20091012

Blogs Gaining Upperhand In 'Battle' Against Conventional Media ?

By Syed Azwan Syed Ali

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 (Bernama) -- It has to be admitted that blogs, which are part of the new generation media, have wielded great influence and swayed the thinking among the Malaysian public.

For certain reasons, blogs have gradually but distinctly usurped the influence that used to be exerted by the conventional media such as television, radio and newspapers.

The emergence of streams of blogs has reflected the society's awareness on the importance of having information but unfortunately this 'leeway' has provided the room for manipulation by irresponsible quarters.

Such a situation gives rise to a poser.

To what extent that the trials and tribulations created by this new media has its impacts on the society and nation, and what is its repercussions on the people's thinking?

Universiti Malaya's (UM) Media Studies Faculty lecturer Prof Madya Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah said the new media is like a 'new trust' that traverses all boundaries of politics, economy, culture, ethnicity and religion.

"It is embraced by almost all of the people in the world," he told Bernama here.

This new media wielded great influence over the younger generation as they are IT-savvy and have the 'urge to know'.

Hence there are concerns among the authorities that parties with vested interest would manipulate this new media to benefit their subversive aims and objectives.

A recent example was how blogs were manipulated to create friction in the Malaysia-Indonesia ties. Even though this was not reported in the local media, but those who frequented the cyber world knew about it.

In Malaysia where the population is multi-ethnic, the challenges posed by this new media is seen to be getting more critical.

NOT TOTALLY INDEPENDENT

In Malaysia, there is no screening for this new media which is based in the Internet.

Malaysians are given the liberty and access to gain whatever information they want apart from airing their views online via blogs and news portals as provided by the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998.

This Act also empowers the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission as well as the police to haul up those who breached the rules.

Among the provisions of the Act on this are Section 211 and Section 233 on repulsive and obscene contents as well as abuse of the network facilities and services respectively.

Among that barred by the above sections are all forms of obscene comments, views and suggestions as well as other abhorent communications. Also included are all forms of threats that meant to hurt, dishonour and bring disrepute to others.

As of July this year, the authorities have investigated 52 cases under sections 233/211 that involved e-mails and websites.

According to the Commission, the authorities have charged 11 cases in court that involved eight individuals alleged to have sent comments that insulted the Sultan of Perak.

Even in the United States, there were bloggers who were hauled up for breaching the country's laws.

CYBER THREAT

In Malaysia, the cyber threat is on the rise and this has drawn the attention of Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

According to Dr Rais, this cyber threat has turned to be more grievous than the visible dangers as it can infiltrate the minds of the younger generation undetected.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Professor of Information Communication Technology, Prof Dr Musa Abu Hassan agreed with this.

He said the younger generation would be easily swayed as they are not matured enough to differentiate between the truth and baseless allegations.

"Internet access is wide and expansive. Every people has access to it.

"Blogs give freedom to the people and they feel not tied up to the conventional media which has restraints and shackles," he said.

He said the 'media convergence' like Youtube.com that combines texts and visuals also made the new generation to prefer the new media which is more dynamic.

"What begins as a mere blog that has personal touch has turned into social partnership," said Prof Musa, adding that the younger generation viewed the conventional media as only representing certain groups.

Saiful Nujaimi Abdul Rahman in his book "Kewartawanan Malaysia: Praktis dan Cabaran" (Malaysian Journalism: Practices and Challenges) wrote that when reading blogs, the readers were unable to differentiate between information and facts.

The UPM lecturer in communications wrote for information, truth, ambiguousity and confusion came together while facts were had gone through the process of screening.

"By logic, can we trust information that came from unreliable sources like that which has no publication licence, no news reporting integrity and no responsibility about what was reported," Saiful Nujaimi wrote in his book.

INFLUENCE ON YOUTHS

The emergence of this new media is closely linked to the younger genration where a recent study revealed that this group spent 16 hours a week to surf the Internet with or without being noticed by their parents.

This has opened up the room for pornography and has become the attention of the Information communication and Culture Ministry.

However the government's 'gullibility' towards practitioners of the new media should not be abused and turned into a licence to spread lies against any parties including the authorities.

In this context, the younger generation should be wise enough to be selective over what is being offered in the Internet despite a survey that showed only about 23 per cent readers of blogs believed what was written in them.

According to Prof Musa:"We should be aware on the sensitivity of the involved parties when giving comments or views".

He said the existing Acts are sufficient to monitor the cyber world in the country.

The words of Dr Abu Hassan summed up all. "The media should be for the benefit of all and not the otherwise".

-- BERNAMA

1 comment:

andrews said...

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