At The Independent Singapore, we are keenly aware of the harsh media regulatory environment in which we operate. The two media companies here in Singapore are government-linked and, we feel, have become the official mouthpiece for the government. Alternate views are sidelined and often do not get enough press.
The Internet has given us an opportunity to create alternate media platforms to rival the government-owned firms.
With what started out as my personal blog (as founder), the news outlet has evolved into a media company that hires full-time staff to carry stories about our community and politics in the country.
Today, the site boasts readership of 750,000. Considering Singapore’s local population is only 3 million, this is no small feat. Our Web site plays a significant role in informing and shaping public opinion.
Our editorial philosophy is to cover stories without fear or favour to the powers that be. However, we are aware that this comes with significant risks of either being shut down through libel suits or criminalized under sedition laws. In recent times, there have been two cases of such punitive action in Singapore.
We also have developed analytics tools to monitor the political mood of the country, thereby giving us an edge on trending topics and conversations that occur online. Using this information, the editorial team amplifies topics to a larger audience.
In August 2013, the Media Development Authority of Singapore asked the editors of the Web site to guarantee that we will not use foreign sources of funds to finance the site.
Locals, on the other hand, were too afraid to fund us for fear of reprehension by the powers that be. Limited by the methods by which we could finance the operation, we bootstrapped the business purely through Google Adsense in the formative years.
In our first month, we drew 800,000 page views. Since our launch in 2013, we have grown from strength to strength, overcoming the odds of failure.
We hope to develop theindependent.sg as the only non-government linked entity in the country, and to take our brand into neighbouring countries that have similar media environments.