Why the new media a reminder for MSM

Today’s (June 8th) piece in the New Sunday Times reflects the nagging concern of BN politicians and their allies about the role of the new media in the recent election and also their future direction.


Titled ‘New media spurring the winds of change’, the feature article displays views aired by Minister of Information Ahmad Shabery Cheek, chief executive officer of MCA’s Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research, Ms Fui K Soong, professor of communication of International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) (and also its Rector), Syed Arabi Idid, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar, ‘a BN election strategist’, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah. The list of the interviewees brings into question the ‘balance’ of the report presented by the newspaper. For all intents and purposes, Sivarasa is the sole dissenting voice.


Obviously the new media, such as blogs and websites that are either anti-BN or critical of the dominant party, have become a big worry to BN politicians and their friends who feel that some of these new media have been able to ‘manage’ public perception of the BN particularly in the recent general election to the point that they (the new media) gain a degree of trust of the general public.


Prof. Syed Arabi Idid, who leads IIUM’s Election Studies Unit, asserted among other things that many blogs ‘were negative about the BN’. Perhaps here one needs to make a fine distinction between blogs that are downright and rabidly anti-BN and the ones that are critical of BN and provide informed arguments. In other words, it would be unfair to lump both kinds of blogs together.


It’s true that the focus of this article is on the new media; however, it should not run away from addressing the fact that the ‘misdeeds’ of the mainstream press have to a large extent brought about the prominence of the new media in the recent past of our country. To be sure, there are also elements of truths and half-truths that are combined and presented as ‘objective’ news by the mainstream press as a whole.


Put another way, the distortion and misinformation carried by the mainstream press have sparked a proliferation of websites and blogs that attempt to play in varying degrees the role of alternative sources of information and views.


This is why it is crucial for Sivarasa in this interview to have reiterated a point already made by other concerned Malaysians: one of the solutions to the problem of unaccountable and unfair websites and blogs is the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act so that a free and responsible press could accommodate the needs of information-hungry Malaysians.


It needs to be said here that solely criticising the unfairness in the new media, although pertinent in itself, does not redress the equally unfair treatment practised within the mainstream press. Indeed, this should be a wake-up call for the MSM, their owners and the powers-that-be.




1 Response to “Why the new media a reminder for MSM”

  1. 1 AL 5 July 2008 at 1:40 pm


    We like this post and would like to feature it in our news website: http://mylivingwall.com

    Keep up blogging!

    All the best

    mylivingwall.com team

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