Place STOMP against other citizen journalism sites such as Canada’s MyNews and the USA’s iReport, and you would probably feel ashamed to be a Singaporean. Al-Jazeera has gone so far as declaring that we, the citizens of Singapore, are addicted to culture of shaming.
The problem, in my opinion, lies in the editorial stance that STOMP employs. The only factor it seems to care about is content which draws the most eyeballs. As long as it is not racially offensive, it should be published. STOMP does not produce controversy; it promotes it, extensively.
You can sense this attitude just by heading to its Terms and Conditions section with a clause saying: “You acknowledge that it is not SPH’s policy to exercise editorial control over, and to review, edit or amend any data, information, materials or contents of any User Content, posting, email or any information that may be inserted or made available on the Site by other users of the Services and that SPH does not endorse and shall not be responsible for any such content.“
By contrast, Canada’s MyNews has a dedicated section called ‘Tips and Advice’ for budding citizen journalists keen to share their content. Contributors are encouraged not only to get the facts (by getting names, titles, addresses and other information that will explain what the pictures are about) but also to take photos or videos from various angles to aid in telling the story.
USA’s iReport provides a toolkit for contributors which helps them prepare and record the incidents properly or as the website puts it, “like a pro”. It goes further by providing links for amateur journalists out there to learn the art of interviewing and how to find the sources needed for their stories.
STOMP has nothing of that sort – it has an ‘About Us’ page which has done a commendable job by displaying its plethora of awards, including Best in Online Media (Gold) in the WAN-IFRA Asian Digital Media Awards last year. It’s going to be a huge waste for us Singaporeans if STOMP has to close down, so below are 3 reasons why it should stay.
1. It rallies Singaporeans together as one
In its ‘About Us’ page, STOMP describes itself as “big on social networking, enabling millions to come together to interact and bond both online and offline in Singapore Seen and Club Stomp”. Well, it has definitely met this objective.
Singaporeans from all walks of life have joined hands and signed a petition to put death on STOMP (it has garnered close to 23,000 supporters as of Apr 20). Besides that, every time a STOMPer posts an army personnel purportedly not giving up his seat to an elderly, local netizens are always behind the STOMP-ed victim and against the contributor.
An enemy’s enemy is one’s friend indeed. STOMP has definitely bonded us Singaporeans online and offline and this spirit of camaderie (though indirect) is something beneficial we can look forward to.
2. It provides material for bloggers or mainstream media to talk about
Suffering from writer’s block? Fret not, all you need to do is visit STOMP to expand on a post or two. We have seen how news from STOMP (such as the wHole Jesslyn Tan saga) made headlines in the Straits Times and The New Paper.
STOMP is always good fodder for future discussions on topics that resonate well with Singaporeans. It is a reliable gauge to what is or about to be trending. It is enough for The Independent Singapore to write an entire post about it.
Frankly speaking, the crux of the issue still remains and we have always been debating about STOMP’s biggest problem: shaming people.
3. It teaches Singaporeans to think critically
I am actually quite pleased that my Facebook friends have adopted a critical eye towards any content published in the Internet. One of most recent posts by STOMP which shows a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) member sitting on the reserved seat which was then revealed to be a misleading post.
The photo was cut off and it quickly reminded me of the infamous photo of Iraqis celebrating when bringing down the statues of its late leader Saddam Hussein. Those who have missed this five years ago can learn a lesson or two about how photos play a crucial role in telling a story.
If I could add a sub-point, STOMP does showcase deeds of Singapore good Samaritans too.
Yes, this post has a slight tinge of sarcasm. The only reason I’m writing this is because STOMP will not shut down soon or even in a few years’ time. Since no one is reining in on the site, why not look at it at a positive light.
On an extra serious note, I hope STOMP at least bother to blur the faces of individuals who are involuntarily featured on its website. Any comments which constitutes to name-calling or cyber-bullying in general should be removed. Keyboard warriors who put on a nom de guerre and start demeaning others online should be banned.
Finally, STOMP must not set the moral standards or guidelines for us, Singaporeans. One should never avoid doing something ‘wrong’ just because he or she fears of being STOMPed. Never.