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The Roles Of Mainstream Media

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3868 words Published: 9th May 2017

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The roles of mainstream media have been widely speculated. Some say the mainstream media act as a tool used to relay the government or corporate propaganda (Galt, 2011: http://johngaltfla.com/wordpress/2011/08/25/words-that-merriam-webster-dictionary-left-out-of-the-2011-u-s-edition/) while others say it simply transmits information that is of the interest of the public. However, many skeptical scholars unanimously agreed that the mainstream media is a media organ that censor the dissemination of news by distorting information through the use of bias photos, placement bias and other forms of deception that mislead viewers into drawing incorrect conclusions (conservapedia, 2012).

All in all, mainstream media are generally being perceived as an avenue for the government or controlling group to push out their policies and assume that the idea proposed generally reflects the prevailing thoughts of the majority.

Diverse opinions on the effects of mainstream media

The history of mass media can be traced back thousands years ago. Studies after studies reviewed that the media possess unfathomable effects. Some scholars perceive media as an invasive, malignant and cancerous force, having direct effects on viewers (manipulate them) while some scholars such as Paul Lazarsfeld believed that media had rarely direct influence on individuals. The introduction of Mass Society Theory, Magic Bullet Theory, Middle-range Theory, Critical Theory and many more further reinforces the idea that media plays an integral part in our lives, although some theories have been rejected as time goes by.

Far-sighted figure such as Adolf Hitler foresees the potential of media and thus, uses the radio (a mainstream media) to influence people’s belief and ultimately pushes them to act in accordance to his whims and fancies. Although Hitler’s action is one with ill-intentioned, it has proven to the world the capability mainstream media.

Mainstream media is comparatively more influential than alternative media as it is the most sought after media by the majority and thus, more people are more susceptible to mainstream media.

Ownership of mainstream media in Malaysia

Once you understand how powerful the media can be, it is not surprising to see media literates fighting over the ownership of media. The notion “Those who own the media own the minds of the people” extracted from Karl Marx’s greatest ideology once again reinforces how capable media is. With this in mind, the Malaysia government adopted the authoritarian theory by being involved directly in the State’s media ownership.

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Many media outlets are owned by individuals who have connection to the ruling coalition – BN. The ruling party justify their ownership in the mainstream media as an effort aligned with the New Economic Policy that aims to assure the participation of Bumiputera in mainstream industry and to ensure the economic growth of the nation under the leadership of the elite group.

The government or ruling party acquires or controls these media companies through various investment arms. The following list out some of the ownership of the mainstream media in Malaysia:

In the newspaper industry, the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) that publishes the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro is a subsidiary of the Fleet Holdings, an investment arm of UMNO while The Star newspaper turns out to be one of MCA most invested property (Zaharom Nain, Mustafa K. Anuar, 2008).

In the TV sector, TV3, Malaysia’s first private TV station too is under the control of 4 prominent political figures, known to be closely related to the previous Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (Zaharom Nain, Mustafa K. Anuar, 2008).

Meanwhile the Natseven TV Sdn. Bhd. or commonly known as NTV7 is owned by the Chairman of ENCORP Group, Datuk (Dr. Effendi Norwawi) who happened to be Malaysia’s former Minister of Agriculture.

Furthermore, the government also extended their reach in the satellite broadcasting field as Astro and Measat 1 are jointly owned by the Binariang Sdn. Bhd., headed by T. Ananda Krishnan, a manufacturing and horse racing tycoon who is a close friend of the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (The Star, 9/1/1996)

Based on the list of ownership mainstream media in Malaysia, it is evident that the Malaysia mainstream media has never gone out of the ruling coalition’s sight. For the past 50 years, the media was and is still closely related to the local authority.

This clearly shows that the mainstream media in Malaysia is closely related to the system of power and authority. Media is owned through political connection and that they have a say in the content of media by only allowing content that favours the ruling coalition. With ownership of media in hand, media has been regarded as the ultimate tool to reach out to mass audiences.

Role of Malaysia’s mainstream media

What is the role of mainstream media and how it operates lies significantly in the hands of the owner of that particular media. The trendsetter ultimately determines the direction of the mainstream media and its content. For instance, what it wants the media to show to the public and what it wants the media to do, i.e. promote government policies.

In Malaysia, the mainstream media is a pro-government tool. Due to the polarized system, media operators are bound to abide to the higher management, in other words, the government. If they do not do so, they might face charges under the Sedition Act, Printing and Press Publication Act, Official Secret Act and other related laws that govern the interest of the governing elites. This modus operandi of mainstream media is to advocate the government in sending the nation’s messages across to the masses. top-down hierarchy has further inhibited the voices of the opposing party.

The statement that mainstream media in Malaysia been perceived as an important agent of change for most of the government’s policies is undoubtedly true.

According to Zaharom Nain and Mustafa K. Anuar (2008) from the very first Malaysia’s newspaper, The Prince of Wales Gazette to the launching of Malaysia’s first broadcast satellite, Measat 1, the ownership of mainstream media never leaves from the sight of political figures. As such, the mainstream media has been fully utilized as a means to propagate the nation’s policies. From the NEP in 1969 to Look East Policy in the up till Vision 2020 and now the latest and most bandied about policy – 1 Malaysia.

Study reveals that media is the key player in portraying the image of 1Malaysia (Hanita Hassan, Hadina Habil, Noor Aireen Ibrahim).

Further, in their research on the roles of media in realizing ‘unity in diversity’, they believe that media has a powerful capacity to educate the public on the importance of unity by promoting cross-cultural understanding, tolerance and acceptance of other cultures and religion, the media is thus is the perfect means of communication between the public and the government.

1 Malaysia

1 Malaysia concept was introduced by our sixth Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak on 16 September 2010. It is an on-going program where it involves all Malaysians to be united so that Malaysia can become a more harmonious, peaceful and efficient country.

For this concept to be successful, it is important that all people cooperate as one but not as Sarawakian or Sabahan. 1 Malaysia concept must be applied and practiced all the time to ensure the values of acceptance, mutual understanding and the sense of belongings is engrained in each and every Malaysian’s mind.

According to YAB Dato Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the 1 Malaysia reflects how we see, how we act and how we think as Malaysians. As such, the government takes actions based on the needs of all ethnic groups in our country. No race shall be left out and all decisions made will not oppress one another.

The concept of One Malaysia is based on the principle of ‘People First, Performance Now’, which mean the government will think from the people’s perspective, put the people as their first priority and only carry out programme that benefits the people. ‘Performance now’ denotes that the government emphasizes on producing productive results, stresses on the workers’ efficiency in carrying out designated task as well as how fast and well government servants can complete a certain duty within a given timeframe.

Furthermore, the One Malaysia concept also highlights 8 core values, namely perseverance (preserve harmony and peace), acceptance (show tolerance in other race’s lifestyle, religious practices and food), education (the learning of the national language), integrity (uphold the principle of being ethical and honest), meritocracy (appreciate talented personnel), humility (be humble at all times), loyalty (pledge to serve the country and its people) and the culture of excellence (rich in culture and show commitment beyond ordinary).

One way of making the concept known is by the means of media. Media is the best tool to reach out to the public. According to S. Ramasubramaniam, he believed that the media has the potential to influence the desired racial attitudes especially for ethnics with minimal inter-racial direct contact.

Ways to encourage the acceptance of 1Malaysia concept

From NEP to Look East Policies to Vision 2020, these policies have been so widely published in almost all mainstream media.

As mentioned above, mainstream media has been effectively made use of to spread the government’s convictions, in this case, the 1Malaysia concept.

They use several methods to coerce, pacify and encourage the public in general to accept 1Malaysia. use aggressively


Let’s take The Star as an example: The Star published all sorts of news revolving around the 1Malaysia concept in an exaggerating rate. For example, the establishment of 1Malaysia clinics, introduction of 1Malaysia aid schemes and the ceremony of 1Malaysia Family Day celebration. Besides, the pictures of the current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have also been featured all the time, appearing in almost every day newspaper.

On the other hand, TV stations such as RTM 1, RTM 2 and TV3 replay video clips and Public Service Announcement (PSA) pertaining to 1Malaysia concept. Even the radio stations shove the 1Malaysia concept down our throat by repeating the 1Malaysia song and messages.

Frequent exposure to the 1Malaysia concept is a long term planning effort by the government. The media resorts to this method as they believe that through repetition, the public will be able to familiarize themselves with the concept and eventually take in the concept and further practice it in daily lives.

Furthermore, the government uses the mainstream media because they believed in Rogers’ diffusion of innovation theory whereby people at large will eventually accept 1Malaysia concept after going through the 5 stages in the diffusion process. At first, the public will be aware of the 1Malaysia concept as it has been widely publicized in the mainstream media. However, being aware is simply not enough. The concept is to be believed will be accepted by a very small group of innovators who are usually heavy media users. This trend will later on be followed by opinion leaders (early adopters) who will try to comprehend the concept themselves and if these leaders find the concept beneficial, they will eventually encourage their friends (early majority) to accept the concept. The snowball effect continues through word of mouth and reaches the late majority. After an extensive period of time, even the laggards will join in the bandwagon. Therefore, 1Malaysia concept must be aired as frequently as possible and over a significant amount of time in order of this theory to sink into the minds of the people.

Biased reporting

Secondly, mainstream media are used to encourage the acceptance of 1Malaysia by portraying good sides of 1Malaysia concept. Parts of propaganda techniques are used in this context for example, the plain folks technique under special appeals. 1Malaysia concept has generally been regarded as an ideology that is created ‘for the people’. The notion “We stand, we think and we act as Malaysians” as envisaged by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is commonly feature in the mainstream media. It carries the meaning that all people are together as one but not as separate individuals as Sarawakian or Sabahan. Besides, news featuring on citizens benefiting from the 1Malaysia aid scheme, 1Malaysia book vouchers, 1Malaysia housing loan and the list goes on and on is ubiquitous.

Besides, the mainstream media also uses transfer to associate 1Malaysia concept to a peaceful, harmonious country whereby everyone is entitled to enjoy equality. In addition, mainstream media are also used testimonial technique by quoting prominent figures, usually political figures of the National Frontier who are in support of the 1Malaysia concept.

Apart from that, based on priming effects, the media believes that how 1Malaysia concept is being presented in the media will eventually heighten the likelihood that people will develop similar thoughts about those things in the real world. To translate it into the present context, the mainstream media’s constant portrayal of the positive side of 1Malaysia concept will indirectly shape how the public in general perceives 1Malaysia. Therefore, as long as the media portray 1Malaysia as something good, beneficial and serve the interest of the public, 1Malaysia concept will be widely acceptable by the citizens of Malaysia.

Other than that, the mainstream media also try to coerce the public into accepting the 1Malalaysia concept through advertisements and video clips that uses the appeal to fear. Local TV stations such as TV1, TV2 and TV3 air the Bersih 2.0 turned riot video clip over and over again as if to convince Malaysians that this will not happen if we were to embrace the 1Malaysia concept. As such, it indirectly sends out a message that 1Malaysia acts as a reassurance that riots will not happen as 1Malaysia concept emphasizes extensively on maintaining peacefulness and harmony

The mainstream media highlight the 1Malaysia concept during ethnic festivals. It symbolizes us getting together and form a bandwagon. ‘This is what people are doing and so should you’. It is another way of the government to urge the public to assimilate the 1Malaysia concept. This scenario display people get together to uphold the 1Malaysia concept.

Excessive use of logo, slogan

The mainstream media also uses the 1Malaysia logo and slogan in a wide-ranging manner. According to Hanita Hassan, Hadina Habil, Noor Aireen Ibrahim, symbols are strong identification marker as it symbolizes the 1Malaysia concept and symbols or visuals are to be believed that leaves generally a greater impact than words. Flipped through the newspaper for example and you will see plentiful of 1Malaysia logo together with its most bandied about slogan: People first, Performance now (translated from Rakyat didahulukan, Pencapaian diutamakan). By repeatingly use of these logo and slogan, it aims to intrude into our sense of vision, thus, leave behind an impact.

Introduction of new sections

Other than that, The Star even allocates a special section, dedicated to events or programmes concerning the 1Malaysia concept. Specialized website – 1malaysia website – catering for this

Concept that is of utmost importance to the extent, they allocate a new section to cover on 1Malaysia news

Uses Agenda-setting theory as benchmark- 1Malaysia is covered frequently and prominently, the public will regard the issue as important. Therefore, government take advantage / exploit the media to implant the concept into the people’s mind.


Despite all the efforts by the mainstream media, the question whether the mainstream media has successfully generated the desired outcome of the 1Malaysia concept remains arguable.

It cannot be denied that the mainstream media has effect on the citizens of Malaysia. It does leave impact behind but only to a certain extent. The effects of mainstream media generally affect the average people. These average people are usually made up of those who are illiterate, living in rural or maybe suburban area whereby they do not have adequate access to the outside world except amenities provided by the government.

Since these people are being confined in the comfort zone built by the government, they will only see from the perspective of the government, which is how 1Malaysia concept benefits the people.

In order for 1Malaysia concept to be accepted, people must first believe in the concept itself. Government try to persuade people into accepting the concept but is it the wisest choice to use media?

In my opinion, I am not convinced as the media ownership are under the control of the government. Hence it does not give me a comprehensive, transparent report on what 1Malaysia concept is all about. All we see are the good sides of the 1Malaysia. All things are bound to have its pros and cons. It makes us question the integrity of the media

Whatever is reported tend to be biased, Confrim the statemet above: (methodƒ  bias These owners of mainstream media are all political figures / associates who is closely related – The truth – monopolize the media industry. politically used-entity. Loses its credibility in reporting nothing but the truth..

1 for people to trust them wan people to embrace the 1Malaysia and work together as one. Tyrannical make people question the integrity, accountability, reliability and credibility of media. How far can people trust the media which is publicly known to be government-sided?

However, mainstream media is not almighty!

Audiences are not passive in nature. They have a free choice. Even though Malaysians are deprived of their freedom of speech but we do have the freedom of choose. This freedom is further supported by the selective process whereby audiences can choose to expose to selected media outlet, choose to remember what is meaningful and the choice to alter the meaning to make to consistent with our pre-existing beliefs. Not do what they are told without comprehending

Deemed to chg due to personal predisposition and strongly held beliefs.

It is not necessary that they must be exposed to the mainstream media. With the advent of technology, the Internet has opened up a wide array of alternative media catering to different needs of the audience. This has allow audience to look for Malaysia Kini exposes the hidden truth behind government policies and several other socio-political blogger for example Marina Mahathir.

So does the mainstream media achieved what it wanted – frequently has put people off. Tend to switch channel. will be able to look elsewhere for sources of information. selective exposure, retention and perception

Macroscopic political economy denotes that media institution has been turned into a selling commodity. ƒ  question – put people off

With ƒ  This is exactly what the Malaysian government is doing. Critical theory explains that the dominant group, i.e. government, maintain its status quo by exerting control on the people via Repressive State Approach (RSA) and Ideological State Approach (ISA) and media is a form of ISA

Those who know operations of media – not easily susceptible to the media as they themselves know the dirty tricks, laws, acts and vicious cycle repeating itself – question the integrity, accountability, reliability and credibility of mainstream media. Question that gove’t intention.

1malayisa= media practices democratic-participant theory that advocates media support for cultural pluralism at a grass root level , to stimulate and empower pluralistic group. – developmental theory call for government and the media to work hand-in-hand to ensure that media assist in the planned, beneficial development of a country.

In short, mainstream media have effect on

So back to the question: is I would say not. Unless the ownership of media is dissolved and is equally shared among the community, separate it as an independent entity, only then can be put our faith into the mainstream media.

due to credibility, accountability, reliability. However boundaries between mainstream media is getting vague as time goes by as one new media emerges, media ownership has changed. Doubts are arising as media now portray what is desired by the controlling group instead of the voice of the masses (Under the control of media conglomerate or elites)- due to polarized system and the top-down hierarchy. Look at the ownership of media.

Media is a tool for manipulation.

Cannot be denied that media does not have effect as the very moment you are exposed to the media.

Misuse media – distort the original value of media

MSM is a polarized system, meaning one-way information to be transmitted/ passed down. This is a situation known as Agenda-setting. Diffusion of information

People see Mainstream media (MSM) as an avenue to transmit / bridge between the public and government.

Some see MSM as a tool used by those who are in power, i.e. global company owner, the government, private sector.

Media are supporting roles in gov’t policies

Acts + Media ownership ƒ  limit / put constraints


Media Prima- leading integrated media investment group. (media conglomerate) own 100% in TV3, NTV7, TV8, TV9, NSTP (The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad)ƒ  NST, The Malay Mail Berita Harian, harian Metro, Fly fm, Hot Fm, One fm

Clearly show media are generally/ widely use to propagate gov’t ideology

Discussion part: usage?? ƒ  emergence of new media

Audience are not passive. Relaisation who’s behind the mediaƒ  increase erosion of the media’s credibility

Demand for greater transparency, accountability and democracy.

Demand for proof / seek reinforcement)

Some responded that mainstream media fails to meet the communication needs of certain groups (esp minority)

Media is merely a tool

To use it wisely or to misuse it (distort it) is up to an individual and the

As long as it is under the grasp of the government, freedom of speech can never be truly realised!


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