Saturday, June 10, 2006

New newspaper in town

My Paper (Wo Bao) - time ago, SPH, the largest press publishers in Singapore, put out a cleverly name free daily tabloid called 'Streats'. Competition followed with the publication of the not-so-cleverly name, but also free tabloid, Today, by rival Mediacorp. Two elephants battled and the grounds on which they stomped became more fertile - with readers spoiled for choice. But as many suspected, this could not last. The SPH elephant blinked first and both decided to come together rather than continue the fight. And so was reborn the Today newspaper 'incorporating Streats'. Today (sorry, non pun intended), those words acknowledging Streats are not to be found any more on the masthead of the Today newspaper.

But SPH has done the smart thing recently. It has put out a free daily tabloid called My Paper. Like Today, it is distributed in the mornings and at noon at selected MRT stations and Bus Interchanges. Some of it are even delivered to selected homes, which was also the case with Streats. But one thing is different. It is a Chinese language daily. There is no competition in this space, except SPH's own Lianhe Wanbao and Zhaobao. Even so, I think both are sufficiently different, in terms of breadth and depth of coverage, language sophistication and format that each will find or maintain their readership. My Paper is obviously produced by a young generation who have no qualms mixing their sentences and sub-titles with English and colloquial phrases such as 'chiMology'. What I find so attractive about My Paper is the utter simplicity of the language use, so much so that I even encourage my young son to read it.

I am not used to reading any Chinese language paper because I use English more and find that I can get through the English paper much much faster than any Chinese paper. I think this is generally true of many Chinese on this island. But My Paper is different. I find that I can get through the gist of a news article very quickly. Although this comes at the cost of depth and detail, its a good way to get one, anyone, started on reading the Chinese papers. Who knows, one might progress to Zaobao and Wanbao eventually, which may be SPH's strategy of growing the Chinese paper-reading public. In this respect, SPH has done the Chinese community a favour.

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