JAN 13 — Going by Malaysia’s mainstream media coverage of the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally yesterday, a television viewer or newspaper reader can assume the organisers failed to get its targeted crowd, overfilled a stadium and participants broke the law by bringing their children.
And, oh, for some media, it was actually the Himpunan Shamsidar.
In both the Malay and English-language Sunday papers, there was no coverage of the issues of the day that drew thousands to Stadium Merdeka for three hours, or for the speakers who wanted to highlight burning issues that will be part of the election campaign this year.
How can the media be mainstream if it stops covering a major event in the capital city or even cover it honestly? Is it a wonder that the circulation and readership of some newspapers have dropped?
Have the editors of these newspapers ever wondered if they are doing a good job for their owners and the government of the day by focussing on side issues rather than the reasons why nearly 100,000 gathered at Stadium Merdeka?
Malaysia doesn’t even see such numbers for a football game. Isn’t it counter-productive to bury one’s head in the sand like an ostrich and focus on other reports rather than the one big event thus far in 2013?
Such reportage hurts the government more than it helps. The dropping numbers of newspaper readers will mean such propaganda is hitting a smaller market, while internet news portals that carry news instantly with pictures of the crowd will get more popular.
How does one influence people if you ignore the news of the day? Is it by spamming email inboxes with emails warning against going for the rally or spewing some contrived government spokesman message about the rally?
Would an email from suara.rakyat2013 purporting to carry news from an unnamed government spokesman even work?
News must come from credible sources but Malaysia’s mainstream media, both newspapers and television stations, failed to do so today with their scant and misleading reports about the rally in the capital city yesterday.
These organisations are sidelining themselves from the marketplace of information and ideas, becoming the fringe news sources that internet news portals started out years ago.
What a pity. To roll over and become the purveyor of news that doesn’t matter rather than remaining the top news sources of the day. In internet parlance, that’s called an epic fail.