The Straits Times reports factually – not

Posted on 16 December 2011

Watch the headline go from “hundreds” to “thousands”! But a little too late…

Before midnight on Dec. 15, The Straits Times carried this report on its website about the latest MRT disruptions:

On Dec. 16, some time after 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., the headline was changed to better reflect reality.

Notice how “hundreds” became “thousands”:

Notice how Channel News Asia already reported “thousands” by 8 p.m. on the day of the train disruption itself!

But wait! There’s more!

If, according to the latest figures, SMRT ridership is more than 50 million rides a month, or about 1.7 million rides a day, how many rides will be halted if you shut down the system for Braddell, Toa Payoh, Novena, Newton, Orchard, Somerset, Dhoby Ghaut, City Hall, Raffles Place and Marina Bay during the peak period between 7 p.m. and 12 midnight?

How many people do you realistically think won’t get to ride the trains? Let’s say the disruption lasted only one hour instead of five? Only hundreds?

Really? Can you really safely say “hundreds”?

And how can ST not know if this information is publicly available on the SMRT website?

Therefore, it is common sense that at any given point in time in which the train system malfunctions along a stretch of 10 stations between Braddell and Marina Bay, you are fudging the numbers if you only claim hundreds are affected.

Ipso facto, to even claim caution or ignorance when reporting the figure of “hundreds” being affected is nonsense.

This post was written by:

- who has written 2584 posts on New Nation.

Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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  • Timhlb2

    PAP and PAP linked taxi companies (aka GLC) have no sense of accountability. We need a freer and open political climate where so-called educated fools cannot get away with this lack of accountability. PM will shed tears again at Raffles place 2 days before next election and “apologize”!! If the transpirt minister, SMRT chairperson and CEO are as passionate about their jobs as they are about their salaries do the respectable thing and resign! Shame on you PAP & company.

  • whatever

    Perhaps ST has the same tagline as NewNation? 50% real news.. So the “hundreds” article is in the 50% not-so-real news and the “thousands” is in the 50% real..

  • Wang Dingguo

    The retweets and facebook shares for the first pic is lower higher than the 2nd pic.
    Thus, the 2nd pic is earlier than the first pic. Not the other way round.
    So they wrote ‘thousands’ before changing to ‘hundreds’
    And you erased the date for the 2nd pic. Why?
    Please correct your post dude. Misleading.

    Can’t believe thousands of ppl sharing this post without reading it…sigh.. even TOC reposted it…

    • Belmont

      I was up at 12am monitoring the situation because i hauled my ass on foot from bugis to dhoby ghaut cos I couldn’t get a train. I was up until 5am reading the updates. I saw the article headline change before my eyes using sorcery. You need an arrow to the knee.

  • Smellycheesepie

    From:-  [email protected]
    You know how the Gaman will explain this?(i) its a once in 50 years occurrence(ii)  its brought about by increased precipitation and climate change (iii) the contractors’ workers fail to clear the fallen leafs properly (iv) rubbish accumulated on the tracks causing it to short-circuit.
    And those smartarses who broke the windows, better prepare to have your ka-cherng WHIPPED till you bleed.  The Lor in this Cuntery is:  Sinkaporeans hoot Gaman popperty Gaman hoot your Behind!  Pia! Pia! Pia ! (sound of skin being flayed and flying off)
    Unless of coz you are foreign talent, then you’d be let off with a tap on your talented wrists. 

    • Calmela Hamid

      ‘talented wrists’… Hee!

  • Lester Kok

    The first post is most probably written at a time when information is sketchy, probably soon after the incident happened. Official confirmation is needed for the total amount of affected passengers, as not to provide readers with false or untrue information which may be blown out of proportions by tweets or postings. Assuming the first train was delayed, and the story was posted, it is not wrong to say hundreds. Ever heard someone saying something like: 16 hundred (which is actually 1600)?

    • Duh

      Dude, if information was sketchy at that time, they could have simply said, ‘Peak hour commuters stranded due to MRT breakdown’

      No figures are provided to guess if it’s hundreds or thousands 

      • Lester Kok

        Yup, you are right, they could have worded the way you have said, but numbers are also commonly used to give a sense of scale of how big or small a disruption was. How many commuters stranded makes a difference. Would you have bothered if it was only tens of commuters stranded? or would the word hundreds catch your eye? They are out to sell newspapers as a product also, so their headlines must also be “catchy”.

        • Belmont

          I guess ST could say a million if they really wanted to sell papers. Until they took an arrow to the knee.

    • Belmont

      Kindly explain what kind of sorcery did Channel News Asia use to be able to say “thousands”?

      • Lester Kok

        Unfortunately, as pointed out by another reader, we don’t know what time was the first ST post. It could have been earlier than CNA’s time of posting. Also, the ST’s updated article seemed to be similar to the one appearing in print, so most likely it was taken from the print article, where else CNA produces for TV and requires a much faster processing time (also doesn’t have the same type of constraints) as compared to the print newspaper which prints after midnight. I’m pointing out the possibility of other factors which may not be taken into account.

        • Sgcynic

          Peak hour. Each train easily carries a thousand passengers

  • Jianyue

    It’s the same issue with disaster reporting. Some newspapers are more conservative and they will report a lower figure first. Hundreds is a subset of a thousand so its factually less inaccurate compared to saying a thousand when it could be hundreds only. You can do research on how they report the Aceh tsunami, Japan earthquake… 

    • Belmont

      PSLE maths question:

      (a) A national train system has a ridership of 50 million per month. What is the average ridership a day?

      (b) Using your answer from (a), given the train system operates for 18 hours a day, what is the ridership per hour?

      (c)(i) Using your answer from (b),

      (i) how many riders are affected if 10 percent of all stations are closed for 1 hour? (ii) 5 hours?

      Each question is worth 1 mark.

      (Each wrong answer deserves an arrow to the knee.)

      • Guest

        unlike aceh, it’s pretty easy to give a good estimate for this one…

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