point it stand out as among the rest is Today have coverage of matches on the every next day after each match the paper and it is without peers for non of SPH English papers do that.
There were some disappointment though like the end of the S-league snippets on S-league milestones achieved by players and coaches with it seemly turning into the World Cup snippets and one can understand the lure of the World event thus it is with hopes that with the end of the event in July, it would witness the S-league snippets returning for the players usually getting their recognition in such short take are defenders and midfielders and not always the strikers.
Certainly if Today only did the coverage on the S-league, one could have accused it of thinking of it bottomline for their contract with the S-league but the free paper have also shown their interest of S-league clubs involvement in Asia in the AFC Cup unlike none in the SPH English camp.
It is certainly no minnow competition for it involved top clubs from Hong Kong and Malaysia (SPH strangely like to report them as much superior to local sides) and once in the knockout stage even more superior clubs from West Asia but the S-league clubs have shown they can matched these teams so questions must be raised why the SPH lead media swept such worthwhile achievements worth noting in Asia under the carpet while continued their criticizing the S-league.
In all, it is indeed not difficult to show why Today continue to top the list for the second year running in the author POV on media reporting of local football.
It was a tough fight for second place this year for Shin Min but in the end in term of overall package, it must go to the SPH Chinese paper.
As mentioned already, in the off-season most of the mass media coverage sucked and Shin Min cannot escape from being one of the accused as local football news disappear from its radar altogether once the last match end.
It was a big negative point which would have cost it second place if not for the ongoing coverage it was doing.
One can indeed say the ongoing coverage is a major improvement from last year with nonsense from the three 'stooges' gone for they are a waste of printing space and the decision to expand the coverage with Shin Min having a two parts preview with the first part on Monday and the second part on Friday when the live game is to be telecast was a master stroke.
It is no doubt done in keeping their readers, whom the majority are punters, interested as Singaporepools have increased the lure of their product with a Special bet that can be punted until the last ten minutes of the match and it is introduced for Friday live telecast S-league match.
However it will not be correct to whitewash all their effort as the preview articles written are worth a look while not forgetting their theories along with statistic that can also be found in the preview.
But missing from the preview this year are coverage of players and it is a major disappointment as it was a nice look at players, even if they had focus much on their private lives, and they had introduced players to a section of the Chinese population who are not wired up thus limiting their news to only Chinese papers.
Shin Min did make up for it with coverage of matches on the every next day after each match the paper and it included the AFC Cup matches for last year the papers only printed the scoreline and scorers without any reports much of the time. (Not sure if they continued all season but if they do, a round of applause to them)
Like Today, Shin Min is without peers in this area as non of the other SPH Chinese papers Wanbao and Zaobao do that and this is a major point for without Chinese rival to compete with, one can say Shin Min is doing the right job in promoting local football to the Chinese section in Singapore.
In all, while Shin Min has retain their second position but it is hoped the papers remember that there is still a job in the off-season and bringing back the coverage of players would be correct for Shin Min is a mainstream local paper expected to bring news to sections of their readers who may not have other sources.
It was a close fight for second but in the end Football Weekly was credited with third position.
One of the criteria in determining their position was off season coverage and Football Weekly, along with Today, was the only papers to have done creditable in this area when all others went missing.
The movement of players (especially locals) across clubs have always been difficult to track with clubs sometimes wanting secrecy about the transfers themselves but the papers manage to provide a reasonable track of a number of movements.
The papers is ahead on this point and adding to that is the ongoing coverage is extensive with not only the S-league preview but also a section on both young local players, so one know other young players in the S-league and not just those of the Young Lions, and players plying their trade in the S-league each week on their papers.
The papers have not forgotten the S-league actions as well with a roundup of the past week matches in which they select a Team of the Week and Goal of the Week.
Other than all these, the papers also have local football news that mainstream media may overlook like the grassroot from the Prime League to the amateur scene - such as schools and NFL etc.
It is certainly wonderful to be able to follow the news on the grassroot like the recent SR Nathan Challenge Cup Final between NYP and ITE.
With so much written already, it seem the papers is doing their job well, then the question arose must be why it is third and the answer is that Football Weekly is not a year round paper.
One can understand the financial reasons behind the decision not to make it a year round paper for when the European football scene disappear, the papers could lost a majority of it readers but can one imaged that while the local scene is still ongoing, the papers who is bringing you the news have taken a break of up to 3 months thus diminishing your want on continuing to follow.
It is too big a demerit to overlook and no matter the reasons behind it Football Weekly can be no higher than third.
  • TNP
After last year horror show of Ernest and Tay in which Ernest was more interested in covering Tay backside, it is a relieved one will not have to go through it again with the papers realising their writers are not equipped to comment on the local football scene. (Think back to 2003 as well)
That was why the papers have given the job to a freelancer to write the preview column and one already find it is much better as the focus is on the action on the field.
However one can say that is about the extend of their coverage of local football for it is still doing a terrible job of reporting on the local scene as once a week hardly showed any commitment.
The most glaring evidence was the recent Asian Cup game against Iraq, when the fixture came up against UCL, and while one believed the Chelsea-Barcelona game should get their space, in any other countries the space given to it own country in an event of a famous victory would have been more than the miserly 2 pages (divide by half as advertisement make up the rest) against the 8 pages of UCL with pictures and graphics.
It only tend to show that it was the correct decision for the S-league to stop their contract with SPH as it is impossible to see why FAS would want to stick with them.
Still, as TNP have never done a good job before on local sports one should not be surprised but it does not make up for the terrible job they continue to dish out year after year.
In all, TNP may not have been last this year but it is not as a result of their effort and rather it is the addition of a paper worse than them.
Still the best thing about having TNP that stink is that on Sunday when their S-league preview come out one can save the 80 cents for his kopi for a free paper can offered more.
Some may be confused as to why the ST is being included in a roundup of media reporting as much like a blinking light, the papers coverage of local sports switched on and off as it pleased.
The reason is simple.
As the flagship of SPH, it has the most resources and finances avaliable and it should not be skipping away from it social responsibilities as many times, government MPs and ministers have come to state the media must a role building job in society and one of the most acknowledged way to do that is through sports.
But strangely, it seem ST will not be your source if one is looking for any positive effect on local sports and instead the only way to get printing space in their papers is to have someone steal (Rugby), fight (Rugby), quarrel (Football) or something else terrible or it is foreign sports news for Singaporean even if it is baseball or American football etc.
Even if local sports did well, it has to be to the taste of ST sport editors or else watch them bring the achievements down like last year ASEAN Club Championship.
The team which triumphed is a local club, Tampines Rovers, and not the Singapore National Team so within 48 hours, the papers was ready with a article to showcase the trophy as the worthless Cup but if that was the case then does the Tiger Cup won in the same year mean nothing as well.
Knocking down the ASEAN Club Championship was never enough for ST as they never forgot to decry AFC Cup as a UEFA Cup of Asia thus a second grade competition but it seem ST have a short memory for a few year earlier when English club, Newcastle United was the only English team left in Europe playing in the UEFA Cup, that trophy was more deem more valuable than the UCL to be claimed.
Nothing beat what one feel ST stand for and that is pro-Malaysia Cup that treat a domestic Malaysian Cup above everything else, even the 2 regional competition mentioned, as Sport Editor Tay even once wrote that local football be abandoned if it was offered back so one must asked why he does not also write about what 6 years of FAS in Malaysian professional football done to local youth development.
But with past records from ST, one should not be surprised for in Tiger Cup 1998 (Before Today came about) they even refused to send a single reporter to the competition and Tiger Cup 2005 when they send a interim reporter to cover the semi-final who then send back a article wishing she was in Orchard Road.
It seem ST is hardly a papers that have nailed the interest of local sports into their heart and honestly speaking one believed they have their body in Singapore but heart and soul in either Malaysia or UK.
Or else it could be they are putting local football down is to make up for their own lacked of acknowledge, for the one always writing their articles are foreign based writers and he know that football is no longer a sport meant to be kept between Singapore and Malaysia.
It seem ST as the flagship of SPH have done their bare minimum in improving their coverage of local sports since the ancient times and it is with much disgrace one called it a local papers when commenting on their local sport coverage outside of Games events as they loved to tell others (MediaCorp) to do their job and covered local sports.

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