What to Read for the General Paper and Economics

Summary: Read The Economist, then WSJ and FT. (For Singapore news: Avoid ST; if you must, read Today.)

Read The Economist

The Economist is a British weekly that covers world affairs. Don’t let the title mislead you—it’s not narrowly restricted to “economic matters”.

  • It’s targeted at educated professionals. The writing is generally good, without being pretentious. It’s dry and gets to the point with occasional doses of wit and humour. Moreover, Brits love cheem words, so it’s a great way to expand your vocabulary.
  • It’s a serious news publication. It covers anything important going on in the world, be it a military coup in Fiji or a corruption scandal in Nigeria.
  • It’s a weekly (and not a daily). So it shouldn’t be too much of a burden for you to aim to (eventually) read, say, half the articles in each week’s publication.

Each week’s edition has about 70 pages of content. If you read about five pages a day, you’d cover 35 pages or about half. Do this during your commute, before bedtime, or any other bits of time you have.

The Economist may (initially) be a little heavy and intimidating for the average JC student. But as with exercise (or pretty much any other skill), you can try starting off slow and easy, then work your way up. For example, start with one article (or sit-up/push-up/pull-up) a day; then when you feel comfortable, go up to two per day; etc. The important thing is to make it a habit.

Now, The Economist is by no means perfect, but it is the regular news publication I’d most highly recommend. In terms of narrow utility, it’s great for your General Paper and Economics. But more importantly, it’ll make you a more informed and educated human being who can then heal the world, make it a better place (for you and for me, and the entire human race).

Where to read:

  • NLB > Libby
  • Economist.com. (Google “paywall bypass” if you don’t want to pay.)
  • Subscribers have access to an audio edition. (Also a great way to learn to speak like the Queen.)
  • Try your school library
  • There may or may not be totally illegal online copies (of both the print and audio editions).

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ, US) and Financial Times (FT, UK) are good too

But they’re dailies so may be a bit too much of a burden. So read The Economist first and if that’s not enough, then try WSJ and FT too. (Again, google “paywall bypass” if you don’t want to pay.)

Warning: WSJ‘s opinion and editorial pages are (mostly) stuffed with bad and crazy arguments, so you should (mostly) avoid them. The rest of the paper though is usually excellent.

How about The New York Times (NYT)?

NYT is OK, but over the years has grown increasingly prone to click-bait titles, hyperbole, and wokeism. So, I wouldn’t suggest it, unless The Economist, WSJ, and FT aren’t enough for you.

Don’t read The Straits Times (ST)

The writing is poor and the content is worse. Reading ST makes you stupid.

(ST uses poor English. It has in particular helped to spread the incorrect use of the past perfect had among Singaporeans—see e.g. this Reddit explanation.)

So where to go for Singapore news?

If you die-die must have your local news, a slightly less dumb option is Today. Its print edition died in 2017, but it still has an online edition (free). Today is slightly less humji than ST, probably because it was established only in 2000 and so has fewer laojiaos who still have traumatic memories of being cowed into submission by LKY. Nonetheless, Today is still very much part of the 160 propaganda machine, so be sure to take it with a bucket of salt.

Better still is The Business Times (BT), which is aimed at the atas crowd and is thus a little more respectful of the reader’s intelligence. However and unfortunately, BT usually has very little original content about Singapore. And even this little will have quite a bit that’s specialist (e.g. property news) and not very relevant to you the JC student. You can access BT (and also other SPH newspapers) through NLB.

The Online Citizen was pretty good in the early days, but was then harassed, prosecuted, and sued into ever poorer quality—and eventually death.

Websites like Mothership, The Independent, and The Middle Ground were set up shortly after the 2011 General Election “débâcle” to counter The Online Citizen. For example, Mothership was set up by George Yeo after he lost the 2011 election (and his lucrative salary as a minister). Mothership is worse than even ST. So, don’t waste any time on it.

See also my Free Stuff page for some other recommendations.