Asia Pacific Media Educator


The mainstream media in Malaysia, as in most countries, are expected to break news to the public while an important event unfolds, or at the latest, shortly after it occurs. They are also supposed to be in the forefront, probing and pushing vital issues to centre-stage. That’s why under normal circumstances we would expect the media to analyse, for example, the implications of new legislation or amendments to existing laws or the impact of a technological or medical breakthrough. The media are also expected to provide a platform for intelligent debate among interested parties on a controversy or policy matters that are of public concern. In times of uncertainty or adversity, the role of the media to inform and enlighten the citizenry becomes all the more crucial. They should, for instance, alert if there is an outbreak of a contagious disease so that people can take steps to protect themselves. The media can also help curb rumours and speculations by giving as accurate a report as possible with balanced commentaries, especially when it comes to reporting on communal issues. This can help to cool down escalating tension and unnecessary suspicion among the various communities. These were indeed important roles that the Malaysian mainstream media had been playing to some degree. The media, however, seemed to have lost vigour and spontaneity in reporting and analysing important issues over the last few years, particularly since the days of Reformasi movement in 1998. The mainstream media appeared to have taken its “cue” from the powers-that-be before reporting on a particular issue or event.