Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mainstream Media Need Not Ape Websites, Bloggers - PM

Mainstream media in the country need not compete with websites and "bloggers" on the Internet to publish speculative and sensational materials and news, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday. Instead, they should bear the heavy responsibility of conveying information to the people with the realisation on the need not to report on anything that could invite reactions or create unhealthy situation, the prime minister said.

"People will still refer to what is reported by the mainstream newspapers. Therefore, it is important for newspapers to be mindful of their role, don't be swayed to publish sensational news posted by this website and that," he told reporters. Abdullah was elaborating on the contents of his speech which dwelled at length on the role and media management in the context of meeting its social obligations in the country.

Stressing that the mainstream media wielded influence and the people's attention, he said: "No need to compete (with websites). Want to compete for what...don't write untrue news, speculative reports based on false information."

**** Of course the PM has a point, especially on the 'sensational' aspect. Some of the ridiculous news reports and speculation coming from the internet too has contributed to the realisation that perhaps it is better to rely on the mainstream media for 'authentic' information. The mainstream media as far as the average Malaysian is concerned has lacked credibility for a long time especially under Mahathir when only pro-government news was published. Now things seem much better and if the PM has urged mainstream newspapers to be 'less' sensational it can only mean that there is more freedom and leeway for them to publish.

The reverse however is happening at internet sites. Where at one time Malaysians, who hungry for some 'real' news, looked to the internet for reliable information not reported locally, are increasingly becoming jaded at the sometimes rubbish being spewed out irresponsibly in the name of freedom. There is only so much of racial, political and religious vitriol that reasonable persons can take before they say "enough is enough."

The time is not too far off, if it is not here already, when any news originating from the net will have the same credibility as that accorded to the mainstream media during the Mahathir heydays.

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