Asia Pacific Media Educator


Widely regarded as an anomaly in the neo-authoritarian system in Malaysia, Malaysiakini.com is proving that managing an independent media in a government-managed media landscape is more than a Sisyphean struggle. Employing participant observation and interviews, supplemented by artifacts and media accounts, this study seeks to understand the media management of Malaysiakini.com through news management, using Shoemaker and Reese’s (1996) hierarchy of influence model, which posits a framework of internal and external forces that affect news management. The study found determined attempts to minimize ideological influences through media socialization by accentuating on the direct influences, such as the journalists’ role in shaping content, establishing structured routines to contain possible governmental and legal backlash, and aligning organizational sustainability to editorial prerogatives. The greatest impediment to its ability to maintaining its editorial independence, however, stem from the limitations exerted by extramedia forces, such as lack of press accreditation, legal constraints, and inter-media rivalry, that collectively act as a surrogate ideology. More than just learning about Malaysiakini.com, this study provides a critical platform to explicate media management issues that alternative media face working in restrictive media environments, with the potential of developing a counter-model of how they can be managed.