More on Malaysia’s proposed ban on fast food ads…

March 2, 2007

As a former journalist, let me share with you what makes a good / great newspaper story:

1. Something unusual / controversial

2. Something that affects many people

3. Something that involves huge sums of money

4. Something that involves people in power. such as politicians

5. Something close to home.

And you know a newspaper story is great if, after it gets published, there is a lof of discussion about it, in the form of letters to the editor, commentaries by learned experts, newspaper editorials, etc etc.

The news story about Malaysia’s Health Minister “seriously considering” a ban on fast food advertising has all the above elements of a great newspaper story, and more.

No other country that I know of has ever proposed anything nearly as controversial. And this is our neighbour proposing it, not some far off, obscure place like Uzbekistan.

So why are our mainstream newspaper editors unable to recognise a great story and publish it quickly? I don’t think they are dumb. It probably has to do more with Singapore’s near-bottom ranking on the press freedom index.


Still on the subject of fast foods….

Britain’s Prince Charles advised the United Arab Emirates to ban fast foods like McDonalds. A news report on Feb 28 said:

Prince Charles suggested on Tuesday on a visit to the United Arab Emirates that banning McDonald’s fast food was crucial for improving people’s diets. Charles’s comments came while visiting the Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi for the launch of a public health campaign, Britain’s Press Association news agency reported.

“Have you got anywhere with McDonald’s? Have you tried getting it banned? That’s the key,” Charles asked one of the center’s nutritionists, according to the news agency.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman called the remark disappointing. “This appears to be an off-the-cuff remark, in our opinion,” she said on condition of anonymity, in line with company practice in Britain.

Once again, this report was highlighted to me by OMK, who commented:

SG govt always say ‘better unpopular than irresponsible’. Here’s a responsible man speaking!

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