My Anthem

Saturday, May 04, 2013

MEDIA WATCH: new horizons post-GE13?

FROM: Hornbill Unleashed
May 4, 2013
GE13 aftermath: The new mass media
Filed under: Politics,PRU 13 Election — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: Anak Sarawak Bangsa Malaysia, Barisan Nasional, Human rights, Malaysia Politics, Pakatan Rakyat, Save Sabah, Save Sarawak
H. Lee

It is common knowledge that the majority of our mainstream media is skewed towards the ruling political coalition, simply because they own it and have clout to call the shots. It therefore comes as no surprise that some newsworthy events never see the light of day in such media simply because the editors toe the line of their masters.

What surprised me though was that The Star published advertisements by the Barisan Nasional (BN) in blatant attempts to influence the people to reject Pakatan Rakyat (PR). In advertising, we sell the advantages and benefits of our products or service, not run down our competitors’ products or service.

So, this BN advertisement of scaring the people with “A Vote for DAP is a Vote for PAS” is perhaps the lowest one can go. Where are the Malaysian Code of Advertising and Home Ministry guidelines? It is akin to Singapore putting an advertisement in their local newspapers warning the people against shopping in Johor Baru because of the increasing crime rate just across the Causeway. If that happens, we can expect some legal suits to follow.

Similarly, we hear of “bad taste” commercials on 988FM and other radio stations controlled by the MCA. So much so that even their deejays not just blushed but resorted to a silent protest via Facebook. I reckon some of these deejays can anticipate a termination of service soon.

Much as many of us do not agree with the tit-for-tat attempts by the DAP to publish similar advertisements in the mainstream media, the bigger shock we had was that the MCA- and Umno-controlled media actually declined business from the opposition, meaning forgoing advertisement revenue. Most of us are not even a minority shareholders of those media, so that loss of revenue does not matter to us, too. (At this time or writing, The Star defended itself that it felt “uneasy with the design of the print advertisement as it clearly violated the Malaysian Code of Advertising and Home Ministry guidelines”.)

So, what will happen after GE13? There are two possible scenarios.

If BN remains in power, we can expect more ridiculous use of the mainstream media controlled by the MCA or Umno — be it for news or advertisements. After all, there are precedents of advertisement or commercials running down your competitors’. Non-political-party-aligned ones like Sin Chew Jit Poh, which published the DAP advertisement, can expect a showcause letter from the Home Ministry on why their licence should not be suspended or revoked.

If PR comes to power, there will be issuance of new media licences, and new players will give the veterans in the industry a run for their money. It is about time. I even envisage a print edition of MalaysiaKini and The Malaysian Insider, among others, at the newsstands. And there will be reporters, editors, sub-editors and columnists “jumping ship” the way politicians do after a national election.

With options of new media to provide us balanced news reporting, we can expect a change in readership or listenership patterns of the current existing media. The time will come when advertisers decide whether or not to continue supporting the biased newspapers and radio stations, with a declining readership or listenership. They now have the option of the new players, hungrier for and more appreciative of the revenue once declined by the old players.

I wait in anticipation of the GE13 outcome. I would like to see the demise of some of these old media.

DESIDERATA: As I had observed since Nominations Day, every General Elections sees the people entering or witnessing a SEASON OF MADNESS, and the mass media, especially the print and electronic media like Radio and Television, would behave ABNORMALLY. There is NO SUCH THING AS JOPURNALISM ETHICS as it is the POLITICAL MASTERS who control the message as they also control the journalists' pay! (AND the know-all EDITORS ARE ALL PROUDER OF THE Datuk or Datuk Seri anchor fronting their names, their parents' bestowed nama enjoy second place. I even know of an ex-newsdog who changed his Chinese name to a Malay sounding one -- WHY, you dare ask? HOW does Desi answer thee? Go seek out that half Malaysian and half-Ozzie!

Of the English newspapers i monitor, I must give some credfit that THE SUN does have a more balanced reportage and commentary contrasted with the UMNO organ that is NST and the MCA appendage that is The Star. Maybe The Sun has a sterling investigative and special Reporting head in CITIZEN-NADES, his input and reputation must count for something.

Post GE13, Desi also wants to see a  media environment that is more liberal and open and transparent, AND FAIR AND BALANCED IN TELLING BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY, especially reporting and commenting on POLITICS and POLITICAL PARTIES. Total neutrality is an ideal quite unachievable, but for a start, MEDIA OWNERSHIP by individuals and entities MUST BE RESTRICTED TO A MAXIMUM LIMIT, like 10 PERCENT, so no individual or group can control or even dictate the policies or direction that the particular media moves. Malaysians must dream the dream we will be CHANGING FOR THE BETTER, and  writers like Desi whose whole working life has been in journalism and public affairs will hopefully see the dawn of a new age in journalism post-GE13 I will be proud to associate with. ~~ YL, Desi

PS: WHY you may ask are my HIGHLIGHTS AWE in RED TODAY? My democratic choice, and more importantly, Come May 6, I dream of celebrating it as a RED-LETTER DAY!

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