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Predoom of the Press in Malaysia vs the Western Countries

By Opocotbaby1 May 07, 2013 715 Words
From what I gather from my readings, the western world has 2 models that they follow in the modern-day world of media.

1) The social responsibility system
~ In the social responsibility theory of the press, the media is driven to benefit the public. It expects journalists to answer society's need for truth, requires an open and diverse debate on public issues, and honest updates of current events. In this model, media ethics is automatic because the press is free to serve its purpose for the public, as opposed to special interest groups or advertisers. Another condition of the social responsibility model is that news reporting cannot be dependent on groups that may encourage bias and unethical practices in exchange for financial support.

2) The Libertarian system
~ The Libertarian model is more popular in than the social responsibility model. In this system, the freedom of the press is endless; it is not constrained by the government, by society, or by media ethics. Instead of being a sea of different ideas, opinions, and voices however, news reporting in the Libertarian system is indeed restricted. It may not be as limited and biased as the media found in an authoritarian society, which would serve the government's interests, but it is still constrained by its financial dependence. Western media outlets, particularly television stations, rely heavily on advertisers for money, and therefore design their news reporting to support and never conflict with the will of their financial supporters. Also, because of the deregulation movement of the past fifteen years, Congress and the FCC have allowed more freedom within the telecommunications field, loosening laws that were at one time designed to ensure social responsibility and ethics in the media. Today, a large percentage of Western media outlets, especially those in America, are part of a handful of media conglomerates, companies that have to focus on increasing their profits every year. Back to this discussion and through my understanding and also readings, what differs between the “social media responsibility model” between Malaysia and the western countries is, Malaysia’s press freedom is constricted. While Malaysia has kept up with the rest of the world in technology and a prosperous economy, a truly free press in does not exist in this Southeast Asian country. Little has changed. The government still views the media as a means for promoting the government. It believes the press should not be sensational but should be a watchdog for society.

Journalists in Malaysia have to contend with many obstacles that journalists who live in other countries do not. The local and foreign journalists in Malaysia have to contend with various press laws and publications acts, as well as libel suits. It seems little change can be expected in the years to come so long as the government associates gains with a press controlled by the authorities.

The era of which Tun Mahathir Mohamed reigned as Prime Minister of Malaysia has actually curtailed and censored all “free speech” that the media wants the public to know. (In May 2001, on "World Press Freedom Day," the Committee to Protect Journalists meeting in New York City put Mahathir Mahamad on the "Top Ten Enemies of the Press" list.)

In Malaysia two opposing positions define the newspapers. The Barisan National, the ruling coalition, contrasts directly with its opposition. Press accounts suggest the Barisan is moderate and its opposition is extreme. Barisan promotes harmony among ethnic groups while the opposition creates ethnic conflict. The press in Malaysia fluctuates between ideas about democracy as ideal and the elitism that is the fact in this classist society.

In a nutshell, you can’t simply write anything under the sun without having consequences thrown back at you (hey, you could have a permanent resident at some jail if you’re not careful! Who knows?), especially on sensitive issues pertaining to the government. I have read somewhere, a survey conducted on freedom of the press for 2011, Malaysia was ranked number 144 out of so many countries worldwide, even Papua New Guinea was ranked at number 70 something.

So, the models of social responsibility media do not apply in Malaysia, for now, until the government changes the laws. After all, from what I see, we are suppressed and oppressed in that context when it comes to free speech.

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