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Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 16 January 2011

The rise of citizen journalism and public anger

Just a few weeks ago, the president of NUJ offered some very damning thoughts on the reasons for the overall decline in newspaper circulation. Example: the principal cause for the decline in Utusan Malaysia's circulation is its racist tilt. In other words, Utusan Malaysia is racist.
Coming from a Malay against a Malay vernacular paper is almost blasphemous! I am not going into that area. What I want to know is whether Saudara Hatta's views are capable of general application. Will I be able to say then; the reduced circulation of NST for example, is caused also by its overt racist inclinations?
NST people will be the first to go up in arms. It will say and state, in its usual dour and bossy tone- it practices no racism and discrimination.
Even though I may not like its way of stating things, I will have to agree with NST. I would have thought, NST's reduced circulation is not caused by any overt racist inclinations. For that, we have to look elsewhere.
Therefore, Hatta's views are not capable of general application.
The decline in Utusan's circulation cannot be due to the fact that it's written in Baahsa Melayu. If that is so, how do you explain the circulation of the other tabloid papers, those mosquito papers written in Malay which are big on sensational stories about artistes' lives and ghost stories and with the appealing mix of sex, violence and romance are doing well?
Hence language is not the reason for reduced circulation.
In any case, any newspaper, in whatever language it's written, if they have the UK Sun's page-3 element, will certainly increase circulation, especially among male readers. Way back when I was studying in UK, the Sun was a popular daily tabloid. People used to joke that the hottest part of the Sun is page 3. Page 3 of course displayed pictures of nubile fairer sex in tantalizing poses au naturel. Likewise, on Sundays, the most popular segment of MIngguan Malaysia is Pancaindera.
If the decline in NST's circulation isn't caused by racism, then what's the cause?
This does not apply only to NST. It applies to all prints.
I would say, there are two principal causes. One, the rise of the internet. Two, the rise and expanding relevance of citizen journalism.
The main cause for the decline is the internet. More people read online newspapers than printed material. Traditional papers employ tens and hundreds of journalists. Online newspapers a fraction of those.
How do you explain the 'defeat' of the many against the few? We have to look first at the composition, structure and quality of the many. The decline in NST's circulation and therefore relevance may actually be caused by these things in the many.
The many in the NST are from the school of journalism from one educational institution. And you know they operate like a secret society, guarding entry into the brotherhood, jealous of anyone not schooled in the same values. Above all, they have this overinflated notion of self-importance that THEY and THEY ALONE have the right to have an opinion on anything. This is the main cause of NST's degeneration.
I can guarantee, if they continue with this misplaced sense of self-importance, the paper will die together with the demise of their egos.
Well, the readers have given their verdict the opinions of the enthroned journalists are not worth the paper on which they are printed.
The answer also lies in the quality of journalism offered. I will simply say, the decline in NST's circulation is caused by the questionable quality of its journalism. The quality of its journalists and the quality of issues reasoned out.
As to the power of citizen journalism, the internet and the peoples' verdict, I hope ALL mainstream papers need only look at what happened in Tunisia recently.
It is interesting though that it took a combination of angry Tunisians, Wikileaks, U.S. diplomacy, a dissident soldier and social media to ignite the rebellion. Most likely if it had been Hillary Clinton alone telling the Tunisian people how corrupt Ben Ali was, it would have backfired.
I think the State Department should learn a lot from Tunisia and rethink Wikileaks, cellular networks, social networks, and the power of the raw truth when dictators lose control of the popular message.
Perhaps the papers like NST are missing on these things. Having the 'many' fortified by walls of self-interests and intoxicated by its own inflated notion of self-importance and indispensable relevance, does not help matters. It has probably prevented NST into becoming the crusader of journalism's holy grail- truth and objectivity.
What happened in Tunisia demonstrated the general distrust of the public of mainstream explanations. It took some activists diplomats and Wikileaks to reveal what many Tunisians suspected and that is the extent of the government's corruption and abuse to ignite the overthrow.
The state apparatuses supported by papers with an inflated notion of self-importance should also reflect on what happened in Tunisia.
The paradox here is obvious. The U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives are lost in a bloody military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq with very little success in establishing grassroots change. And instead, U.S. diplomats telling a detailed story about corruption in Tunisia and a group of determined journalists at Wikileaks and Bradley Manning accomplished what a decade of military intervention in the Middle East could not: a popular uprising against corruption and dictatorship.


Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 08:11  

The NST has never written any critical piece on any government policy - be 1Malaysia, and all those ABC and XYZ strategies of Najib the great PM who is projected as a demigod.
Every pronouncement of the PM and his Ministers are hailed as Gospel truth and worthy of emulation.
Any statement by the Opposition is spiked unless to put them in bad light.
NST thinks, readers have no brains to think.
Compare NST journalists with those from Aljazeera? Real low class.

Pak Zawi 16 January 2011 at 08:18  

Dato' Sak,
The mainstream medias won't be losing readerships if they are more liberal and less biased in their reporting. They have been on the decline ever since they were owned by political parties.
The other obvious reason is the internet which draw away their readership who seeks views from the other side of the coin.
As to Utusan, its a party's organ to disseminate the party's propaganda so only the party's declining members will only read it.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 09:06  

can't agree more with your take on the attitude of m/s journalists - false sense of self-importance, condescending, etc.
btw, who is this hatta guy? another malay apologist? will he dare to make an intelligent comparison with the circulation of chinese papers INSPITE of their racist reporting? bah, humbug!
as for utusan, if they continue featuring ummi hafilda on their front page, who in their right mind will BUY and READ it?

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 09:41  

The moment a newspaper is owned and controlled by a political party, it becomes a propaganda unit of the party concerned. Some try to be more subtle but others like Utusan goes to the extreme to spew religious and racial hatred with an iota of conscience or care. Thanks to Wikileaks, governments especially failed state like Malaysia is beginning to wet their pants. I can't wait for the next disclosure on Malaysia. I just hope that they can do what the opposition cannot at the moment like in Tunisia. Long live Wikileaks!

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 09:50  

Like Harakah which is a Pas organ, both NST, Berita Harian and Utusan are Umno's mouthpieces. But Utusan is the worst of the lot. It is not racist but its editors and columnist are. That mysterious character which uses the pseudonym Awang ( selamat?) is clearly a racist anda rumor mongerer whose sole objective in writing, it seems is to sow hatred amongst malaysians. These are people which the Prophet called the fanatical 'assabiyah' group. For all we know this so-called Awang may be an Indian muslim just like Mahathir.

Sometimes I think they are bloody stupid. Amongst us malays, the support base of Umno and PR is 50:50. Utusan's writing is obviously not going to win over the 50% malay PR supporters to Umno. Instead, they tend to widen the gap of reconcialiation between the two groups.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 10:33  

Dato', thought of buying Mingguan Malaysia this morning but when approaching the paper vendor-the top front page is the picture of Sarawak white hair king with the new found love and bottom part is the picture of the Umi the sister of Azmin Ali.
Then my son asked me "what is so important about these picture that have to appear on the front page and disgustingly said stupid!
My only words to him was that "well young man, this is how you got to live, so be smart when you chose your leader come next general election!"
As you wrote before, be very careful come next GE. Anyway good luck sir and happy week end!

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 10:56  

Dato Sak,
Nice piece. I see a Tunisia coming here. I feel also that NST and Utusan have reached a point of no return from lies, more lies, denials and spins.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 10:58  

Well said, Dato,

Yes, we must not rely on these MSM, we must whack all these egoistic nincompoops.

Yes, wikileaks are right, we have idiots running the country down.

As for me, being an aviation veteran, I have been whacking these so called Airlines Corporate Captains since 2003.

Not only they are playing with our money, they are playing with our lives.

More scandals here:

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 11:03  

I stopped buying newspapers eons ago. Now I read everything off the internet. True, since our dailies are controlled by political interest, you cannot expect much material out of investigative journalism. That bores the readers. In addition, on the internet you can exchange views. Our dailies only know to "feed" you with stuff they intentionally want to.

Putar_belit,  16 January 2011 at 12:26  

I fully support your argument that the rise of online news portal and citizen journalism have contributed to the decline of Utusan and NST's circulation. However, Utusan have an additonal fuel to fire up the decline in the form of racial and fictitious reports. I am not surprised with your inclination to support Utusan because you are an UMNO man.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 15:55  

why i don't see any mention of the Star, as this is the NST closest rival (not in terms of circulation though), i don't think the star is a much better read than the NST but its circulation is much higher than NST, maybe Datuk Sak can shed some light to this mistery...

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 15:55  

why i don't see any mention of the Star, as this is the NST closest rival (not in terms of circulation though), i don't think the star is a much better read than the NST but its circulation is much higher than NST, maybe Datuk Sak can shed some light to this mistery...

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 15:59  

Dear Dato'

If a national daily headlines something like 'Aerobics In A Mosque Carpark'.... would you bother pick it up? Will the stories inside feels more like a news or shit stirring attemtp?

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 16:09  

Dato Sakm,
Kejatuhan kebanyakan Maharaja zaman dahulu semuanya berpunca daripada punahsihat dan lapuran (media? adaka masa tu). Sekarang pun kalau la ada siapa-siapa pi tanya PEAM adakah Rakyat dalam keadaan hidup makmur?. Tentu la PEAM kata yang dia tahu ikut lapuran 'Rakyat sedang hidup mewah atas dasar yang diperkenalkan oleh beliau. Pagi-pagi seawal 5.00am saya lihat Rakyat dah keluar pergi kerja sampai rumah lebih kurang 7.00pm. Bila tanya pasal apa dua-dua kena p kerja (suami-isteri) jawapan nya 'nak mampus kalau seorang saja kerja. Zaman la nie semua naik beb' PEAM & Menteri tau tak hal nie?. Ini lah kerja Media cetak & IT yang sokong kerajaan?..Rakyat..Hu3..
-sender Rakyat Penang lo.

Apanama,  16 January 2011 at 16:29  

Dato Sak, why should i spend my RM 1.20 to hear all good news about BN? Can all these propaganda help me to educate myself and make me a better person? Or should i spend the money to read all those lies and hatred materials on daily basis ?

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 17:23  

Dear Daato

I am a Msian and residing in Vietnam for the past 8 years. I read your comments daily and thank you for really coming up with the truth and articles that make sense.

The Police, Judiciary are all tainted as the goverments running dogs and will do anything to glorify all the actions taken by the goverment. The nespapers are the "third thrust" to ensure all the people of the country are fed garbage and also influenced. Thankfully, we have the internet and people like you who expose the truth and the right fom the wrong. Keep up your good work , Dato-may allah keep you going.

Ho Chi Minh City
Soclalist Republic of Vietnam

Donplaypuks® 16 January 2011 at 17:48  

There are many reasons why print-media inclined MSM are facing a decline.

One good reason is that the youth of today prefer straight-to-the-point short, sharp sentenced pieces in on-line news portals to old fashioned paper (not cool!). This is also linked to the poor standard of English in M'sia.

Secondly, many prefer independent and variety of opinions to those churned out by Govt owned, linked, licensed and controlled MSM. So, again readers turn to on-line portals, and more importantly, blogs.

Utusan is clearly racist and bigoted in its stance. It's gutter press at its worst.

NST, as is the STAR, seen as UMNO/BN's mouthpiece. Very often, the same article and page layout appear in both newspapers! More than that, independent and well researched opinion pieces are virtually absent. They are all seen as practicing what the holy Firaun said was "voluntary censorship"; Firaun failed to understand that any form of Govt sanctioned censorship is the enemy of the 'Free Press".

This is not to suggest that in the West, newspapers are all dead of centre (neutral) in the stance. In UK, we have the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Sun, News of the World etc. each of which panders to its fan base and is biased towards the political leanings of their owners and readers. But they are not Govt controlled and that is the crucial factor.

As a first step towards increasing readership of MSM here, we should by law ban any political party or politician from having a single share or investment or any connection with any newspaper or MSM.

we are all of 1 Race, the Human race

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 20:21  


Don't worry about UMNO not able to stay in power anymore. They'll definitely get it for sure this next generatal election. Have you heard about EC suggesting proxy for next election? Thank Allah we've brilliant people in EC understand how to keep UMNO in power. Thank you God!

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 20:39  

What about the Chinese vernacular newspaper which are the mother of the rascist news.Are they being excluded from this issue.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 20:53  

NST and Utusan is nothing more than the political mouthpiece of UMNO. It doesn't report news. It reports UMNO's press releases.

This is why their circulation is down. Why would any educated reader bother to pay money just to read press releases and opinion pieces from political parties?

Its the same with other political papers like Rocket, Harakah and Suara Keadilan. The general public is not interested in such 'news'.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 22:41  


Datuk, besides the Internet, the kampung people nowadays have Sinar Harian, a community based newspaper to keep them informed. This 'new' paper claim to be transparent and balanced in their reporting even though their reporting is quite amateurish.

Mengkasar dude

Quiet Despair,  16 January 2011 at 22:41  

I am those rare breed who believes in MSM and read it from cover to cover. NST and Star that is.
Cant help it due to my upbringing.
Malay papers like BH and Utusan, I read online. It's too expensive and I dont go for gossips and entertainment news.(I wonder how our rural folks can afford to buy it.) Even thrash like Kosmo and Harian Metro too are more expensive than the English language dailies.
I also buy NYTimes or AWSJ or Washpo from good bookstores once in a while though I read online daily.
I believe newspapers more because they present the true story albeit with a slant. They just delete what they feel is not in tune with the Government.
Unlike online papers like M2day or Insider or Free Malaysia which gives more spin and pro-opposition.
NST has gone down in standard. But it is more bipartisan and not too racist like the Star.
NST will portray the achievements of all races in the SPM for example.
The Star mostly feature the Chinese more. Under Soi Lek they are becoming racist.
When they portray Malays, it is mostly in a bad light for example the very old lady who pined for the very young drug addict hubby. Or the teacher who had sex every day.
I like the Star for it's layout, ads, informative articles and the style of reporting. NST tends to be dry with ugly page make-up.
As for Utusan, it is targeted for Malay audience and UMNO members.
Some view it as racist. But I think not as racist as the Chinese newspapers.
Tit for tat, I suppose.
Lets talk about RTM and TV3. Both are propaganda machines but TV3 lebih sudu dari kuah.No finesse at all in presenting news.
And the supposed newscasters are just pleasant looking news readers with empty heads.
They have atrocious pronounciations. Three nights ago a TV newsreader pronounced Lebuh McCallum in Penang as Lebuh M C Alom.
Watching TV3 news is good for laughs and a real embarassment most times.
It is understandable if they cannot pronounced correctly Arkansas, Tucson or Cheshire or Stratfordshire.
But it's really no excuse since wire news services do provide guides to pronounciation of names.
Rais must look into this and not just talk nonsense on culture, his fave topic.
P.s. You mentioned Hata, the Utusan journalist and NUJ chief. Well he's suspended by Utusan pending a domestic inquiry.
If I am not mistaken some years ago Yazid also of Utusan and NUJ chief too suffered the same fate and sue Utusan.
He was reinstated. Even awarded a Datukship.

Suci Dalam Debu 16 January 2011 at 22:59  


NST is a paper full of half-truths is not outright lies when it comes to the political scene in Malaysia.

I only buy NST for some sports and foreign news when I am truly bored waiting for somebody at the wet market.

The STAR is not much different. I used to read Utusan Melayu (Jawi) and the quality of reporting was a lot better compared to present-day Utusan Malaysia.

All the MSM suck big time!

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 23:22  

I have Internet and paid for it.

So why buy newspapers that insults your intelligence from page one to the last?

Stupid dont you think so?

Yes, Utusan lost readership through gutter journalism. People read for info not insults to their intellegence. Its torture.

While there are many causes for the fall in readerships among most newspapers around the world, but this Utusan , once the top is now falling fast.

I remembered the days when Malay Mail was at its height until one religious guy took over and took off the Malay Mail girl of the day!

Stupidity has a lot to do with the downfall though when many good discriminated ones went over to Star.

The rest is history.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 23:29  


Goodness, you still think mainstream media in Malaysia can be salvaged? Your own political party dictates what these papers write, which everyone knows are mostly fiction (Utusan Malaysia cooks up its own stories, i.e. make an issue out of nothing but the editor's imagination, don't you agree).

What are you going to do about this? Attend the annual conference, have tea and kuih-muih and then go back to writing this blog? Dato, it's about time you do something to help bring this beloved nation (yes, not country but the Malaysian nation) out of this mess.

You can start by leaving UMNO, writing more in Malay and influencing your fellow UMNO members to leave the party.

Anonymous,  16 January 2011 at 23:46  


You accuse Áwang'Selamat of being racist yet at the same time you speculate that he could be an Indian Muslim. Aren't you just as guilty? Talk of double standards! We Indian Muslim dont want anything to do with these Awang Selamats.

Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 04:53  

Anon 23:29,

I think your another example of why the racism of the Chinese makes it necessary for there to be an UMNO, and I myself am a non Malay.

As much I disagree with 99% of what Quiet Despair says, he has a point on the racism of non Malays towards Malays. Your a prime example of that.

Btw,Dato is a trained economist and I really do not know what kind of upbringing you have.

If you continue to look down on Malays, you should get out of Malaysia.

Wenger J. Khairy

Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 06:30  

Dear Dato,
Now see what the Malays think about this:

Wikileaks: About Mahathirs millions of $$$ stashed in an Israeli Bank in Singapore - 14-01-2011, 01:22 AM
In any other country, the press would have a field day with this one.
But not in Singapoore.
Ho much for democracy.

Can you imagine Mahathir stashing his loot in an ISRAELI Bank!!
(At least he knew what SAFE means)

The ST should ask the gahmen..if indeed this is true.
But then ST editors have got no ***** to ask the gahmen any questions.
Maybe the foreign press might ask the gahmen this question.
Should make VERY interesting reading.
Wonder what the Malaysians think of their former PM, now?


Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 08:54  


Why would I spend my hard earned money to pay for a lying, biased, dishonest, racist and government propaganda newspapers like Utusan, NST and Star and insult my own intelligence in the process. If I want papers to line my dog house and chicken shed, I would use clean and non toxic/venomous paper. Surely it is inhumane to subject my dogs and chickens to walk on the abobve newspapers that is filled with filth and gutter journalism crap.

Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 09:22  

There r many claims that the Chinese vernacular papers r racist.

Prove it with examples like what Utusan's did.

Otherwise, show yrself in the mirror that u r just one of many within the herd that just follow without thinking.

Come to that how many of y read Mandarin/Tamil, lest speaking them? Whereas, there r many 'pendatangs' read/write B M'sia better than u 'tulin' Malay M'sian. No?

Quiet Despair,  17 January 2011 at 10:30  

Hey guys. Many of you are talking about Ummi Hafilda.
Please check out her blog Srikandi 7. There are at least 175 comments on her latest posting.
There's even a posting of her with Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia and the Iran's Ayatollah.
Not bad yah, for a woman dubbed nyamuk by Mr Aljay.
OOh now she's covered.
I guess she is older than me.
If not I will make her my second wife. Huhu.

Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 12:08  

Quiet Despair,

Some may not be able to pronouce correctly but you are also not able to spell pronunciations correctly...

Donplaypuks® 17 January 2011 at 12:37  

"What about the Chinese vernacular newspaper which are the mother of the rascist news.Are they being excluded from this issue." Anon 20.39.

I keep reading comments here and there about these "racist" vernacular MSM which Dr.Mahathir frequently talks about not to mention many UMNO politicians. I don't read Chinese or Tamil newspapers so I don't know if it's true but certainly people like Anon keep repeating it as though they know it for themselves.

This is in the same vein of Utusan speak and misinformation/spin that DAP will sell M'sia to S'pore and China and turn us into a Republic after getting rid of the Sultans and making Mandarin our national language.

Bro, why can't people think for themselves and research thoroughly before holding an opinion? Very sad indeed!

we are all of 1 Race, the Human Race

Anonymous,  17 January 2011 at 14:32  


Tunisia now may be the Malaysia in 2020 if corruption and abuse of power are not reigned in.

Mohamed Bouazizi's death was not in vain but had given hope for those struggling Tunisians.

rance,  17 January 2011 at 15:43  

Dear Dato'Sak, i have a question for u.EC has come up with new idea - proxy voting.Could you tell me which other country practices that, if at all.Tks.

Quiet Despair,  17 January 2011 at 17:28  

Anon 12.08

You are right. There shouldn't be an o there.
Did not check my copy. No editor to do it.

didi,  17 January 2011 at 17:53  

Utusan is a thrash of a newspaper and they deserve the low circulations. Don't blame the rise of the internet what so ever because they only have themselves to blame for their failure. Why would anyone want to buy a paper with no quality in writing and no journalistic integrity? It's sad when so-called journalists can't even write in proper Malay with proper grammar. I haven't even gone yet on the ridiculous articles that they never fail to come up with. If my relatives who are staunch UMNO supporters have had enough of the absurdity of Utusan's articles, imagine people who do not sympathize with UMNO at all. I don't think Utusan is doing the malays a favor at all. If there's anything, they only brought embarrassment to the race they claimed to be championing. If Utusan really wants to be a propaganda paper then they should just learn from the master of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Why stuck at mediocrity right?

didi,  17 January 2011 at 17:59  

People wonder why papers like Harian Metro see increases in their circulations. It's easy. If I'm going to spend my money on fictions I might as well spend it on the interesting ones.

sam 17 January 2011 at 19:34 When sons and daughters have visions, dictators and govts. will fall. A NEW world will begin. That's what's happening in Tunisia.

Anonymous,  18 January 2011 at 21:48  

the sundalists has come to roost in the msm , politik apparatus and whereever politicians dare to tread..

we have penulis sundal , who is a pro
in promoting a politik apparitchik and belittle another politik personality of the opposition.

Now we have a new phenom - sundalist to 'shame ' opposition leaders - a
new innovation from malaysian politikos .

great stuff that will make good
reading or sinetron in years to come

khong khek khuat

Anonymous,  20 January 2011 at 15:15  

Internet is blamed as the culprit of declining Utusan circulations?

Come on, The Star sales are still currently all-time high.

The real culprit for Utusan poor sales are due to the extreme racism elements. Nothing else.

It's obvious that Chinese won't buy Utusan and don't forget educated Malay.


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