His research interests centre on freedom of expression, especially in connection to journalism and public discourse. He studies censorship, media systems and alternative media. His current research focuses on religious intolerance and its implications for freedom of expression. His latest book is Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press, 2016).
He has had visiting positions at Singapore Management University and the University of Hong Kong. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and an academic writing resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, Italy.
Before joining academia, he was a journalist at The Straits Times, where he wrote mainly on politics and served as the art and photo editor for three years. Early in his career, he twice won the company's Feature of the Year Award. He continues to practise professional journalism as the editor and publisher of What’s Up, an independent monthly current affairs newspaper for children, which was honoured for editorial excellence by the Society of Publishers in Asia in 2006.
He takes an interest in media policy and reform, and is actively engaged in forums on freedom of expression in Asia. He blogs on Singapore media and politics at freedomfromthepress.info and airconditionednation.com, and on Asian media issues at mediaasia.info. He was a member of the Media Literacy Council under Singapore's Ministry of Communication and Information (2012-14), and part of “Bloggers 13”, a group lobbying for greater internet freedom. His other civil society contributions include serving as a founding member of The Roundtable in the 1990s.
He received his Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. He has a Masters from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and a B.A. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. He is an old boy of St Andrew’s Junior and Secondary Schools, and Hwa Chong Junior College.
He served his full-time National Service as a corporal in the Singapore Armed Forces, never managing to pass the standing broad jump.
He is married to Zuraidah Ibrahim, a fellow journalist