TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Blogger Commits Journalism
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

I read with amazement and amusement how Jeff Ooi gets himself branded as a small-minded journalist wannabe with an agenda. While I readily agree that some of the un-reined comments on his blog are unsubstantiated and lopsided, many of the accusations hurled at him are unwarranted.

I know Jeff personally but not well enough to understand his motive and intentions. All I know is that he is driven by this unwavering sense of duty to unmask what he sees as hypocrisies and half-truths. He has no paymasters, no political masters, lawyers on retainer nor ambitions of becoming a journalist. What he has is rapidly increasing readership (and overheads).

If you follow his blog long enough, you would have realised that Jeff rarely elucidates an outright opinion. He quotes a couple of paragraphs; gives his brief take and let his readers take up the cudgels. It is through this online interaction, that a collective opinion is shaped and formed. The primary attraction of his blog is the interactivity and spontaneity of the feedback system, which he cleverly or unwisely capitalises on. The mostly unmoderated commenting system allowed many vile and vicious personal attacks to slip through, unfortunately.

By his own admission, his agenda is to provoke discussion and create awareness on issues that affect Joe Public. Through this uncharted course he veers precariously, crossing swords with powerful adversaries and even friends. Journalist Oon Yeoh, once described him as a self-appointed media watchdog of the pit bull breed. When Jeff bites, he doesn't let go. It is this unrelenting fervour that sometimes clouds his objectivity and usually unbiased mind, in my opinion.

I am privileged too, to count many seasoned and respected journalists as friends. I recognise the perimeter they operate within and the rules they play by. In trying to understand their mindset, I could gauge that several of them consider Jeff a rogue reporter from the outside. Therein lies a subtle paradox or glaring irony. They dismissed Jeff as a wannabe; yet expect him to adhere to their own ethics or standards of professionalism. The same standards which Jeff scrutinises and criticises.

In addition to stepping on toes, he is stepping onto the protected turf of an exclusive club. Not long ago, only sanctioned media organisations are allowed to publish opinions, no matter how skewed it may be. The Internet and the emergence of blogs changed the paradigm irreversibly. Self-publishing has broken the monopoly of the few, empowered the masses and unleashed information which previously flowed through narrow and rusty pipes. The source may be different and more abundant now but the flow remains almost as murky as before. In time, the enlightened minds will set their own filters or shut off some taps, whether new or old.

There are currently over 1000 local bloggers ranging from passive diarists to active dissidents. It is a vocal and growing community of mostly young people who revere the views of their peers more than those published in any traditional media. Unwilling or unable to take cognizance of this groundswell, some choose to cast bloggers as insignificant pretenders. Someday soon, that little burger stall will be selling more burgers than the fancy fast food restaurant it now stands beside.

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