[Investigative Journalism] “Parkour” Saga: How credible are our local news sites?

INTRODUCTION

The below shows the timeline, as well as the analysis of the credibility of both our local non-mainstream and mainstream news sites in regards to their portrayal of the “Parkour” Saga.

**Terms**

M – Mainstream news sites [*Any news sites under SPH]

NM – Non-mainstream news sites

CJ – Citizen Journalism [*Source of news came from netizens themselves]

21 October 2015

中二女学生示范跑酷疑失足跌死 Secondary 2 student slipped and fell to her death from performing parkour moves (Zaobao, 21 Oct 2015)

据了解,死者当时想要向朋友示范跑酷(Parkour)的一些动作..

It is believed that the deceased victim had wanted to show her friends some of her pakour moves.

Police investigating death of Spectra Secondary student; she was doing parkour when she fell (ST, 21 Oct 2015) Bridget Tan 557pm

 ..is believed to have been doing parkour.., when she fell to her death..Police told The Straits Times that investigations are ongoing.

Teen Girl Falls 4 Floors to Her Death while Playing Parkour in School (Redwire Singapore, Oct 21 2015) 644pm

..is believed to have been playing parkour when she plunged to her death..

Girl dies after falling from school building (AsiaOne, 21 Oct 2015) minlee@sph.com.sg

.. is believed to have fallen to her death while attempting to perform a parkour move.., local media reported.

Student falls to her death while playing Parkour at school (EduMatters, 21 Oct 2015)

.. is believed to have been playing parkour when she plunged to her death.

校园玩’跑酷’ 女生4楼坠死 [Parkour in campus leads to death of girl who fell from the 4th floor] (Omy News, 21 Oct 2015)

疑玩“跑酷”出人命!14岁女生跟同学一起上厕所,一时兴起从四楼跳到三楼,岂料失足直接坠下楼,送院后不治!

据了解..想从四楼走廊跳到三楼走廊。

Suspected playing with parkour leading to death! The 14 year old girl was at the toilet with her friends when she suddenly decided to jump from the 4th to the 3rd floor, lost her footing and died later in hospital. It is supposed that the deceased had wanted to jump from the 4th to 3rd floor corridor.

14-year-old girl falls to her death while attempting a parkour move (theAsianparent) [*Post content taken from AsiaOne’s 21 Oct 2015 post]

.. was found lying unconscious on the school grounds after she fell while attempting to perform a parkour move.

Spectra student died after allegedly falling while playing parkour at school (Berita Harian, 21 Oct 2015)

is believed to be playing a sport parkour when he fell and died yesterday morning.

14 YEAR OLD SPECTRA SECONDARY SCHOOL GIRL FOUND DEAD IN SCHOOL AFTER FALL FROM HEIGHT (All Singapore Stuff, Oct 21 2015)

..died from her injuries sustained after she fell from a height yesterday at Spectra Secondary School.

According to the police, they are investigating the case as unnatural death.

NETIZENS SPECULATE 14 YEAR OLD SPECTRA SECONDARY DEATH MAY BE LINKED TO BULLYING (All Singapore Stuff, 21 Oct 2015) 449pm

Shortly after news broke about the tragic death of a 14 year-old female student on the grounds of Spectra Secondary School in Woodlands, a netizen who lives in the vicinity of the school has come forward with shocking revelations about the bullying behavior of some students at the school. According to the netizen, Spectra students had on numerous occasions bullied their fellow Spectra students in public places while still wearing their school uniforms

I’m truly sorry about the girl. We don’t know what the Hell happened & pointless to be pointing fingers now but this should have Not happened !! 

Spectra Secondary student dies after falling from school building (Yahoo News, Oct 21 2015) Alycia Lim

A 14-year-old girl died following injuries from her fall on Tuesday (20 Oct) at Spectra Secondary School..When asked by Yahoo Singapore, police confirmed the incident Wednesday and said they were investigating the death..Her death was classified as unnatural death..

 Media Analysis (21 October 2015)

HEADLINES

7 of the 11 headlines of the above news sites explicitly suggested that parkour was what resulted in the girl’s death.

  • Zaobao (M)
  • ST (M)
  • RedWire Singapore (NM)
  • theAsianparent (NM)
  • EduMatters (NM)
  • Omy News (M)
  • Berita Harian (M)

AsiaOne (M)Yahoo News (NM) and All Singapore Stuff (NM) placed a neutral headline stating the girl died falling from either a height or school building.

All Singapore Stuff (CJ) speculated and linked the girl’s death to bullying.

CONTENT

7 out of 10 news sites stated in their articles that it was “believed/suspected” the girl’s death was a result of doing parkour.

theAsianparent (NM) was the only one that deemed the relation of the girl’s death to parkour as a fact.

Yahoo News (NM) and All Singapore Stuff (NM) stated the girl’s death was classified as unnatural, also given updates by the police and the school.

All Singapore Stuff (CJ) did not link the girl’s death to parkour, though it did speculate bullying as a possible cause, based on a netizen personal experience of seeing students from that school bullying their schoolmates in the past.

Who is the most guilty?

theAsianparent explicitly suggested in both their headlines and content that the girl’s death was a result of doing parkour.

Who is the most credible?

Yahoo News and All Singapore Stuff are at a tie – played it safe with not only a neutral headline, but were also the only 2 news site not to speculate the still unverified cause of the girl’s death. (*However, do note that a netizen who sent up his post to All Singapore Stuff did speculate the possibility of the girl being bullied)

22 Oct 2015

疑示范“跑酷”失足 本地女生坠楼身亡 Local girl suspected of performing parkour moves that caused her to slipped and fall to her death (Zaobao, 22 Oct 2015)

..进行跑酷活动时,疑失足跌落,伤重不治.. 警方正进行调查。

.. lost her footing and sustained serious injuries after carrying out a parkour act.. Police investigations are ongoing.

Girl, 14, falls to her death from school building (ST, 22 Oct 2015) Calvin Yang 5am

..is believed to have been practising parkour when she fell to her death

Girl, 14, falls to death doing parkour (TNP, 22 Oct 2015) Elizabeth Law 6am

..is believed to have fallen to her death while doing parkour ..The New Paper understands that police are investigating this as a case of misadventure.

Police investigating the death of a student believed to be due parkour (Berita Harian, 22 Oct 2015)

POLICE are investigating the incident that caused the death of a female Spectra secondary school student believed to be involved in a hazardous activity. 

Spectra Sec Girl Could Have Died From Doing Parkour (Goody Feed Team, 22 Oct 2015)

..was believed to have fallen from the fourth floor to her death from doing parkour.. 

Girl dies after falling from school building (NewsLite, 22 Oct 2015)

..is believed to have fallen to her death while attempting to perform a parkour move in Spectra Secondary School, local media reported.

No police confirmation that teen’s death was due to parkour (Yahoo News, Oct 22 2015) Alycia Lim

Press reports indicate that ..who died from injuries following a fall is believed to have been a failed parkour attempt.

However, despite media reports, police are still classifying the case as unnatural death.

Teens Mock Death Of Shina Hendricks, Claimed She Died Because Of A Dare (Rilek1Corner, Oct 22 2015)

Recently the media reported on the…Speculation is rife that X fell from the fourth storey, while trying to do parkour. Police are investigating this as a case of misadventure.

There have also been murmurs that X was doing parkour on a dare when she fell. Facebook exchanges between several individuals acquainted with Shina suggest that they had been part of a group that had dared Shina to carry out a stunt as a dare.

One girl even had posted that she “[has her] popcorn ready and waiting for the news to say that someone just committed suicide”.

They even posted messages which disrespected the deceased and did not show any remorse at all.

Shina’s sister, Rina Hendricks, was distraught by her death and lay the blame on those who were “trending” Shina. According to X sister, X does not have any interest in parkour.

What really happened to X? Who are responsible for her death?

Media Analysis (22 Oct 2015)

HEADLINES

TNP (M) directly linked parkour to the girl’s death.

Zaobao (M), Bertia Harian (M), and Goody Feed (NM) suggested parkour as a suspected reason for the girl’s death.

NewsLite (NM) and ST (M) posted a neutral headline.

Yahoo News (NM) gave a headline suggesting the possibility of the girl’s death not being linked to parkour.

Rilek1Corner (NM) claimed the girl’s death was due to a dare.

CONTENT

Zaobao (M), ST (M), TNP (M), NewsLite (M) and Goody Feed (NM) stated that it was “believed” the girl had died from doing parkour.

Bertia Harian (M) suspected the girl was involved in a “hazardous activity” which resulted in her death.

Yahoo News (NM) stated that “despite media reports”, the police has still classified the case as unnatural death.

Rilek1Corner (CJ) showed social media postings of the girl’s sister who stated the former had no interest in parkour (*differed from the mainstream media portrayal of the girl’s death as linked to parkour), as well as a posting of a teen who mocked the girl’s death, and seemed to belong to a group that had dared the girl to carry out a stunt.

Who is the most guilty?

TNP was the only news site with headlines that linked the girl’s death directly to parkour.

Who is the most credible?

Yahoo News did not buy into the trend of media reports linking the girl’s death to a parkour, choosing to wait for more information to shed light on the case.

23 October 2015

Death fall from school building: Girl ‘was not into extreme sport’ (ST, 23 Oct 2015) 5am Calvin Yang

Girl ‘was not into extreme sport’ (AsiaOne, 23 Oct 2015) Calvin Yang [*repost of the ST article of the same date]

Fall victim’s aunt: We believe classmate dared her to perform stunt (TNP, 23 Oct 2015) 6am Tan Tam Mei

Morning call, October 23 2015 (TMG, Oct 23 2015)

It now seems that..wasn’t into extreme sports but might be responding to a dare from a bully. These are, of course, allegations but it seems easy enough for the school to check on the male classmate whom a relative claimed had been picking on her for over a year.

AUNT OF DECEASED SPECTRA STUDENT: SHE WAS BEING BULLIED BY A BOY IN SCHOOL (All Singapore Stuff, Oct 23 2015) 539pm

According the family.. X was not into any “extreme sports” before her death. Their views contrasted with the mainstream media reporting which seemed to blame her death on her attempt to jump from the 4th storey of the school building to the 3rd storey as part of a parkour stunt.

Deceased Spectra student was being bullied in school, says aunt (theAsianParent) [*Content taken from ST articles]

Media Analysis (23 Oct 2015)

Mainstream news sources gave an unexpected revelation, reporting that the girl’s family stated she was not a physical person, nor into physical sports like Parkour, and that she did not even rollerblade. Her family claimed a male classmate of hers who have been bullying her for the past year could have possibly issued her a dare, though they did not elaborate further.

All Singapore Stuff (CJ) initial speculations of the girl being bullied was thus proven true.

TMG (NM) like the Yahoo Team, had made a smart move – with the former choosing to briefly report on the matter only after more light was shed on it, while the latter took a factual and neutral stand throughout their reportings of the matter.

25 Oct 2015

[*..] – are my subjective analysis of what I felt were the intentions of the writer in framing the article, and the influence they had wanted to place on the readers mind.

‘Parkour risky? It’s safer than you think’ (ST, 25 Oct 2015) 5am Seow Bei Yi

Local practitioners defend sport linked to death of 14-year-old student last week [*This statement seems to be strategically phrased, and intentionally placed at the top of the article to make the readers perceive local practitioners of parkour as unsympathetic and insensitive in light of the girl’s death]

Parkour is safer than most people think, say local practitioners.

Those into the sport said it was not fair [*make readers perceive parkour practitioners as insolent] to link jumping from one floor to another with parkour ..They estimate that there may be up to 300 parkour practitioners here.

.. they do occasionally get complaints from residents when they practise in residential estates such as Bedok and Buangkok. [*Parkour = public disturbance in readers minds]

Parkour practitioner Benjamin Matchap, a 22-year-old student who has been doing the sport for eight years, said that it is not unusual for people to be approached by the police when practising with others, because of residents’ complaints that it may be dangerous. [*Parkour = danger in readers minds]

But he said: “We learn about the risks, understand our bodies, and we know how to go further from there.

“Parkour practitioners respect their environment a lot – it’s our playground,” he said. “We’re not going to break or destroy things. In fact, we appreciate the architecture and we interact with it.”

Parkour is not about daring: Coach (AsiaOne, 25 Oct 2015) [repost of TNP’s article on Oct 23] Tan Tam Mei

SINGAPORE – Parkour coach Derrick Siu, 42, who has four years’ experience in the sport, said: “In a school environment, students might face peer pressure and such dares are how they could get injured.

“People need to realise that the stunts they see in action movies are not real life. You need to train and dedicate many hours of your life to do them.

Weighing in on Tuesday’s accident, the founder of parkour academy Superfly Monkey Dragons added: “We need to highlight the issue of peer pressure in schools and create a more accepting community for students.

“I won’t call this parkour because in parkour we won’t dare each other, we encourage each other. And if we know that you’re not ready, we won’t ask you to do a stunt.”

In a Facebook post yesterday evening, Parkour Singapore, the official group for local parkour practitioners, sent its condolences to Shina’s family.

The post also said its members “have yet to find any links between Shina and (the parkour) community”, and while they did “not want to boldly make any confirmation that, Shina (was) or (wasn’t) doing parkour”, there is a need to “prevent this tragedy from happening again”.

Parkour coach weighs in on student who reportedly fell to her death while performing dangerous jump (STOMP, 25 Oct 2015) [*Repost of TNP Oct 23 2015 article]

How dangerous is Parkour?

Like what the professionals in the above articles said – a dare to do a stunt does not constitute to parkour as you have to be “ready” and well-trained when performing a parkour move, with the parkour community playing an encouraging and supportive role to each other. Parkour is also about discipline in terms of strengthening and training both the mind and body.

There are dangers in any sports in general and for parkour practitioners – they have dedicated themselves to training for many hours or even years before performing such stunts and as such, they are able to learn how to assess the risks, understand their bodies, and know how far to push the boundaries. 

What or who resulted in the girl’s death?

If we are to consider the definition of parkour (*as stated by parkour coach Derrick Siu), and the family mentioning that the girl was not a physical person, nor into physical sports, parkour can be therefore ruled out as the possibility of what caused the girl’s death.

What the girl’s family and various press claims e.g. being bullied, being dared are merely speculations, and might or might not have been the direct cause of her death. What the police find may also not shed full light of what actually happened.

Since we have no means to ask the girl, the only people able to answer this question are the girl’s schoolmates who have knowledge of what actually went on that very fateful day. They and the school teachers would also be the ones who are more aware of the relations the girl had with her social environment e.g. her personality, class dynamics, bullying issues.

Credibility of Media Sources – What can be improved on?

The mainstream media did checked with various accounts (e.g. Police, family) but nonetheless, they should have found out more about parkour from professionals themselves, instead of linking the case and death of the girl to parkour without accurate knowledge of the sport.

The majority of the non-mainstream media with the exceptions of a few, should have taken the initiative to directly check with other sources (family, police, school, parkour organizations) for validity, instead of fully believing and extracting direct information from mainstream sources.

For both mainstream and non-mainstream media, they could have waited for the right time to post up the news e.g. after having adequate factual information and double-checking with various sources for more details. If the news sites had felt the need to post up the news promptly – they should have taken a neutral and objective stand, instead of making unverified speculations even before more light was shed on the incident.

CONCLUSION

Both mainstream and non-mainstream media are equally as guilty in their rash and inaccurate media portrayal of this saga. The former which reaches out to the mainstream masses – and usually deemed as the one with more “credibility”, should have taken a more responsible approach in their journalism reporting. The latter on the other hand, should also not have blindly extracted news content from mainstream media sources without double checking on the validity of the information themselves.

1 Most credible news site in the saga’s portrayal: A tie between Yahoo News and All Singapore Stuff1

Investigation results

Quoted from Girl’s death not due to stunt (ST, 7 April 2016):

What led to the case entanglement with parkour?

There was no evidence that a 14-year-old girl who died after falling four floors at Spectra Secondary School in October last year had attempted a parkour stunt, despite allusions to this on social media, a coroner said yesterday.

Shina Adriana Hendricks Jones had instead voluntarily taken up a challenge to climb over a parapet, but she lost her balance and fell.

“The allusions to parkour, taunting, bullying or being out on a dare to undertake a dangerous stunt are not borne out by subsequent investigations,” he said. “These may be attributed to the pervasive and perplexing power of the Internet, and social media in particular, to spread memes, and proliferate accounts that may not necessarily accord with reality, and consequently shape impressions that are coloured or distorted.” 

But a photo of her sitting on the ledge on top of a building, which she posted on her Facebook page, might have sparked an impression of her interest in parkour. The photo was shared by many online, which caused Shina to be upset, and she deactivated her Facebook account, the court heard.

What actually happened?

A group of male students, who saw a classmate stretching his left leg on the railing at a corridor near the toilet, jokingly challenged him to stand on the parapet, on the other side of the railing. When pressured, he retorted: “You all talk so much, you all do lah”.

The comment was not directed at anyone in particular, but Shina, who was standing behind the group, went forward and told the classmate that she could do it. At about 9.20am, Shina, who was 1.54m tall and weighed 53kg, climbed over the 1.13m-tall railing. She landed on the parapet, but lost her balance and fell about 12m to the ground.

The student was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where doctors found traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and multiple fractures of the skull. She was transferred to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the afternoon, but her condition worsened and she died shortly after midnight.

Could she have possibly been bullied?

Two schoolmates, who were close to Shina, told police investigators that she was not someone who was easily bullied and would fight back if picked on. They also said she never expressed any interest in parkour – a sport in which practitioners get from one point to another in the fastest possible way, using moves such as climbing walls and jumping over obstacles.

 

To check out more of Offbeat Perspectives posts on Singapore’s media landscape and censorship, click HERE

Visit out main page www.offbeatpolitics.wordpress.com for our latest political/media landscape articles 🙂

1

Click  HERE if you want to check out our Facebook page for new updates 🙂

If you are a news source that wishes to repost our article, please credit it back to “Offbeat Perspectives” with a link to the original article and Offbeat Perspectives Facebook page. If not, we will kindly ask you to take down your post 🙂

Picture taken from: Rojak Site

Advertisements

One thought on “[Investigative Journalism] “Parkour” Saga: How credible are our local news sites?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s