10.11.05

A newspaper of their own?

In the special pullout section of today's edition of Today to celebrate its fifth anniversary, they interview their first editor-in-chief P.N. Balji. Among other things, he's reported as saying:
Yes, [I would return to journalism] if I can find an entrepreneur who is prepared to put in money to start a newspaper for women. ... Why a newspaper for women? Slightly more than 50 per cent of the population is women, slightly more than 50 per cent of the working population is women, most of the spending decisions are made by women, and I think women are going to rule. And if you look at the newsroom, most of the journalists are women, but they write for men. So it is a newspaper to say how you would behave on your first date or what kind of perfume to use.
Italics mine. Of course.

A newspaper for women. Because the real hard news that women want to think and read about revolves around how to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex. Never mind trivial issues like what the government wants me to do with my uterus, the welfare of foreign maids, the sexual exploitation of women and children in Asia, or the constant barrage of public advertising that objectifies and trivialises women. What I really need to complete my hollow existence is advice on how to make a man happy and which consumer item to buy in order to achieve that.

To be fair to Balji, the interview does go on to quote him as saying:
For example, the Prime Minister's press conference with the Foreign Correspondents Association (in October), how did a woman view that press conference? I somehow feel, because I've lived with three of them [women], that it will be different. They will each have a different perspective. And we are not reflecting those different perspectives. You will get the women to read, and I think the man will want to know how the woman thinks.
Yes, women have different perspectives from men, but is there a reason the current agenda of any mainstream media can't be broadened to accommodate those perspectives? Why must women's views and needs be perceived as special, needing a separate outlet, instead of mainstream, part and parcel of the prevailing news of the day? If men truly wanted to know how women think, they (meaning the male-dominated senior editorial staff at any number of local or foreign news publications) could start asking those questions within the pages of the existing press. Now that would be a sincere indication that the woman's perspective is as valid and valued as the man's.

I'm surprised at how the interview turned out --- not that Balji made those comments, because I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow that he may have made other unreported and more interesting comments that would have provided better context for the feeble lines that did make it into print. No, I'm surprised that the newspaper ran the interview the way it did, given that he's their ostensibly esteemed first editor-in-chief and all, because it doesn't make him sound very progressive or astute.

Although ---
So it is a newspaper to say how you would behave on your first date or what kind of perfume to use.
--- I just can't get over that line, or see how any context would rescue it. Why would anyone say that??

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10 Comments:

At 11/10/2005 7:48 pm , Blogger limegreenspyda said...

aah. so you are adamant in your refusal to read the Straits Times, but you partake in the musings of Today...? :)

 
At 11/10/2005 8:12 pm , Blogger Tan Kok Seng said...

I am totally shocked.

Could he have been joking? Even then...

 
At 11/10/2005 8:15 pm , Anonymous Cowboy Caleb said...

Now that is a dumb idea that will run out of funding in 6 months.

 
At 11/11/2005 5:53 am , Blogger tscd said...

Once, I answered a telemarketer's call with 'No, I am very happy with my current gas provider, but how would YOU like to hear about a great deal on your car insurance?'. They hung up on me.

 
At 11/11/2005 9:26 am , Blogger mis_nomer said...

I think the UOB ladies card is quite successful, but a newspaper? I don't know...

 
At 11/11/2005 1:46 pm , Blogger Kay said...

Who wrote the article; a man or a woman?

Word verification: woarwh (!)

 
At 11/11/2005 6:50 pm , Blogger  said...

OMG - this is shocking indeed. i pity the three women who have to live with him.

 
At 11/11/2005 7:36 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

I'm baffled by that line too. More so because it seems not to fit in with the rest of that paragraph. It almost sounds like he might have said that ironically, for a laugh, but an ironic tone is so very hard to guard intact on print. I can hardly imagine any man getting away with saying that kind of shit, let alone the editor-in-chief.

He probably has enemies.

Agree with your point on including "women's" viewpoints (I'm not sure where he's going with that one vis a vis the conference) in the main paper. Having another paper means that women are somehow an identifiable "other" in society and should be treated as such. I do think, after having read this and other articles, that Singapore could do with another Press House.

 
At 11/11/2005 8:31 pm , Blogger Tym said...

limegreenspyda > I do scan the local media, even as much as I rail against them. Gotta give them a chance to prove me wrong, right? (So far, they haven't yet.) At any rate, Today is far less annoying than The Straits Times.

coffeeshot > Actually, I have my issues with the UOB Ladies' Card --- or any 'ladies'' credit card, really. But that's another gripe for another time.

Kay > There's no byline in the online version.

Nardac > Indeed! But will it be given its press licence by the government? A-ha...

 
At 11/12/2005 8:13 pm , Anonymous domch said...

I'm willing to think he was being ironic, and was quoted out of context. A wry look on the face, a twinkle in the eye - these don't translate very well onto newsprint.

 

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