Media must be independent for a democratic press

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 10 Oct 2018

Taylor's University school of communication media and communication public lecture series organised Forum on Emerging Media Policies and Regulations in New Malaysia with speakers (from right) Malaysian Press Institute chief executive officer Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya, Nottingham University Malaysia Campus media and communications studies professor Prof Zaharom Nain and Astro Awani deputy editor-in-chief Kamarul Bahrin Haron. -Sam Tham/The Star

SUBANG JAYA: There will be some changes in the “new” Malaysia landscape, which will benefit journalism, said the Malaysian Press Institute.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya said he was optimistic of this.

To have a democratic press, he said all media must be independent and free.

“Secondly, (we have) to tackle the issue of ownership. The challenge for whoever owns a media organisation in the future is how they lead with this framework in mind.

“Sometimes, the question of freedom will be compromised,” he told a packed auditorium of students at Taylor’s University public lecture series titled “Emerging Media Policies and Regulations in New Malaysia” yesterday.

He said the future was online, advising students to be prepared to become online journalists.

Nottingham University Malaysia Campus media and communications studies professor Prof Zaharom Nain said one must understand the context in which the media operated.

“The question we need to raise is – are we having new policies based on old ideologies, or are we looking at new policies on new ideologies, or old ideologies based on old policies?

“These changes can be complex so I would argue that it’s not a new Malaysia but a work in progress.

“We as citizens need to be vigilant. There’s potential that needs to be realised,” he said.

Prof Zaharom said if the country looked at media organisations as legal, technical and commercial entities, “we forget that they are not just economic goods but also provide ideological meanings that we need to be clear and cautious about”.

On bias reporting, he said changes could not be expected overnight.

“It will take time for the media to provide more balanced news,” he said, adding that “biasness is everywhere”.

“On viral news over social media, the only way to solve it is to check, check and recheck against various sources.

“We are a lazy bunch of audience who will just forward (the message). Now that there are more sources, we are able to verify (the news),” he said.

Saying that biases in news reporting was inherent, Dr Chamil said he hoped journalists would abort the practice.

Also present at the lecture was Astro Awani deputy editor-in-chief Kamarul Bahrin Haron, who was a panellist.

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