The passage of time has a way of throwing custard pies at those who predict the future. This is particularly true in the hype-ridden world of the media. In the 1940s, the Hutchins Commission, an august body of public intellectuals, predicted that the facsimile newspaper delivered by wireless would rejuvenate the American press. In the 1970s, citizen’s band radio was said authoritatively to be ‘‘taking the US by storm’’, and was poised to recreate a sense of community. In 1982, Britain’s Technology Minister, Kenneth Baker, informed the Commons that cable television ‘‘will have more far-reaching effects on our society than the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago’’. In the 1990s, American industry experts like Tom Laster said that the CD-Rom was going to spell the end of the book in schools. And in the mid-1990s through to the mid-2000s, it was predicted repeatedly that red button TV interactivism was leading to a fundamental shift of power from the TV director to the consumer in the home (Curran J, 2010).
Yeah all that didn’t happen did it? So I would stop trying to predict what holds for us in the future when it comes to the media. But that isn’t the big issue here, oh no. The big issue here is about where we prefer to get our news from now. I like how George here puts it ‘‘For many years’’, he writes, ‘‘the local press has been one of Britain’s most potent threats to democracy, championing the overdog, misrepresenting democratic choices, defending business, the police and local elites from those who seek to challenge them’’. There are, he suggests, a handful of decent local newspapers. But in general, ‘‘this lot just aren’t worth saving’’ because they ‘‘do more harm than good’’ (Monbiot, 2009). This is very similar to what we are going through in Malaysia thus the younger generation has seek to user generated news instead rather than local newspaper heck even some older generation has seek user generated news as well.
User-generated communication is situational and contextual, as it usually brings together groups of people based on interest and opportunity (Quandt, 2011). This like Malaysiakini, a group of people who decided enough was enough and launched the first and most influential online news portal in Malaysia. Who in the past 10 years, it has established itself as a major online media player in the country with its speedy, in-depth coverage of on-going political issues in the country, culminating in its hugely successful reporting of the March 2008 general election which saw a massive change in the nation’s political landscape (Khabilan, 2009). And blogging as well has also become a tool for disseminating news (other than becoming an online dairy for all to read), reflecting its role as an alternative source of information, ideas, and opinions. In Malaysia, politically contentious Malaysian bloggers write stories and voice opinions not represented, or underrepresented, in the mainstream media, while also offering critical readings of how issues and events are addressed and discussed (Smeltzer, nd).
So with all that going on, what does the Malaysian government do to curb all this? They came up with Section 114A, which is an amendment to Malaysia’s Evidence Act 1950, which enables law enforcement officials to hold one accountable for publishing seditious, defamatory, or libellous content online, as long as the allegedly defamatory content is traced back to one’s username, electronic device, and/or WiFi network. Well that’s a hit below the belt move isn’t it? Senior criminal lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon states that “the silver lining here is that 114A teaches people social responsibility, which is sadly lacking in the new IT age.” (Sharanjit, 2012) Yeah let that quote sink in for just a minute, ready? Look below for my opinion on this.
In my humble opinion, yes people need to be more responsible of what they say on the internet (we have too many stupid people on the net) but if that person has evidence to back-up their claims why should they be prosecuted or whatsoever? If they go through with this act won’t many of the local newspaper journalists be prosecuted as well (their news do end up on their own news portal right?)?
So what does the future holds for journalism? For me I think it is just going to get a lot more interesting from here as traditional paper struggle to stay alive in a time where information is disseminated ever so quickly and probably stick around at best a decade or so but user generated content would grow and become a preferred choice of information for the people.
Curran, J 2010, ‘The Future of Journalism’, Journalism Studies, Vol.11, No. 4, pp 464-476
Monbiot, G 2009, ‘‘I, Too Mourn Good Local Newspapers. But this lot just aren’t worth saving’’, Guardian, 9 November, accessed 17/4/2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/09/local-newspapers-democracy
Khabilan, K 2009, ‘New Media, Citizen’s Journalism and Democracy: The Malaysiakini Project’, Media Asia, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp156-158
Sharanjit, S 2012, ‘Section 114A can be both sword, shield’, New Straits Times, 26 August, accessed 17/4/2013, http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/section-114a-can-be-both-sword-shield-1.129309
Smeltzer, S 2008, ‘Blogging in Malaysia: Hope for democratic Technology?’, Journal of International Communication, Vol. 14, No.1, pp28-45
Quandt, T 2011, ‘Understanding a New Phenomenon: The significance of participatory journalism’, in JB Singer, A Hermida, D Domingo, A Heinonen, S Paulssen, T Quandt, Z Reich & M Vujnovic (eds.), Participatory Journalism in Online Newspapers: Guardian Open gates Newspapers, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex, pp155-176