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The impact of tightening media regulations on Singapore’s digital news startups*

Conference contribution
Authors Sherwin Chua
Published in Paper presented at the 70th annual International Communication Association (ICA) Virtual Conference, 2020
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords media regulation; news startups; safety of journalists; innovation
Subject categories Media Studies, Communication Studies

Abstract

As change agents, digital news startups introduce innovations to journalism and contribute to a vibrant news ecosystem. In Singapore, where the media market is controlled by a tight regulatory framework, digital news startups that question the political status quo are viewed by the state as contentious, transgressive actors that challenge its political hegemony. Since 2013, the government has been introducing media regulations that directly and indirectly disadvantage digital news startups by raising barriers to entry, limiting access to resources, and curtailing freedom of reporting. Based on a case study of two online news startups in Singapore, this paper discusses how tightening regulations and supervision of the country’s online media environment have impacted digital news startups in two aspects: (1) the safety of these organizations and their journalists; and (2) their innovations in terms of news-gathering practices, content, genre and ideologies. *This paper was presented as part of an ICA panel that examines media policy for journalism startups and digital-born organizations across a wide range of countries and media systems, including Australia, Canada, India, the Netherlands and Singapore.

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