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Friday, July 15, 2011

Rais-ing the ire of media experts

Sulaiman Kamal | 9:29 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Experts say Rais Yatim is wrong in slamming the foreign and alternative media over their reports on the Bersih 2.0 rally.

PETALING JAYA: Media experts have rapped Putrajaya’s seemingly skewed understanding of journalism, in the wake of the Bersih 2.0 protest last week.
Media Defence South East Asia (MDSEA) executive director HR Dipendra said that Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim had wrongly slammed the foreign and alternative press for its coverage of the July 9 rally.
“It only exposes the minister’s lack of global understanding of how the media in general operates,” he told FMT.

Referring to the media as the ‘Fourth Estate’, Dipendra added: “The press, tradionally, is not beholden to the government.”
“It would also suggest that the minister has a selective understanding of the media, and views it in the same light as someone who believes in a very strict and authortarian government.”
On Wednesday, Rais accused the foreign and alternative press for their allegedly inaccurate coverage of the rally.
He also claimed that these press agencies had a political agenda to portray Malaysia in a negative light.
The minister also praised the mainstream media, which he said, did a better job in reporting about the rally.
Turning the tables on Rais, Dipendra said: “It would appear that he (Rais) is ‘selective’ with his demonising of alternative and international media.”
“Is the minister saying that the mainstream media under the auspices of his administration have no agenda?” he asked referring to the political links in the mainstream media here.
Media Prima, the country’s largest media group, which controls four television networks and the New Straits Times Press, is owned by Umno.
Centre for Independent Journalism programme director Chuah Siew Eng agreed with Dipendra’s sentiments.
She said that the government was used to having media agencies under its thumb.
“It reflects the authorities’ current attitude towards any dissent of opinion. They think that the media is part of their propaganda arm,” she said.
Chuah said that it was impossible for the government to manipulate information, especially with many people experiencing the Bersih 2.0 protest for themselves.
“The implications here (for the government) is that the government and the (mainstream) media will be viewed by the public as irrelevant,” she added.
Former National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Hata Wahari sided with Chuah.
“I don’t think they have any influence with the people anymore,” said the former senior Utusan Malaysia journalist.
“The mainstream media has lost its plot. People know what happened on that day, so whatever they put out will not be relevant,” he added.



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