Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Minister Zainuddin, Move With The Times Please.

Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said Tuesday the Malaysian media was developing well but added that he was unhappy with newspapers that changed their identity just to become popular. He said the media development in the country was progressing well in many ways, with newspapers moving from broadsheet to tabloid in the effort to be better and carrying more quality articles. "But what I am not happy with is the tendency to be a popular paper. This worries me. Some change to become popular, losing their identity along the way. When you lose your identity, you lose your loyal readers. That is what I see ... this is my worry." (Bernama)

**** If any media person were to tell me that he or she is not interested in popularity but wanted the newspaper to be informative and educational, I'll probably tell that person to take a hike. Popularity is very, very important. If you don't have readers in the first place who are you going to educate? If newspapers and magazines have changed their external appearance to reflect the changing tastes of their readers then it makes business sense. If the contents and the style in which it is presented has also changed it shows that the media people are in 'synch' with their readers. They know what is required of them and they deliver. This is what happens the world over where the old inevitably has to give way to the new.

To say that by being 'popular' you lose your identity and therefore as a result you lose your loyal readers is not necessarily true. For an aging paper which refuses to see the writing on the wall and stubbornly hangs on to old practices, the 'loyal' readers must have either died, gone senile or shifted their loyalties to a more practical and interesting source. To not change is to lose your relevance, prestige and authority.

The Minister must belong to the old school where perhaps change is abhorred and discouraged. Do you know that many people are afraid of change even after being shown proof that it is for the better? Call it stubbornness, inflexibility or plain stupidity, but there are those who will not change.

The Minister also said local media practitioners should not be easily influenced by foreign opinions which had a different set of values. This, in my opinion is nothing but oft-repeated disinformation or at least misinformation that makes little sense. There is no 'value' or 'values' that we in Malaysia or 'Easterners' have patented that somehow separates us from 'them'. It is merely a finger-pointing device created to explain away any difficult or uncomfortable questions that may come the way of die-hard opponents of change and modernization for the better.

You have to move with the times Minister or the tides of change may sweep you and all those who subscribe to your view and deposit you in a metaphorical island where nothing changes while the rest of the world advances ever onward.


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3:02 AM GMT+8  

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