The State of Traditional Media and Newspapers in Malaysia

Smart people don’t seem to read the local newspapers, nor any businessmen worth their salt (The Edge anyone?). As they are all pretty much biased, washed out tabloid trash.

Smart people read news online (BBC, CNN, Malaysiakini, Jeff Ooi) or read foreign papers, even those papers such as The Times of India are much better.

It seems people prefer to pay more for some decent news rather than the local papers which are only good for wrapping tomorrows nasi lemak in.

Even in the US the traditional media has shifted its paradigm toward the online medium, advertisers are pulling out of the printed papers and spending more heavily on the websites (Below the Line).

Look at the Washington Post for example, it’s an amazing site with a blog, trackbacks and integrated Technorati features.

According to a new forecast by Forrester Research, as much as 8 percent of all advertising spending will shift online by the year 2010. Much of this shift will come at the expense of tradional media channels such as magazines, direct mail and newspapers.

The problem with local media in my opinion is:

1) It’s sloppy, there are spelling mistakes, factual mistakes, research mistakes and so on, it’s basic journalism 101, please check your facts before publishing

2) It’s heavily censored, only what the government wants to come out comes out (seems to be the current government too, or whichever party that paper has an alliance to), sometimes feels a little like China

3) The content is poor, often syndicated and unoriginal, where is the real journalism, the hard talk, the cutting edge stories?

4) The specialist sections are just as bad, In-tech? Anyone even know which days it comes out? Anyone use it for anything other than eating their dinner on?

The television is just as bad, magazines are pretty poor too but seem to be getting better at least.

People just don’t care about newspapers here, stats show more than half of people that read newspapers don’t actually buy them, they just read them in the office because they are there. It’s a vicious circle, people don’t care, people don’t read, papers stay crappy, biased and with low circulations.

For example I got a URL in a national newspapers and saw a massive surge in hits of 0, yeah 0, no extra hits, no one read the paper and went online. Well if they did, it was less than 100 people, so I didn’t notice the difference.

If you did that in UK you’d get at least 100,000 hits over a week as BryanBoy saw when he was published in the UK Telegraph.

Sadly I don’t know what we can do to fix it, but well some of us are working on something to bring the new media and traditional media closer together, at least it’s a step in the right direction. It just seems to be taking forever to get started.

Bah I don’t even want to start on the quality of the television shows, argh! Comedy? You call that comedy? I call it 4 decades outdated slapstick that only appeals to people with IQs of 60 or below.




You can subscribe via e-mail to get my posts in your Inbox, or stalk me on numerous other platforms.

, , , , , , , ,

30 Responses to The State of Traditional Media and Newspapers in Malaysia

  1. suanie April 27, 2006 at 1:01 pm #

    spell check bro, spell check… 😛

  2. JerryWho April 27, 2006 at 1:13 pm #

    In defense for In.Tech, back in the days when Davin Arul was still editor, In.Tech was a very different beast. Yours truly used to write there, and with writers such a Fran Foo (who is a true news junky), Zeffri, Chun, and Roslan, we had a pretty tight team, churning out local stories and features.

    But I think all these has to do with having a good leader, Davin was promoted, and… some of us left…


    4) The specialist sections are just as bad, In-tech? Anyone even know which days it comes out? Anyone use it for anything other than eating their dinner on?

  3. FireAngel April 27, 2006 at 2:14 pm #

    Yeay! Say it spit it out spank the motherfuckers yeah!

  4. meekie April 27, 2006 at 2:22 pm #

    I partly agree with your opinion here. I don’t buy newspaper, I only read them in the office. I don’t read the content, no news is good news. Most of the time I only flipped through to see what’s the bargain in town or to see how each telco fighting against each other on the ads.

    Internet penetration rate is still low in Malaysia, thus major newspapers are still playing a mainstream role throughout the whole nation.

    Who would like to go to up to the web and read newsonline, or view news streaming while most of them only connect on a 56kbps internet connection.

  5. Intensecure April 27, 2006 at 3:07 pm #

    Mmm, rant, rant, rant,…
    But all so true. And even as an ex-pat Brit, coming from the land of piss-poor tabloid journalism for the masses, the standard here is..did I say “standard”…is diabolical.
    Online is the future, but the market saturation for broadband (if you call StimX “broadband” Hah.) in Malaysia is how many percent? 1 or 2?
    But I still see educated people, such as my in-laws, that read and absorb the stuff that is printed in the shitty daily papers here. It is a disease, and it is endemic. Unfortunately it is underpinned by truly awful TV.

  6. spiller April 27, 2006 at 3:47 pm #

    yeah, tv sucks. i rather watch mtv.

  7. zhi sheng April 27, 2006 at 4:24 pm #

    im 17 this year and yeah…heck, newspapers here are terrible. pretty much everything you said is true….every time i read the papers, there would be one “WTF” moment by what actually makes the papers. no real news IMO. more fun to read Time or something else online.

  8. walski69 April 27, 2006 at 4:37 pm #
    I still do buy The Star on rare occassions. But you’re right – the paradigm is shifting, and it’s starting to show in the circulation numbers.But what to do? There are many that see criticism (constructive or otherwise) to be personal attacks, and invoke all sorts of measures to silence the critics – all in the antiquated notion that being beyond reproach somehow makes one more superior, not realizing that in many cases they’re merely making themselves laughing stocks for the rest of the world to smirk at.But the traditional media will certainly continue the way they operate until one day… K E R R U N C H!!!!The sound of their paradigm, shifting without a clutch. And that day’s fast approaching…
  9. Boss Stewie April 27, 2006 at 4:59 pm #

    Yeah I had a website that was featured on a full page of The Star weekend and also on the Sun newspapers. The visits I got from both of these combined were less what I got from a mention on Jeff Ooi’s blog.

    So yeah.. you’re right

  10. vincent April 27, 2006 at 9:11 pm #

    Actually dude, while I agreee that mainstream sucks, a lot of the online shit is just as bad.

    Compare Star and NST with Malaysiakini and JeffOoi?

    Different lie. Same bullshit.

  11. iamyuanwu April 28, 2006 at 2:39 am #

    Ya dei, Newspapers in Malaysia is terrijiber. Especially the Star. I’m beginning to think that they are paid to attend YB’s and MP’s kenduri and report about it.

    And with Siti’s or Mawi’s face adorning the front page, how-lah to take the papers seriously?! It’s more like a daily tabloid magazine than a newspaper.

    P.S. JerryWho, In.Tech (of ’97 to about 2000) rules! I used to read them religiously. Then it began to suck. How unfortunate.

  12. Steffy1811 April 28, 2006 at 4:21 am #

    Well I have to admit that I do agree with Shaolin Tiger to a certain extent. Our local newspapers are boring and full of crap. Besides the censorship issue, what else do we expect to see in the news if not for some freak accident in KL or some gang robbery down in Johor or just someone appealing for donation from Penang? Its always same old news to me.

  13. KY April 28, 2006 at 9:54 am #

    Local newspapers are good for reading in the toilet as I don’t have wifi nor do I want to bring my laptop to the loo. Besides, my battery doesn’t last anymore…

  14. cynical-idealist April 28, 2006 at 12:45 pm #

    When I commented to my cousin about the crap quality of one of the local dailies, she immediately leapt to its defence, because her friends worked there. To me, that just shows the overall mentality of the newspapers’ readership – they don’t really care about quality at all.

    Plus, it doesn’t help that journalists don’t get paid much. When I attended a junior journalists program some years back, the editor of said local daily even told us NOT to enter this business, because the pay is plain crap. Also, it doesn’t help that the courses for journalism are considered “mickey mouse” courses, and journalists don’t really hold that much “prestige” as people working as doctors and lawyers and engineers yadayada. That just goes to show just how seriously this profession is being taken by some people.

    Unless the public mentality towards journalism shifts, and unless the general standard in the workplace rises and start being enforced much more strictly internally, the quality of our papers will never go up.

    Not to say that the papers out there are all bad. It’s just that the mistakes get too frequent.

  15. ylchong April 28, 2006 at 1:29 pm #

    When media are all directly or indirectly controlled by BN component parties, what do you expect the senior journalists do?

    They play politics! They write and bow in accordance with the best wishes of the political masters, and at the workplace, it’s THE SAME as in government departments — or worse, as the end-product is on public display in all its pub’ic display in all its naked (and nu’es)glory!

    I’ve been a member there — where PR has got two connotations — both -ve — public relations (I almost was tempted to put an apostrophe in place of the “”l” again…) and PROstitution.

    But at last the oldest profession practitioners don’t scream they are the 4th Estate! Silently some real personal estate.

    I agree with one commenter: Is the so called emerging 5th Estate any better? Also aligned with political and NGO intetrests — motivation is also the same — almighty $ sign unless you’re some “socialists” (dying breed) which even the Government won’t wish to “register” as a group, and some smartass “anarchists” fronting as Online Democrats.


    I have a special interest in Media topics (freelan’ journalist-lah!) — can I “reprise” your esteemd POst for my Blog use Tomorrow, ah? One barrel of tehtarik, tambah manis pun boleh! di Bloehlan’:)

  16. Mr Singh April 28, 2006 at 4:04 pm #

    Who reads newspaper anymore? We read blogs now to stay up to date!

  17. howsy April 28, 2006 at 5:14 pm #

    Eh, I tot you are part of a ‘national newspaper blog project’ thingy, no? Aren’t you suppossed to speak good words for them? Just like some did for the Vendetta brouhaha thingy not too long ago?

  18. ShaolinTiger April 28, 2006 at 6:11 pm #

    JerryWho: I’m sure it was better back in the day, sadly it seems most things were. I know someone who writes for In.Tech now..even he says it’s nothing to shout about.

    meekie: Internet penetration is low, but the readership of the online papers here is pretty high, just the quality of the ‘Journalism’ is low. The thing is the real paper readers and the online readers seem to be completely different people. You don’t need broadband to read online, Malaysian sites have very little active content (sound/video).

    Intensecure: Yeah rant, rant, but sadly true. Who can complain about page 3 though bro 😉 And I used to find the Daily Mail pretty ok as newspapers go for a tabloid format, which broadsheet quality news.

    zhi sheng: It’s really sad, I’m totally off the newspapers here.

    walski69: Well hopefully we can promote the fusion between traditional media and the new media (so called 5th estate publishers). Criticism is welcome I think as long as it really isn’t personal attacks, I don’t know it’s hard to make people accept any kind of criticism, it’s human nature after all.

    Boss Stewie: Yah, it’s really sad, even when Suanie was in the main section she only got 1-2000 extra visitors.

    vincent: I’d say same lie, different angle. But those were examples I used because well I really struggled to find any good online sources of news around here, I use mostly aggregated services…Newsvine, Google News and RSS feeds for keywords like Malaysia, and the surrounding region.

    iamyuanwu: Yeah what is with this whole freaking Mawi thing.

    Steffy1811: Yah very literal event based reporting, very little investigative or original journalism.

    cynical-idealist: Yeah typical crony mentality, support blindly when it gives you some kind of advantage, or involves your friends. Journalists are really lowly paid here and as you say not respected like other professions. The whole mentality towards it has to change.

    ylchong: Everyone has an agenda, that’s just a fact, we can’t even escape that, we just have to make it as transparent as possible. The problem with the 5th estate is that it can get too personal and it has no real accountability. The opposite for traditional media which tend to be over cautious.

    howsy: Yah I am, but that doesn’t change my opinion, nor will stop me criticising. I’m not a typical Malaysian remember, I won’t just keep quiet because it might benefit me. The project is an effort to fix the situation anyway, that’s why I’m involved.

  19. tigerjoe April 28, 2006 at 7:06 pm #

    Not all smart people read Jeff Ooi. Dumb people read him too. 😛

  20. stephen April 28, 2006 at 7:20 pm #

    Free speech man

    If anything that needs to be made done in Malaysian Media is free speech.

    The only thing free in Malaysian Medias are ads and other rubbish, mainly stuff like sms money makers,loan sharks preying on the poor, lousy local artist etc. People take advantage on this by bringing the above rubbish to media’s just because the readers or viewers have no time to entertain them in the first place.

    Any quality news on media’s in Malaysia can only be achieved should all viewers start using their thinking cap than celebrating some crabby celebrity + promotions+ news that dont matter to anyone than their sponsors at all (period).

  21. KY April 28, 2006 at 7:32 pm #

    why never reply to me? do you not shit & read? =/

  22. foodcrazee April 29, 2006 at 12:06 pm #

    welcome to Malaysia…what else can we say

  23. iesnek April 29, 2006 at 3:01 pm #

    I know that this might be slightly off topic, but out of curiousity, what’s your stand on ‘secular retarded organisations’ which manipulate and twists facts and republishes them to suit themself?

    I mean there are cases everywhere, BNP in UK, that NWF in USA, and err we have those sort around these parts of the world as well. Except nobody really cares who the hell they are.

    Just a harmless question. 🙂

  24. Matthew April 30, 2006 at 1:18 am #

    hi there, mr. shaolin? haha. just dropping by and i can say that you’re a true blogger, rock on! 🙂

  25. tsinikal May 1, 2006 at 11:51 am #

    i dont want to pick up a newspaper and learn about hannah tan’s car. i dont want to read about chelsia ng’s car. this tabloid crap actually makes it to the front page.

  26. ICC May 1, 2006 at 8:36 pm #

    I share your feelings dude. Newspapers a solid bore. Hate internet new too. If only there was a way to automatically inject news into the brain.

  27. ShaolinTiger May 2, 2006 at 4:16 pm #

    tigerjoe: Yah totally agree, smart ones read Daft Ooi? Hehe.

    stephen: Wouldn’ that be nice. All this ringtones and crap take up half the paper, and just look at this whole crazy Mawi thing, it’s ridiculous!

    KY: Nah I don’t, I’m a speedshitter, in, drop the bomb out then read..

    iesnek: I think that’s a topic that requires a dedicated post.

    Matthew: Thanks much, come back soon.

  28. Chris Chong May 3, 2006 at 1:18 am #

    OMG ST… You actually use In.Tech to eat your dinner on?

    Well, I use it for breakfast… -_-

    While I believe that there’s not much that can be done with the main sections, the specialist sections in most newspapers have an entirely different set of problems.

    First of all, the standard of competition is really low. There are far too many tech/motoring publications churning out the same stuff over and over again and – to be honest – the same thing is happening all over the world.

    In the case of In.Tech, it’s a small team (some key people left the team last year) that’s chronically understaffed with far too many other distractions/commitments keeping the team from doing what they do best (product/game reviews, news and how-to guides).

    Simply sourcing foreign stories to fill up the pages is already a very time-consuming process.

    Ideally, it would be much better if In.Tech came out only once a week (as it did during the late 90s). With a small editorial team and limited resources, it’s really hard to publish two issues a week – the content is spread even thinner than it should be and cannot be as in-depth simply because there isn’t enough time in an already-crowded schedule.

    The other problem, of course, is the Internet itself. In the early- to mid-nineties, the only source of tech news was from magazines and newspapers. Now, you get websites that update hourly with far more space for pictures, text and even videos – that makes publications like In.Tech far less important to readers than they used to be.

    I for one used to follow Davin Arul’s (under the name of ‘Tomcat’) weekly Battlezone 2000 column in Section 2. IMHO, he was one of the best console game reviewers during the 16-bit era (thank God he still does some PC game reviews for In.Tech)

    I acknowledge that In.Tech could be far better than it currently is but until it has serious competition that threatens its position as the top tech publication in Malaysia (in terms of advertising revenue), the higher-ups have no reason to bolster the team with more members, or to entice more capable people to join in.

    And then, there’s also the issue about how The Star operates. There isn’t any clear reward structure – you can work your ass off, yet the guy who spends more time drinking teh tarik has an equal chance for promotion if he plays his cards right. Similarly, people who hardly do any work at all can’t get fired or demoted. Simply put, it’s hard to keep motivated.

    This makes hiring new members a problem too. I mean, I don’t think many articulate, intelligent and hardworking tech geeks would want to leave their jobs for one which has no clear reward structure.

    Any other criticism is very much welcomed, of course… -_- (constructive or otherwise)

  29. JerryWho May 13, 2006 at 12:11 pm #

    iamyuanwu: Thanks! Glad to know there are people who likes what we used to do. Nevertheless, most of us “oldtimers” are still writing. Fran is with CNET, I started, and the spirit of the old In-Tech lives on.

Keep up with me on Social Media by following me below - Thanks so much!