Citizen Journalism Breaks New Ground

About a week ago, Singaporean blogger, Alex Au, kind of ‘blew the whistle’ on the rental story that was featured in one of the local mainstream print publications in his blog entry, S$2, 500 to rent a 3-room flat? The article was about the rental hikes in Singapore, and not convinced that  a 3-room flat in Jurong East was fetching S$2, 500 in rent as reported, Mr Au decided to do a little investigating around the block of flats which happen to be near his place. 

What he found out was that the flat was actually a two-in-one ‘jumbo flat’ and hence was able to fetch the high rent reported.

This goes to show how citizen journalists are also serious about finding out the truth and in this episode, blogger Alex Au helped to set the record straight on the rental yield of the flat.

Thus, it is little wonder that in an article entitled Citizen journalism aims high, we are told that NowPublic, a fast-growing citizen journalism website, has secured US$10.6 million dollars to finance its growth to become the world’s largest news agency. 

Looks like citizen journalism is poised for further growth and has developed a sense of respectability about it. 


Making Money with Blogging in Singapore

Bloggers in Singapore cannow look forward to making some money with their blogs. Currently, some well known bloggers such as Xiaxue and Chubby Hubby are sponsored by certain brands or companies. While the idea of including ads with blogs is not a new one as Google Adsense already pays bloggers to advertise, Nuffnang poses as a new way for local bloggers to come into contact with potential advertisers. 

Nuffnang is the brainchild of its founders, Singaporean Cheo Ming Shen and his Malaysian friend, Timothy Tiah who wanted to create a platform to match bloggers with advertisers.

According to their site, “Nuffnang” is a word in Jafaikan for “Real Good” or “Cool!” Jafaikan is a new multicultural dialect that is spreading amongst young Londoners and was popularized by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (aka the actor who played Borat).

Bloggers just need to sign up and join the blog advertising community and provide details that would help them be matched with relevant advertisers.

Sounds easy? Already to date, just two months after Nuffnang was started here, 1 800 bloggers have already joined the community. Bloggers can expect to be paid anything from $2 to $2000 a week for placing the ads in their blogs.

With online advertising set to go up and with blogging seen as a new way of communicating with the masses, almost like word-of-mouth marketing, it looks like a win-win situation for both the bloggers and the advertisers.

Let’s just hope that in the hope of getting more advertising dollars, bloggers don’t end up ‘selling out’ or changing their writing to pander to the advertisers. 

The Digital Divide

When we talk about the digital divide, we often talk of the gap between those who are technologically advanced, as opposed to those who have less oppotunity or access to technology.

At one level, we can talk about the digital divide between the richer developed countries and the poorer less developed ones who don’t have the infrastructure for a digital lifestyle.  

But that may be changing, as on another level, as a recent survey by communications planning firm Universal McCann shows, “netizens from China, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines have the most active blogospheres.” The survey also found that Singapore holds the 8th place as most avid bloggers in the world.  In addition, not only are some of the less developed countries more actively blogging and reading blogs, they also participate more in social and new media such as podcasting and sharing of photos and videos.

Thus, perhaps it’s time to rethink what constitutes ‘first world’ status and challenge traditional definitions of ‘first world’ and ‘the digital divide’.

On another level, I would like to add that the digital divide can be seen on a more personal basis, in terms of the gap in technological know-how and tech-savvyness between the younger and older members in a household. This is turning the age-old adage of ‘older and wiser’ on its head!

Mark Prensky has coined the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrants’ to describe the two groups, and I think it’s important that both parties learn to bridge the gap, so mind the gap!