15-month old socio-political site shuts down despite "star-studded" interview panels

No, it has nothing to do with government regulation this time.

Martino Tan | May 25, 2016, 03:50 PM

Inconvenient Questions (IQ), a socio-political site led by former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) and former TV producer Viswa Sadasivan, has announced on its Facebook page that it will cease operations on June 4.

In the note, Viswa said that the decision was made because IQ was unable "to raise sufficient funds to sustain operations, going forward". He added that he had "no regrets" because he believed that "IQ made a difference".

A strong start by IQ

Founded by the former NMP in  January 2015, IQ began as an interactive platform where readers could post policy questions. IQ also held regular studio recordings of panel discussions, debates and interviews.

IQ began strongly, as it managed to invite then Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam as its first guest panelist to discuss the limits to the freedom of speech.

Over the past year, IQ also secured Ministers and decision makers to participate as studio panelists.

They included Ministers Tan Chuan-Jin and Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo, former NMP Eugene Tan, former TODAY editor PN Balji, and opinion leaders like Ho Kwon Ping, Kishore Mahbubani and Melissa Kwee.

During the General Election (GE) last year, IQ organised a political dialogue at the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) on August 19, 2015, that was attended by all the ten political parties involved in the GE.

NUSSGE Photo by Ng Yi Shu.

According to the GE 2015 observations by the researchers at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS),

"IQ is home to the old-style extended political discourse that its head Viswa Sadavisan calls 'boutique' journalism. Its videos of debates that go for over an hour-and-a half attracted over 17,000 views, a respectable figure given the form and format. IQ said its website on 9 September pulled in over 35,000 page views, the same day it ran a discussion on how mainstream and alternative media have covered the GE".

IQ 2.0

In retrospect, it was the beginning of an end for IQ when Viswa announced on Nov 2, 2015 that the site "will be taking a break".

In the note, IQ announced that it "will be taking a break for the next three months - to step back from the daily grind, review all aspects and better deliver".

IQ 2.0 was relaunched in February 2016 with new content offerings, including a refreshed setting for its first debate.

But IQ 2.0 lasted for a mere 3.5 months before the final message by its founder and editor-in-chief today.

And the site that will be IQ's "spiritual successor"?

Viswa handed over the poisoned chalice baton to The Online Citizen with this compliment:

"I have gained new found respect for those who pioneered discussions in the online space and managed to keep it going for years. In particular, I salute TOC. It is especially challenging if you want to avoid sensationalizing and win the trust of the viewers and the establishment, alike."

Top photo from Inconvenient Questions Facebook.

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