More proof that ST, Channel 5 is biased

Posted on 05 February 2013

How biased? Very.

The recently concluded Punggol East by-election held on Jan. 26 was a godsend not just to the Workers’ Party.

Semi-professional media watchers, who are very free, have used this rare opportunity to conduct the following exercise: Check how skewed the mainstream media coverage was, as it is not everyday you have a by-election essentially focussed on one SMC with two candidates from heavyweight parties.

This makes life easy for those carrying out a postmortem.

So, please take a look at the following scanned newspaper reports from The Straits Times. It is seven days’ worth of coverage, taken from Jan. 19 to 25 — that one week leading up to polling day on Jan. 26.

Blacked out areas are advertisements. They are distracting.

Blacked out areas are advertisements. They are distracting.

On closer inspection, what emerges are some interesting and consistent patterns as to how the PAP was favoured over the WP.

Basically, both sets of candidates were systematically given different treatment in the mainstream media.

But the question is: Were you even aware of the following nifty little tricks the mainstream press uses to skew your perception?

PAP got more positive coverage

What we are about to do is quite simple: Since a picture paints a thousand words, then why not let’s just compare pictures?

Take a look at all the photos below that were published in that week’s worth of ST coverage, which are now cropped out to be compared side by side.



On the left, is the PAP. On the right, is the WP.

You will notice, in terms of quantity, they are about the same.

But — and here’s the big “but” — PAP’s Koh Poh Koon appeared in 11 photos, while WP’s Lee Li Lian appeared in only 8 of them.

No big deal, you say?

Well, if you were to look at WP’s set of photos alone, you can be forgiven for thinking that it might have been Low Thia Khiang who was running for Punggol East SMC instead.

Basically, WP’s Lee Li Lian’s clout is diluted in print. The same cannot be said for PAP’s Koh Poh Koon. ST clearly made Koh Poh Koon the subject of almost every photo.

Because if you look at PAP’s set of photos, you would have zero doubt who the candidate was.

Left-right dichotomy

Ok, let’s go beyond the superficial.

For the more hawk-eyed and learned, this is where things start to get more interesting.

You will notice that PAP and their candidate are more likely to be featured on the left-hand side of any image, while WP and their candidate are more likely to be relegated to be on the right-hand side.

Why is appearing on the left better? That’s because people read from left to right. Anything on the left, comes first.

Here, let me help you see things clearer:


Look at the last two pictures: Even when the picture of PM Lee is on the right, in the picture he is still on the left. And check out Lee Li Lian’s position in the last picture. Although the picture is published on the left of the paper, Lee Li Lian is still standing on the far right. She is not even the subject of the photo.

Channel 5 most biased

Still not convinced? Is it all a fluke?

Ok fine. Let me give you one last piece of incontrovertible proof that the mainstream media is biased.

On the 27 Jan. Channel 5 news report, one day after the results of the by-election were out, this was how they presented the candidates, their winning/ losing margin and who actually got elected to be Punggol East MP.

Why is the loser's picture so much bigger than the elected MP's? Parallax error?

Why is the loser’s picture so much bigger than the elected MP’s? Parallax error?

I’m sorry, but even though I might have been sitting to one side of the TV, I really don’t think this discrepancy in the size of the candidates’ faces is due to parallax error.

Why the hell is the guy who lost the by-election getting a much bigger surface area for his face to be on TV?!






This post was written by:

- who has written 2685 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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  • Alan

    Well looks like being on the right side made LLL win then. It’s how you look at it. Someone else might say the opposite and it will still be true to some.

  • jt

    And the rounding seems a biased as well, with Lee Lilian’s winning margin rounded down, and the other rounded up.

    • Lee Kern Choong

      … It was rounded to the nearest thousand, which is almost always a given when rounding. Because 16038 is closer to 16k than to 17k, no? And because 12856 is closer to 13k than to 12k, no?

      • Jerry

        But 54.52% is nearer to 55%. So rounding it off to the nearest whole number should be 55% and not 54%.

        • Lee Kern Choong

          If the newsanchor said Dr Koh won about 43% of the vote and not about 44%, then there might be something there. But she didn’t say anything about it so there’s nothing to compare it to, so… no conclusion regarding that point


    I guess probably they didn’t expect the result, so the programmed version was for one of them to be bigger…

  • not really

    to a reader, content on the top left and bottom right will leave the strongest impression – you have to pick out those which fall on the bottom left of the left and right pages.

  • sg_research

    NewNation, U got it PERFECTLY right. I think most singaporeans also slightly realised the SUBLIMAL ADVERTISING FOR PAP. It was LOWDOWN AND DISHONEST OF THE STRAITS TIMES.
    However, you know what is the good news?


    LOL, so much for sublimal advertising.

  • herge

    any sources for the left right dichotomy thing? sounds interesting but cant find anything abt it..

  • ah beng

    there’s one more… in chinese newspaper xin ming
    i remember the small headline wrote dr koh beats LLL in overseas voting
    as if it matters anyway

  • Haez

    Interesting ! I have something to add on here. I remember reading about this kind of placement years ago in a body language book. Apparently, standing on the left side in a photo makes you appear more dominant and is a trick widely abused by world leaders. Here’s a link :

    scroll down to “gaining the left side advantage”. Minus points for MSM again !

  • What about content?

    PAP currently form the government and also were the incumbents in the ward, so it is not surprising that they were prominently featured. If the actual content and amount of the reports were largely skewed towards favouring the ruling party, then perhaps there is something to be worried about. However, it seems that the reporting by the mainstream media this time has been pleasantly surprising, since its missteps over the previous GE.

  • greasy

    His picture is bigger so I can capture a more detailed scan for my dart board.

  • Crystal skyes

    Parallax error? HAHAHAHAHa

  • Sean

    yup, i absolutely noticed the rubbish on tv the night of the by-election. the PAP candidate having a bigger face shot, the LOSING candidate being on the left-hand side of the screen when the faces of all 3 candidates were shown. mediacorp = absolute trash.

  • Bernard Tan Y.J

    How about an article on the WHITE PAPER????

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  • Tatters

    Super well done. You should screencast this and place in on youtube to get to a wider audience.

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