Categorized | Philosophy

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2011 in retrospect

Posted on 01 January 2012

When New Nation started out a year back, nearly 90% of people polled said it wouldn’t take off. One well-known former entrepreneur (and now regular speaker at various entrepreneurship conferences) even said not to waste time and money to start it because it was doomed to fail to begin with. Because no one will pay for “citizen journalism”.

Of course he was right. One year on, we’re barely breaking even with ad sales. Google adsense even blocked us recently for click fraud; someone clicked incessantly on the ad so of course, our account was blacklisted.

It was a roller coaster 2011. Besides doing some ‘coverage’ (I’m using the word loosely because we satirise things on this site) of the General and Presidential elections, we were also hacked once and DDoSed.

To cope with the heavy coverage during GE, we tried enticing university students to contribute by holding weekly essay competitions with $60 as a cash prize. Didn’t work. We also tried paying writers $60 per piece to contribute. But some pieces that came in were so bad, we had to rewrite the whole thing so it became a waste of time AND money. Needless to say, we’re not paying writers anymore.

To cope with the tech demands of a site that many people strangely seem to hate, we had to shift servers until we found a load management system that matched our readership spikes. Upsize, downsize, change companies, clean the code… all this takes time and money.

The guru was right. New Nation can’t function as a company, not yet at least. Because no one will pay for online content today. Unless we start selling merchandise, or accepting donations, there’s no way, in the short term, that New Nation could ever function as a full-fledged company/organisation with full-time staff.

But we’re not beggars and therefore we can be choosers. We choose not to accept donations because that would put us at the mercy of our donors. And there’s also the thorny issue of accountability. Should we be accountable to our paymasters, our readers, ourselves, or the general public? Being self-funded gives us editorial independence. We can choose what we want to write, how we want to cover it, and if we want to change our image overnight there’s no one to say no to it.

Our readership has grown to 30,000 unique visitors a month over the past year. A definite down from our peak during the 2011 General Elections, but still not bad for a blog that makes infantile cracks at local politics.

Still, we have a long way to go.

Our 30,000 a month is pitiful compared to xiaxue, who gets 40,000 A DAY. Even her nemesis Dawn Yang gets 60,000 a month. I would gather that Mr Brown’s readership floats somewhere between those two numbers.

If you’re wondering why I’m using them as a benchmark, it’s because in the blogging realm, they ARE the benchmark. Terence and I may have our roots in The Online Citizen but it is the 5 million Singaporeans out there that we’re targetting, and not those already convinced that political coverage online is essential reading material. By the way, even the readership for Temasek Review, I’ve been told, doesn’t come anywhere near Xiaxue.

Believe it or not, the majority of people out there don’t give a hoot about politics or social issues except maybe for the week prior to the elections. It is the nature of the internet and facebook to convince you that there are many people around that sympathise with your cause, whatever that may be. Try sympathising with Dr. Chee on the PAP facebook page, or saying that women should stop dressing like sluts if they don’t want to be mistaken for prostitutes, on the Slutwalk page.

100 ‘likes’ does not make for majority opinion. Neither does 10 comments about “Stinkaporeans” versus one lone dissenter show that a revolution is on its way.

2011 has been a fun and occasionally expensive year. 2012 will be a challenge considering that there are no major events on the calendar. How’s a satirical site going to survive without politicians tripping over themselves?

That’s when you, yes YOU come in. Write in, take pictures, let us know if there’s anything worth sniggering about about on this island. Half naked men, broken down trains, flooded shopping centres.. share the fun.

After all New Nation is only as good as its audience-participants. YOU, my dear readers make the New Nation.

This post was written by:

- who has written 268 posts on New Nation.

Joey is an intern at New Nation. He hopes to be as funny as Belmont one day and get laid at least twice a month.

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  • Bluex

    Yup, Xiaxue is hugely popular – a symptom of the quality of Singaporeans and why this country is going down the drain.

    • Shihan

      Die liao. must save the country. 

  • Tim Tebow

    Don’t worry. Singapore will always have great writers.

    Do not complain that ‘other writers’ make the best of opportunities – when we don’t write enough, aren’t heard enough, or write great content that we all feel for.

    Focus on what we can do, and achieve great things together.

  • Chinese English

    Hi the webpage heading. does not truly representing Singapore’s racial mixes. why 50 % halal .. somewhat bias right ??