And He Said, And He Said

I’m normally not critical of any Singaporean journalist’s writing. I know it’s a difficult job, and having to churn out article after article in ever shortening time periods is no mean feat.

In fact, I’m actually quite impressed with the way most articles are written.

However, today I came across an article about how non-Chinese spend the Chinese New Year holidays at the beach on ChannelNewAsia.com which stunned me with a sequence of “[name of speaker] said:” statements.

Hasnita said: “I must say that it is the cheapest way to spend time with your family and brings us closer and back to nature.”

Kannan said: “We make a point that every year we try to come here together with the family and just stay for two days and really enjoy!”

Sarimah said: “Easy access to the toilet, and it is cleaner down here than in Changi!”

Also joining in the fun were foreigners working in Singapore.

Rafael said: “Just having a family day today.”

Virgilio said: “We love nature and at the same time we feel we are still in Philippines.”

Ramon said: “We usually picnic outside at a beach or somewhere.”

And as if that wasn’t enough, four lines down the writer continued:

Rafael said: “I wish our economy booms so that everybody has a good job and good work like me!”

Prabakaran said: “I heard this pig has come after 60 years; if this is true, I am 58 now, I wish to see some good luck!”

Hasnita said: “Definitely peace and prosperity for Singapore and definitely more money for everyone.”

However, some who were wishing for more personal space, were disappointed to see such a big crowd.

Qamarul said: “I didn’t expect them to come here, I thought they are off overseas, across the Causeway, or something like that!”

Prabakaran said: “I thought they won’t be here because it is a Monday and everybody celebrated yesterday.”

Surely this is no way to write?

I’m gutted; disappointed; peeved; angry even, that such an article might actually be published — and on a website of a reputable news channel!

I would have given it more of a chance if the quotes were in the very least interesting, but they add almost nothing to the story.

It seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harry who was interviewed was featured. Was the reporter going for quantity and not quality over here? I suspect so.

And I was hoping that ChannelNewsAsia.com might be a good place to catch up with events back home. Apparently not.

Wait, there’s more

Already feeling a little queasy reading the last article, I moved on to another article on the same day regarding problem gambling during Chinese New Year. It too had writing issues.

While most people dabbled with social gambling, others could cross the line.

It’s “dabble”. And even then, the sentence itself sounds strange. I would rework the whole sentence.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s a classic scratch-your-head moment:

Unlike substance abusers like alcoholics and drug addicts, a problem gambler may not be easily spotted, especially when they manage to hide their addiction.

So, let’s see, if you manage to hide your addition, you won’t be easily spotted. You mean if managed to hide my addiction, I would still be spotted? Huh?

For Christ’s sake, give your readers some credit, ChannelNewsAsia.com — we’re not amateurs.

And poor Mildred Tan, quoted in the same article, didn’t have her grammatical errors removed!

Mildred Tan, Chairman, Public Education Sub-committee, NCPG , says: “In social gambling, people tend to have a lot of fun and laughter, and they teased each other, and I think we welcome the community bonding and social spirit that goes with these activities. I think where we would highlight is when an individual runs out of money at the table and starts borrowing, and that’s beginning of potential of problems.”

I have never studied journalism before, so I’m not quite sure about the issue about quoting people verbatim; but if a person had kindly allowed me to quote him or her, I’d probably have had the courtesy to make sure he or she didn’t sound so bad.

(Link gone? Don’t believe me? You can view the article on non-Chinese Chinese New Year celebrations in PDF format here, and Problem Gambling here)

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