Editor-in-chief apologises to SMRT over Stomp picture. And Mr Low Thia Khiang says the MSM is biased…

THE photograph that a content producer of citizen journalism website Stomp posted online, supposedly of an MRT train running with one set of its doors open, has been found to be false.

On discovering this, Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English and Malay Newspapers Division, sent a letter yesterday to Mr Tan Ek Kia, the interim chief executive of rail operator SMRT, apologising for the incident.

The content producer, Ms Samantha Francis, was also sacked by SPH, which owns Stomp, on the same day.

The 23-year-old had initially claimed that she took the photograph at Lakeside MRT station last Tuesday night. But following investigations by SPH, she eventually admitted that she had taken the image from a post on social networking site Twitter. The original tweet has since been removed.

SMRT had said that its own ez-link records and closed-circuit television footage showed Ms Francis had not been at Lakeside MRT station at all last Tuesday, as she had claimed.

The rail operator also assured commuters that its trains are not able to move off if the doors are not properly closed.

Mr Daniel said in his letter to SMRT: ‘My team and I would like to apologise unreservedly to SMRT for this erroneous report by one of our staff. We truly regret the damage this has caused SMRT.’

He added: ‘Aside from breaching our professional ethics, what she (Ms Francis) has done goes against all the values that we stand for.’

The photograph purported to show a train at Lakeside station with a set of doors on the other side open.

Ms Francis claimed she boarded the train, which then travelled to the next station with the doors open all the way.

Mr Daniel said SPH staff found after detailed checks that the photograph that Ms Francis posted was likely taken at Pasir Ris station, which is a terminal station.

‘This could explain why, while the doors on the platform side of the stationary train appear closed, the doors on the other side were open,’ he explained.

Mr Daniel also apologised for the comments made by Stomp editor Azhar Kasman on Ms Francis’ actions, which were published in The Straits Times last Friday.

Mr Azhar had said Ms Francis was standing by her account.

‘What he (Mr Azhar) should have added was that we would be undertaking our own investigations,’ said Mr Daniel.

SPH will review and tighten Stomp’s operating procedures, he added.

Mr Azhar said yesterday that he deeply regrets that one of his staff ‘breached professional ethics and posted a fabricated report’.

‘I want to assure the public and all our readers that Stomp does not tolerate such unethical behaviour,’ he added.

The photograph first appeared on Stomp last Wednesday, and was picked up by The Straits Times the next day. The newspaper published a picture story headlined: ‘Questions over photo of open train doors’.

This was followed up last Friday with a report on SMRT officials expressing doubts about the photo and Ms Francis assisting with their investigations.

Extending his apologies yesterday, Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: ‘This is a very regrettable breach of our journalistic ethics. The credibility of our content is critical to our readers, and all of us in the newsroom. Upholding this is a duty of each and every member of the team.

‘We will have to work to improve our print and online processes, to do right by our readers.’

When contacted, Ms Francis said she was ‘sorry for what has happened’, but declined to say more.

When asked to comment on the case, Ms Indranee Rajah said that when one is putting up content for public consumption, it is important to verify the accuracy of it, as the public assumes it is accurate and reacts to it.

‘This is even more so when a piece of content is put up by a member of the media,’ added the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Information, Communications and the Arts.

Ms Indranee’s deputy in the GPC, Mr Baey Yam Keng, said SPH was right to sack Ms Francis.

‘What she did was wrong, she did not verify the information and lied about taking the picture,’ he said.

By Amelia Tan
ameltan@sph.com.sg, Straits Times, 25 Jun 2012


Comments from the net : 

  • Why did she do it?
    for career advancement? or
    just wants to create “news” for everyone to bash the PAP especially Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew?Mr Low Thia Khiang says the MSM is biased, but remember the MSM are people who also voted in every election. And if statistical distribution theory is right, there are 40% of MSM that voted for the alternative.
    Fabrications About The PAP
  • We used this story to teach our kids values — always be truthful and honest. 
    She started with a bad choice to post that picture with a lie (door open when train was running) and then lied to cover her fears when SMRT investigated. Then the lie got bigger….
    Back to home — we have to teach our kids values.
  • charge the guy who posted for misleading and confusing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of singaporeans..
  • As this concern false allegation on safety issue. I hope SMRT will do what is right to prevent other like minded people from doing the same thing.
  • She sure made herself a fool and lost her job as a result.
  • dont worry i am sure those anti PAP blogs/websites will hire her for what she is good at.
  • It’s incredible to see how some Singaporeans have become. And it’s sad.
  • What an insidious, deceitful and scheming little liar!
  • Stomp posts have usually put bad light on govt. Must be many opp loving content producer there.
  • Stomp never delete comments that are offensive
  • I think some of the alternate media are talking too freely and they become like vehicle of the opposition voices, so they also have become bias and that is dangerous when more Singaporeans are avoiding main media and go read the alternate media picking up the wrong information.
  •  I know it is unhealthy to politicise this case but i can’t stop wondering the rational behind this: She is trying hard to help SPH prove it is not a mouth-pc of gov, or She is giving the oppies a chance to say…
  • People shouldn’t involve politics at all, previously it was simply good vs evil, now everything is pro vs anti.
    It’s unfair and a giant disservice to past criminals & wrong doers who have done worse but never had the attention of the nation.
    We should strive to encourage society to be above such petty nonsense and return to the good old days when Ms F here would be dismissed as just another “blonde”…

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