Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New media and political campaign

Malaysian blogger, Bernice Low (2008) highlights the influence of new media on the change of political landscape in the country. It is proven that the mainstream media may be becoming ineffective in its role to determine voter's preference anymore with the emergence of new media. During the months that lead to 2008's General Election, mainstream media has been exhausting viewers with one-sided coverage siding the government. Before the emergence of new media, mainstream media filled with government propaganda is the only news portal that the citizen can rely on. However, with the Web 2.0 movement, people are getting more access to faster, in-depth news from news website portals such as Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today.

With more coverage on the opposition side and active lobbying through the Internet with the help of younger, technology competent members of the opposition party, this lead to the formation of public sphere on the Internet. Viewer gets to see 2 sides of political ideology and movement with the mixture of mainstream media and new media.

Sometimes, conflicting coverage between the new media and mainstream enables people to pick up the disparity on the mainstream media side. For example, the mainstream media made a full front page coverage on the success of the government campaign in the Penang state and state that there were 50,000 audiences at there. However, they never did a coverage on the opposition party, Democratic Action Party's campaign at the same place which actually garners an even bigger audience. According to Malaysiakini (2008), there were more than 60,ooo people at the venue and they even show videos and photos to backed up their fact whereas mainstream newspaper, The Star only show one photo with limited field of vision for the government's campaign.

It can be said that the limited coverage by mainstream media is also the downfall to for the government as they do not know the progress of the opposition party. Therefore, they were disillusioned into thinking that it would be another landslide win for them. Tarrant (2008) mention that people are uploading videos to popular file sharing site, YouTube of political figures in action including one whereby a politician of a ruling party declare that Malaysia is an Ismlamic nation and threaten critics to leave the country. With the citizens as the watchdog for the political scene now and the emergence of new media, politician that are not performing up to par should be worried for the next General Election.



Low, B. 2008, Malaysia's digital revolution--the death knell for The Star, and the rise of e-news portal?, CNET Asia, viewed 17 November 2009,

Malaysiakini, 2008, Malaysiakini, Malaysia, viewed 17 November 2009,

Tarrant, B. 2008, 'Malaysia opposition win shows power of cyberspace', Reuters, 9 March

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