Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.Matthew 7:14, KJV
“Strait” here in the bible refers to a place or space of limited capacity (cramped) – ie. Narrow. Hence most modern English translations would say “narrow” is the gate. Hence, the word then came into modern English as meaning a thin narrow strip of water body that connects 2 larger water bodies.
The idea of “dire straits” is derived from this situation of being constrained severely. Which kind of amuses me when I think about the English daily broadsheet newspaper in Singapore. It was established in 1845 and was not that profitable, kind of bumbling along until it became a joint-stock company in 1900s. For more details, you can read up here.
What tickled me was the idea of calling the daily papers “lean times” or “cramped times” in Singapore when it was still a tiny colony though no doubt having a good standing within the British empire and politically important to say the least. Perhaps it was just the intent of those literary geniuses who kept reverting to that name despite it being changed on several ocassions.
More relevant today, I think perhaps there is a role for the mainstream media to focus more and more on local community, local topics, and sharing stories on the challenging and difficult times we live in. Channel News Asia can be left to cover the more regional/global reach, and The Straits Times can then finally live up to its name.