HomeEventsThe Evolution of News Consumption: Live Streaming News in Singapore

The Evolution of News Consumption: Live Streaming News in Singapore

It is an established fact that the internet is the new media platform. However, in another research project on news consumption in Singapore by NTU undergraduates, despite the old being reluctant to change, the internet has already shaped the way news is being consumed. Even up to recent years, articles on Straits Times have shown that even for viewpoints on national policies, younger people have preferred visiting blogs to read the views of other Singaporeans than reading the forum page in the newspapers. The research has also discovered that people get their daily news around the day of the event rather than waiting for the next day to read in newspapers. With this, it can also be said that future generations will be reading fewer newspapers as trends change with time. With the internet being the current and future platform, there needs to be a comparison of how news is being consumed in other countries to get an understanding of what is and what may be the way for Singapore in the future.

They are hoping the findings of this research project will bring about a better understanding of why and how Singapore’s society has changed in the way news is being consumed. This may then bring about future research studies and proposed ideas to help rekindle a renewed interest in news among Singaporeans. In view of that, it can be said that Singapore today, being a first world country, has a society rapidly becoming similar to a western society and may be facing similar challenges. With such insight, there is a need to compare with a western society and understand what Singapore may become in time to come. Hence, the group of students decided on using a minimum of four western countries and Japan to compare with Singapore on how news is being consumed.

Over the past decade, a research study conducted by a group of final year students from Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information discovered that there had been a decline in the consumption of news as Singapore’s society has been seen to become more laid back and apathetic. With more and more Singaporeans shunning newspapers and even news programs on television and turning to entertainment shows on Suria and Channel 5, the students saw the urgency to want to find out what has caused this change.

With the advent of globalization and the technological advancements in recent years, the society and culture of news consumption has changed tremendously in Singapore. As we know it, news consumption started off in traditional forms such as newspapers, radio, and television broadcasts. However, these traditional news platforms were quickly replaced by the internet, which is a new media platform where news content can easily be accessed or retrieved.

Background of news consumption in Singapore

One intriguing media consumption pattern in Singapore is the obvious preference for local TV news compared to foreign or satellite news channels. A survey conducted by “Quezon” found that Singaporeans have an average of 59.9% in watching or listening to news, which ranks second lowest among East and Southeast Asian countries, with the Japanese being the lowest. This figure may appear deceptively low, as English-educated Singaporeans also include news consumption from international sources. However, this can be explained by the higher figures in newspaper consumption. An unrelated 1998 study, utilizing the cultivation theory, found that local TV news was deemed highly important by the Singaporean populace and was the primary source of knowledge about Singapore and the outside world. This relative preference for local TV news, when considering Singapore’s high internet household connectivity and literacy rate, deserves an inquiry into the proposition that Singaporeans are avid seekers of the audiovisual format not offered in newspapers. It also suggests that local TV news serves as an entertainment platform with dramas and localized content that typify news in Mediacorp’s Channel 5 and Channel 8, which cannot be found in international sources.

Singapore has been an atypical city in the Asian context as the media industry has historically been able to operate with a certain degree of independence and discretion in its news content, in conformity with Asian values and norms in the modern and increasingly globalized world. However, the city-state has exhibited some signs of opening up in the local media. In November 2009, the “Media Development Authority” announced that foreign satellite TV news channels may be allowed to broadcast “direct-to-home” in the near future. This move is essentially aimed at providing more choices for local viewers and exposing them to international perspectives surrounding news stories. It signifies a departure from the traditional top-down controlled media’s role in telling people what news is good for them and receiving a single Asian perspective.

Rise of live streaming as a news consumption method

This serves to show the increase in popularity of the live content, which is akin to live streaming Singapore in terms of the immediacy news consumers are looking for. Reasons for live streaming’s rise to fame are linked with advances in technology. This includes the increasing ease of access to the Internet from a wider range of locations. It is now increasingly common to have high-speed Internet away from home through mobile device networks. At the same time, an increasing number of mobile devices now support live streaming Singapore content. This means that consumers can now access live streams at almost any location, and this increases the method’s convenience when compared to traditional forms of news consumption.

One method of news consumption that has seen a significant rise in recent years is live streaming. Live streaming refers to the broadcast of live audio or video coverage of an event over the Internet. This phenomenon has become increasingly prevalent in the contemporary digital age, as seen by the success of streaming websites like Twitch.tv, Ustream, and YouTube Live. In the context of news consumption, this refers to the live coverage of news events as they unfold from various locations around the globe. This presents a new and unique method for consumers to access their news, and this method has become increasingly popular.

Benefits of Live Streaming News in Singapore

TV news has also seen a declining viewership in Singapore over the years. A recent study revealed that only 39% of Singaporeans watch TV news. One reason is that TV news has fixed broadcast times and often people are unable to catch the news due to a variety of reasons from work to other commitments. Comparatively, live streaming news offers greater flexibility as news videos can be watched at any time. High-speed internet access has now also made it possible to view high-quality videos at minimal loading time, making live streaming news an attractive option for consumers.

Print newspapers are also losing popularity in Singapore mainly due to poor image quality and small fonts, not to mention the inconvenience of having to bring them around compared to laptops. The Straits Times, Singapore’s most widely circulated newspaper, has already launched an online version of its newspaper. However, with the trend of more people turning to the internet to read news, The Straits Times will be facing stiff competition from various news websites and may potentially lose more readers who prefer the features of live streaming news.

High-profile news events and big stories present a great opportunity for news websites to increase their user base. These moments are often shared with friends and colleagues, and people are often directed to news websites for more information, be it to understand the context of the event or to find out about the latest developments. With live streaming news, it can cater to the information needs of users, with news being updated on news sites and users being notified through various means like RSS on the latest news developments. This is a great departure from traditional media like print newspapers or TV news, where news stories are fixed and only the next day will one be able to learn about the developments of a particular news piece.

As an example, during the 2008 US Presidential Election, CNN generated a spike in usage of its online services with the live streams of the Presidential debates. According to a report, 23.5 million unique users generated 30 million video streams, consuming 2.8 million hours of live video coverage. During the September 2008 week in which the Republican and Democratic parties held their national conventions, Americans viewed more than 17 million video streams of convention coverage (not all live), representing a 600 percent gain over the previous week and about a 2000 percent increase over the same week in 2004.

Live streaming news has reshaped the way people consume news, particularly in Singapore. With increased internet penetration and mobile device usage, live streaming news has benefited Singaporeans by providing real-time updates and immediacy, which is lacking in traditional news broadcasts on TV. Live streaming news sites report news developments as they unfold, keeping viewers informed and updated all the time.

Real-time updates and immediacy

Currently, many working adults and students lead a busy lifestyle. This limits the amount of time they have for traditional news consumption. With the progress of technology and the internet in Singapore, mobile and fixed broadband services are now a reality that many can afford. Live streaming news, which can be accessed through news websites or applications, fulfills the need for immediacy in news delivery. An example of a futuristic news provider would be ‘SmartRadio’, which is a project by a team of Singapore and German researchers. The team is developing an application which would provide localized news updates for use in vehicles. This application would be able to filter news based on location so that drivers would be able to receive immediate updates on traffic accidents or jams. Another example would be the simulcast of the United States Presidential Election Debates in 2008 by Channel NewsAsia. The live streaming allowed many to view the event in real-time despite the varying time zones between Singapore and the US. The debates were also available on-demand after the live streaming for those who had missed it. This was an extremely convenient way for expatriates and Americans living in Singapore to remain updated on the political event. The television broadcast of the debates was also supplemented with web-based interactive features such as a live blog and a Twitter feed. This created an even more engaging experience with the news.

Accessible and convenient news consumption

News streaming is the capability of accessing the news without the hassle of downloading files from the internet. Many companies have been linked with the Associated Press (AP) for the newest and best reliable information put into streaming data. There are many complications and misconceptions linked with this form of new delivery. The first and foremost myth about online streaming is that the viewer still has to be connected to the internet at all times to receive the data. This is not true. The AP provides a streaming service whereby the news will be put into a server folder and will then be sent out to end products and databases around the world. A viewer will then connect to the server and access the streaming server folder. A more efficient tactic of news streaming would be locating the server folder that holds the streaming news. This is provided in a catch videos on demand version which is a more superior approach in today’s fast-paced society. In the end, streaming news has been referred to as a lifesaver for cable cutters who still want to remain informed about events happening around the world.

Interactive and engaging news experience

Live streaming news offers much more than traditional news mediums such as newspapers and TV news. Apart from obtaining real-time news updates, it promotes interactivity and viewer engagement. This is usually done by providing a platform for users to discuss, give feedback, and share the news with others. For example, during the General Election 2011 in Singapore, Yahoo! Singapore set up a live telecast of the election results through live streaming on their website. Adjacent to the live video feed was a live chat which viewers could participate in to discuss the results and share their opinions with one another. Such real-time discussions are not possible in traditional news mediums, and the closest alternative would be talking about the news with friends and family. Live streaming news also enables the news to spread virally. Viewers are able to immediately share interesting news or a news event that they are currently watching by posting the link on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. The shared link will then attract more views, which may initiate further discussions and sharing among an even wider audience. This kind of feedback or news sharing through traditional news mediums would simply be readers discussing what they have read with people they know. It is entirely confined and lacks the ability to reach out to a wider audience.

Challenges and Concerns of Live Streaming News in Singapore

Singapore has a unique and complex media environment. One concern of live streaming news is the potential for unedited and unregulated news reports to be streamed, posing a risk to the credibility and reliability of the news. This could mean that false or unverified information may be streamed to the public and believed to be true, as seen in the case of internet news, where information may be posted but not verified and removed after. With the feature of live streaming, the potential to damage the public’s minds with such information is higher, and measures must be taken to prevent such incidences. Currently, the Media Development Authority (MDA) has codes of practice to prevent offensive material and ensure that information on the internet is not against public interests. In order to make sure that material streamed over the internet, including news, is in line with these conditions, the Internet Code of Practice will have to be extended to cover all forms of streamed media, though this may be difficult as live streamed news can be done from anywhere, including outside Singapore. Measures will also have to be taken to tag news that is unsuitable for youths and ensure that it is not easily accessible by them. Failure to do so may result in the younger generation being misinformed by such news.

Reliability and credibility of live streamed news

This also creates an avenue for satirical videos as well as amateur skits or fake news to have a chance at deceiving many viewers with their real-life event imitations. With millions of Singaporeans using the internet as their main source of news, it is vital to research further into how live streaming will affect their knowledge and decisions on domestic and international issues.

Credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed in. It is a by-product of reliability and would lead to the informed public being able to make correct decisions in a society which affects themselves. This could range from simple day-to-day decisions to voting at the general elections. Live-streamed news and opinion sites make it difficult for the Singapore consumer to differentiate between what is news and what is not. These videos are usually placed all in one, indistinguishable from one another, on various video sharing websites which do not clearly define them as opinions or news.

If some netizens were to be presented sensationalized headlines of a piece of news happening in Singapore, but before its worldwide broadcast or publication, there could be possible exclusions of key details or facts which may give the wrong impression about what has really happened in an event. This leads to the credibility of the article being compromised. Live stream interviews with eye-witnesses of the events can also be unverifiable and subject to acts of deception or agenda-pushing from the interviewees, while old-school news reports and analysis have stored footage for references and citations.

Singaporean consumers of news are accustomed to getting their fix from either the local newspapers, radio or television channels. These traditional platforms practice gate-keeping, which is the process of culling and crafting countless bits of information into a story that will get the public’s attention. If live-streamed news, which does not have to go through this process, becomes the norm, its reliability could be questionable. Gate-keeping helps ensure reliability as it prevents the spread of misinformation and untruths.

In this era of new media, it is essential to critically assess the quality of news and its ability to effectively inform the public. Reliability is defined as the extent to which an experiment, test, or any measuring procedure yields the same result on repeated trials. A news report is only valuable if it is reliable, i.e. if it reports matters as they really are. This means that it should, objectively speaking, represent events with reasonable accuracy and without distortion or bias.

Impact on traditional news platforms and journalism

The value and significance of traditional news platforms in Singapore is a matter of contention. The government-regulated newspapers and the regional free-to-air broadcasts by MediaCorp are widely considered to be only able to present news in a pro-establishment light and are subservient to national objectives. This was found by the Singapore 21 survey done by the Straits Times newspaper, showing that 55% of those surveyed had the opinion that national current affairs media had been used for the government’s propaganda and partisan objectives. It is a held view that since the introduction of new media, there has been added pressure on the part of the government and the traditional news broadcasters to compete with new media sources. News presented by the new media is not regulated by the MDA and, unlike traditional news platforms, it does not face restrictions and possible censorship. The portability of new media and the ability to engage in two-way communication on the internet adds to the challenges of the traditional news broadcasters. This may result in more of the younger generation turning to new media for news consumption. It was found in a survey released by Nielsen Media Research, on behalf of the Singapore Business Times and MediaCorp, that more than half of Singaporeans aged 15-24 prefer to get their news from the internet rather than print media. This is tied in to live streaming news in Singapore, as it is expected to overtake pre-recorded news, which can be seen as being too similar to the traditional platforms. Live streaming news is breaking the traditional news journalism framework of getting multiple sources of information, as it enables news to be reported as it occurs. A perfect example would be the live streaming of parliamentary sessions by the Workers’ Party on their own party website, and the public response to it shows signs of changing news consumption.

Future Trends and Implications of Live Streaming News in Singapore

Finally, this higher level of interactivity will change the way we think of news. Currently, news is seen as a one-way transmission from the media to the individual. But with potentials like the one shown by Mediacorp with their pilot show TalkTV, individuals will be able to actively participate in the news. At which point, we can question whether all news is ‘good’ for the public and what will happen with the increasing blurring line between infotainment and news.

Previous generations of Singaporeans would recall the heyday of SPH’s Streats and SPH’s onslaught on MediaCorp’s monopoly on news information. This sparked a banter between the two news companies to sway the opinions of readers to either SPH or MediaCorp papers. A chat forum SPH hosted on its website was an absolute testament to that when readers engaged in flaming and propaganda against each other, and the forum was infamously known as ‘Warriors of Streats,’ named after a columnist from Streats. This was likely a side effect of there being too much mediascape and people trying to filter what is simply too much news information with too little time. The solution may be an oversimplification in that they turn to news summarization services like StraitsKnowledge’s iWrite or automated summarization. An analysis by Dr. Lau and his team has shown that these services are not there yet in terms of accuracy when compared to human summaries, but they do offer significant time savings and are getting better with time.

As people start consuming more news, a natural evolution is that they will become more informed in general. But the interactivity that IP-based technologies offer may change the way people consume news.

Research into the future trends and implications of live streaming news in Singapore is bound to be purely speculative since it revolves around a technology that is still developing. However, this paper has shown that the potential effects are already promising and that it will likely have a lasting impact on the way individuals consume news. This is a result of the nature of live streaming news and its convergence with the internet. Live news streamed so far has required an internet connection and computer, thus it is not widely divergent from news available from other ‘new media’ technologies. But it is likely that with the development of IPTV, internet-enabled mobile phones, and more affordable portable computing devices, live-streamed news will be accessible from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. This will encourage people to consume more news.

Integration of artificial intelligence in live streaming news

Artificial intelligence, especially chatbots, has been a current trend in news content. It provides users with an interactive and personalized environment. Users can communicate with the chatbot and receive news articles according to their preference. One of the organizations that has adopted this technology is SPH. They have a chatbot known as Stacks, which delivers news articles from The Straits Times and The Business Times. Users are able to converse with the chatbot and receive news articles from a certain time period, such as today or this week. This provides users with the latest news updates. Additionally, Stacks is able to recommend news articles according to the user’s reading behavior. This feature is especially useful for users who are looking for news articles outside of their reading behavior, such as a student attempting to understand global economics. While this feature is not live streaming news, it is highly possible that AI chatbots can be integrated into live streaming news platforms to deliver news articles and converse with users. Another AI technology is automatic live subtitling and translation. This technology enables subtitles to be automatically generated and translated into different languages according to the user’s preference. This is useful for users who are unable to understand the language used by the news presenter. This technology has already been adopted by BBC in their live news broadcasts, and it is highly possible for other news organizations to follow suit.

Personalization and customization of news content

This is superb news for advertisers as well. These days, many advertisers are going native with their ads, as it has been proven that it is more effective to engage the readers. Native ads are advertising content that is integrated seamlessly within the news content and looks like news itself. With personalized news, it will be easier to target specific groups of people. Advertisers can design a few native ads targeted at different groups of people and place them accordingly near similar news. This is more efficient compared to the current approach of serving the same ad to everyone viewing a particular website. This is because not everyone has the same reaction when being served an ad. Some people may be interested, while others might find it intrusive and annoying.

A news curating chatbot is designed to develop a better understanding of what readers are looking for in their news. The chatbot will ask readers a myriad of questions to ascertain the type of news they are interested in. With time, this chatbot will remember readers’ preferences and be able to proactively recommend and deliver news to the reader. This will greatly assist in bringing news to people who are always on the go and have little time to read the news.

Just like algorithmic recommendations transform the options on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video to serve you the movies and shows that might interest you, on a parallel note, a chatbot will serve tailor-made news to Singaporean news consumers in the future. It saves the time and effort these consumers spend filtering out news that is not relevant to them. It also makes news reading a less daunting task for people who shun news due to a lack of interest in general news. This may result in a better-informed society in Singapore.

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