The Middle Ground can’t go on anymore

From ‘The Middle Ground to wind down, publisher says ‘can’t go on anymore’, 28 Oct 2017, article in CNA.

Local sociopolitical website The Middle Ground announced on Saturday (Oct 28) that it was winding down in a note by its publisher, Daniel Yap.

“I want to let you know today that we’ve decided to start the process of winding down our publication,” said Mr Yap. “It’s a decision that the TMG team has been dreading for some time, and we wanted to let you know as soon as possible.

…The Middle Ground was launched in June 2015 with Mr Yap and editor Bertha Henson at the helm.

On its Facebook page, The Middle Ground describes itself as a “space for everyone in the middle, somewhere in between the madness at both extremes”.

It added: “It is a place where two sides can meet and be informed about opposing schools of thought. It is a place for moderate speech and agreeable disagreement.”

Video killed the Radio Star, MDA’s registration requirements killed TMG’s previous incarnation, the Breakfast Network (founded by TMG editor Bertha Henson), and what we refer to as news and op-eds these days (on Facebook feed, mainly) is killing blogs and ‘socio-political’ websites.

Regulatory burden and fear of censorship (or self-censorship) are not all to blame. Online journalism, especially of the serious political commentary kind, is no longer a sustainable business model. In the age of memes and personally curated newsfeeds, readers’ attention spans have reduced to that of a gnat’s. We choose to read only what aligns with our worldview, be it pro-PAP or anti-establishment. The number of fence-sitters out there who want to ‘discuss issues and agree to disagree’ are probably less than those willing to pay money to see Steven Lim fight in a ring.

If you’re an intelligent person with an opinion to make, you no longer submit your work as a contribution to credible online media. You simply publish your essay on Facebook. It’s faster, it’s free, and you can go viral before you can make sense of whatever form the MDA wants you to fill to register your site. You just have to be careful not to do a Li Shengwu and get your arse beat by the AGC. Whether people bother to plough through more than 2 paragraphs of your post is another matter.

Meanwhile, registered sites like The Independent resort to sensationalism and shit-stirring reporting to stay afloat. Mothership becomes more ‘Buzzfeedy’ with its foray in the memeverse and quizzes like ‘Which kind of Singaporean Social Media User Are You’. The Online Citizen has a category called ‘Animals’ and has a paid banner for ‘Gold-D’ Cat food. Then we have the offspring of the Father of Fake News that is The Real Singapore, the StatesTimes Review, stuff that people share on their feeds whenever they were late for a job interview because the fucking train broke down. The socio-political site that we used to know is dead. It gets flickers of traffic every 4 years during the elections, but for most of its existence it feeds off people who don’t know shit about society, or politics for that matter.

If you’re looking for a serious read without the flashy ads and millennial-pandering listicles about who serves the best bubble tea in Singapore, then you’d have to head to the library to borrow an actual book.

And who in their right mind would do that?

 

 

 

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