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Mar 30, 2008

Utusan tops as the most pro-BN paper

(Aliran) The election media monitor initiative, organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) and Charter 2000-Aliran confirmed that major print media continue to the line of the incumbent government, formed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, in their election coverage by allocating the majority of stories and spaces for their candidates.

The bias toward BN effected a significant amount of news and news spaces being dedicated to BN candidates- their background and what they said, as well as the portrayal of imminent electoral victory for BN. In contrast, issues that are of interest to the voters- analysis of the parties manifesto, the track record of the party etc, issues with the Indian community were given very little space. After the candidates, other main issues covered were chiefly the questions of the new Penang chief minister and attacks on the oppositions.

Among the six newspapers covered- The Star, NST, theSun, Utusan Malaysia, Malaysia Nanban and Makkal Osai - the order of the percentages of space dedicated to pro-BN stories is as follows - Utusan Malaysia at 82%, Malaysia Nanban at 70%, Makkal Osai at 66%, The Star at 63%, NST at 60%, and theSun at 43%. Interestingly, Makkal Osai, which is yet to get a new publication permit for 2008, also has the highest percentage of space for pro-Opposition stories at 23%.

CIJ Executive Director, Gayathry Venkiteswaran said the electoral setback of the BN despite the pro BN media is a strong indicator of the public rejecting the media's propagandist approach and the need to change the editorial policy. She recommeded that the Malaysian media change along three lines- return to the ethical and profesional standards of fairness, objectivity, balance and accuracy, more competition in the form of more media being allowed, and doing away with the laws that restrict the media.

The election media monitoring initiative covered the period from a week before the nomination day until the day of the election. However, for the purpose of the report the results analysed were from the period between 25 Feb- 8 March. Analysis by volunteers are available on http://www.aliran.com/elections..

Attached with the statement is the executive summary of the findings. The full report is available in CDs and to be distributed upon request.

Issued by
Centre for Independent Journalism


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