AsiaOne clarifies headline change on political debate, independent decision made with no external communication

The headline was amended to reflect additional reporting.

Sulaiman Daud | July 03, 2020, 10:09 AM

A change to a headline of an online news article covering the recent GE2020 political debate on July 1 caught the eye of many netizens.

However, despite speculation, AsiaOne has clarified that its decision to modify the headline was an independent one and there was "no external communication with any other party."

Change in headline

On July 2, HardwareZone Forum user d3n posted screen shots of an AsiaOne article that appeared to have undergone a change.

The first headline, apparently accessible by Google webcache, reads "WP's Jamus Lin wins over the internet after his performance in GE2020 live debate."

Screen shot from HWZ.

However, the headline on the article as it appeared later (and also as of July 3) reads "WP's Jamus Lim and PAP's Vivian Balakrishnan win over the internet after their GE2020 debate performances."

Screen shot from HWZ.

The thread was titled "Proof of state controlled media".

Facebook post on change

A Facebook post by one David Lim on July 2 also pointed out the change.

The post said:

"This morning an AsiaOne (a subsidiary of SPH) article heaping praise on Workers' Party's Dr Jamus Lim's performance on last night's televised General Election debate was published. Hours later it was yanked.

Then it was republished just now with a more flattering headline for the ruling party's Minister. It included one tiny, added paragraph "As for Dr Balakrishnan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs also scored tons of brownie points online for his composure under the keen queries fielded by the opposition"."

As of 9:00am on July 3, it had garnered over 1,000 reacts and over 2,400 shares.

You can see it below:

Independent decision by editors

AsiaOne has updated its article to include an Editor's Note clarifying the situation, and stated that it was an independent decision.

The note reads:

"The Editor replies: We want to thank readers for their feedback. This article was published under the original headline, “WP’s Jamus Lim wins over the internet after his performance in GE2020 live debate” on Jul 1. It was updated on Jul 2 and the headline was amended to reflect additional reporting.

The decision to update the article was an independent decision of AsiaOne, a majority owned subsidiary of mm2Asia. There was no external communication with any other party."

mm2Asia, according to its website, is headquartered in Singapore and is involved in the media and entertainment spheres in several countries.

According to a 2018 Business Times article, AsiaOne was founded in 1995 by the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

A media release on July 4, 2018 stated that AsiaOne would be jointly operated by MM2 Asia Ltd and SPH through its wholly owned subsidiary SPH Invest Ltd. The article added:

"mm2 and SPH Invest now hold 51 per cent and 49 per cent equity interest respectively in AsiaOne Online, the operating joint venture company."

Top image from HWZ Forum and David Lim's Facebook page.