Unveiling realities in Malaysia’s evolving media landscape

Unveiling realities in Malaysia’s evolving media landscape

KUALA LUMPUR: In a collaborative effort, the Content Forum and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently hosted ‘Beyond Headlines – A New Era of News,’ a day-long seminar uniting industry experts and thought leaders to tackle vital issues in Malaysia’s media landscape.

The seminar delved into key focus areas, including combating disinformation, ethical reporting, managing information overload, and promoting public critical thinking.

Panel sessions highlighted the crucial role of news organisations in transparency, ethical reporting, and self-regulation, tackling challenges such as reporting on sensitive topics, influence of technology and the evolving nature of digital age journalism.

In his opening statement, Datuk Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin, Chief Regulatory Officer of MCMC, stressed the critical need for collaboration amid the convergence of traditional and new media.
He emphasised on the essential role of maintaining moderation and stability in news dissemination.

Addressing the varied perspectives on what constitutes ‘harmful,’ he stated, “There is a shared responsibility of regulators and journalists in fact-checking. The Content Code, a comprehensive
guide by the Content Forum, offers valuable insights for media practitioners to navigate self regulation in this dynamic industry.”

Adapting Amidst Change In the realm of information overload, a crucial theme emerged—the pivotal role of news organisations as the final stronghold of fact-checking.

Discussions focused on the mounting concerns regarding the proliferation of disinformation, shedding light on the potential role of AI in discerning false news, including pinpointing individuals involved in malicious online activities, commonly referred to as ‘cybertroopers.’

These discussions emphasised the need for vigilance when using AI-driven fact-checking systems, stressing the importance of “fact-checking the factcheckers.”

Harnessing AI presents a substantial advantage in journalism by enabling the swift analysis of vast datasets, offering a powerful tool for tackling misinformation in the digital age.

Amidst evolving consumer preferences, media platforms are also grappling with the necessity to adapt, notably due to the younger generation’s preference for concise, bite-sized information.
This adaptation extends to the necessity of tailoring content for diverse news formats, especially on emerging media platforms like social media, to effectively engage with this new generation of content consumers.

Experts discussed the complex interplay of media and politics, addressing concerns about biases and the media’s influence on public opinion. This challenge underscores the balance needed between meeting consumer demands for information and maintaining unbiased reporting principles.

Balancing Sensitivity, Ethics and Inclusivity in Journalism In exploring the diverse facets of media responsibility, panellists delved into the impact of Google search data on trends, stressing the need for discrimination-free news reporting as it can shape public opinion.

The discussion broadened to address key issues such as reducing stigma around suicide, challenging harmful stereotypes, online hate speech, safeguarding children’s privacy and advocating for humanised storytelling—particularly in relation to marginalised communities and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

Journalists bear the responsibility to combat stigmas in reporting, especially on sensitive topics and avoid sensational headlines that may exacerbate societal issues or fuel stereotypes further.

News Editing in the Digital Age The seminar further highlighted technology’s valuable role, acknowledging its contributions to business sustainability, including the utilisation of social media as a news outlet.

However, concerns loomed over the competitive landscape, especially when dealing with intricate algorithms and strategic timing of news publishing, where timing can yield significant consequences.

In addition, navigating the realm of social media posed significant challenges due to its ease of access for spreading fake news and misinformation.
Within the digital era, newsrooms contend with emerging challenges as they confront the influence of AI.

This revealed a spectrum of perspectives; some voiced concerns regarding potential job cuts and uniformity, while others regarded AI as a tool to foster creative thinking and linguistic diversity.

In essence, the session highlighted the intricate balance between embracing technological advancements and preserving the core values of journalism. In closing the day-long seminar, Kenny Ong, Chairman of the Content Forum said, “We don’t claim to have all the answers, as the Content Forum’s role isn’t to provide solutions but to offer the tools for us to discover them.

The solutions we seek must be crafted by Malaysians, for Malaysians, considering our unique values. We remain dedicated to championing self-regulation, as we believe it is the optimal solution, with our evolving Content Code that welcomes valuable media input for continual improvement. Join the debate, and together, we’ll make the necessary changes.”

* Statement by Content Forum, 25 October 2023
* The Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia is an independent self-regulatory industry body registered under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and designated by the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to oversee and promote self-regulation of content over the electronic networked medium.

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