Utusan’s cry for press freedom

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The infamous statement made by Utusan

A daily that depends on state support while spewing bigotry and at times even defamatory remarks only alienates itself from right-thinking and concerned Malaysians, writes Mustafa K Anuar.

Utusan Malaysia and its owner Umno cried foul when the Ministry of Education issued a directive on 18 July to its divisions, agencies, schools, universities, colleges and institutions to cease immediately subscriptions to the daily.

They even raised their concern for, lo and behold, press freedom because they insisted that the subscription cancellation was not only unfair, but also went against Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s policy of openness towards differing views and ideas.

Umno leader and Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaacob stepped in to remind PH not to be “fearful” of Utusan because the latter is now in Putrajaya and as such the newspaper would be fair in its reporting of the new government.

Such noble concern for press freedom is a bit rich coming from a daily that’s been dogged with defamation suits, and accusations of unfair reporting, racism and religious bigotry.

Was it not Utusan that tried to stoke the fire of fear and discord, especially among the Malays and Muslims, over, for example, the appointment of Tommy Thomas, a Christian and non-Malay to boot, as the new Attorney General? Indeed, press freedom must come with responsibility – and to incite hatred and bigotry is not exactly the kind of freedom and responsibility we’re talking about.

Besides, it is not responsible journalism when you “grant” editorial space and fair reporting only after you have become the next government. The implied notion here is that, you get hammered and condemned for as long as you are in the opposition.

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As if not to be outdone, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi cautioned the ministry that teachers and students would be deprived of supposedly important information and knowledge as a result of the cancellation.

The content of the daily leaves much to be desired, as suggested by the falling sales and readership as well as the unsteady financial standing of the daily. It was reported recently that its publisher Utusan Melayu (M) Sdn Bhd had defaulted on a RM2.9m-loan from Affin Islamic Bank Berhad.

Thus, the ranting and raving of the Malay daily and its owner only camouflage the hard and bitter truth of Utusan experiencing financial haemorrhage over the years – primarily of its own doing. It really is about ringgit and sen at this juncture of the ailing daily.

A newspaper worth its salt should proudly and boldly stand on its reputation as a credible and responsible media organisation that would attract the attention, and subsequently loyalty, of many readers who seek credible information and reliable views.

The migration of many readers from mainstream newspapers to news sites (that are perceived to be independent and critical), especially before the dawn of the new Malaysia, should be instructive to those who still indulge in unfair and irresponsible journalism.

A daily that depends on state support while spewing bigotry and at times even defamatory remarks only alienates itself from right-thinking and concerned Malaysians. Consequently, it does not deserve taxpayers’ money – from both Malays and other ethnic groups – for its financial survival.

If cost-cutting measures are necessary in these critical moments of the new government, it should seriously think of cancelling subscriptions of all newspapers beyond the Ministry of Education. By doing so, the playing field is also levelled to a large extent. By now, many of us would know the real reason why Utusan group executive chairperson Abd Aziz Sheik Fadzir was eager to meet up with Ministry of Education officials.

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By now, Aziz and colleagues should also know that responsible, ethical and independent journalism is crucial to press freedom and democracy.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

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IT.ScheissJohan Khun Pana Recent comment authors
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Johan Khun Pana
Johan Khun Pana

Can’t these people ever think out of the box?
Be competitive and give MalaysiaKini or even Malaysia Chronicle a run for their money.
The world is going Digital , vehicles are going electric and even banks are pushing for Digital purse/wallet. And next year no more plastic straws (in the Federal territories)…

IT.Scheiss

Several years back, Malaysiakini had applied for a print publishing permit without success. Obviously, Malaysiakini felt that it could make more money and have a wider reach with a print publication.

As for publications and readership increasingly going digital, that true but as I have pointed out in my blog posts below, advertising revenue online and digital is about one tenth or less than print advertising revenue and based upon the U.S. experience, for every US$1 increase on online ad revenue, there’s a US$10 drop in print ad revenue. In 2012, worldwide ad revenue on Google surpassed total newspaper ad revenue in the US and Facebook ad revenue has risen sharply.

IT.Scheiss

– /cont’d

I suppose that after plastic straws are banned in the Federal Territories, they will have to provide us with digital virtual straws or we revert to good old wax coated paper straws like back in the 1950s or we revert to drinking from the cup. Hopefully the staff don’t wash the cups and glasses in the toilet bowl.

However, no straws could be a good thing, since the lime seeds won’t anoyingly get stuck in the straw as I drink my iced lime tea.

The managements of these eateries either are too cheapskate or lack the brains to buy a few strainers to keep the lime seeds out of the tea or they are too lazy to train their workers.

And, Malaysia expects to become a “developed, high income nation” by 2020 postponed to 2025.

IT.Scheiss

– /cont’d
As for electric cars being the future of vehicles, if there is not a wide enough network of fast charging stations nationwide, the popularity of electric cars will not be sustainable and for practical reasons, motorists will revert to petrol or diesel cars. Back in the 1980s, Malaysia promoted the use of LPG fueled cars but the dearth of LPG refueling facilities at petrol stations is a disincentive to the adoption of LPG fueled cars.

Check out this video:-
“Is Tesla a cult? The inconvenient truth about electric cars.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6GeHnMwl1c

Also check out my blog:-
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2018/09/e-voting-system-screw-up-results-in.

IT.Scheiss

-/More:-

“NEW YORK TIMES RETRENCHING STAFF – WELCOME TO THE INFORMATION AND SERVICES ECONOMY”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2017/06/new-york-times-retrenching-staff.html

“ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2016/12/another-one-bites-dust.html

“SO THAT’S IT – THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER FINALLY TUTUP KEDAI (CLOSED SHOP)”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2016/03/so-thats-it-malaysian-insider-finally.html

“EDGE DOWNSIZING, TMI FOR SALE, KINIBIZ TO SHUTTER”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2016/01/edge-downsizing-tmi-for-sale-kinibiz-to.html

“MORE ON THE SLOW BUT STEADY DECLINE OF NEWSPAPERS DUE TO FALLING ADVERTISING REVENUE”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2015/03/more-on-slow-but-steady-decline-of.html

IT.Scheiss

Check out my blog posts:-

“NEWSPAPER EMPLOYMENT IN U.S. DROPS 45% (BY 32,000) IN 10 YEARS, WHILST 6,000 JOB INCREASE IN DIGITAL SEGMENT CANNOT MAKE UP”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2018/08/newspaper-employment-in-us-drops-45-by.html

“FOCUS MALAYSIA ACQUIRED, TWO-THIRDS OF STAFF LIKELY TO BE FIRED”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2018/02/focus-malaysia-acquired-two-thirds-of.html

“MEDIA CONTENT EVERYWHERE BUT WHERE’S THE REVENUE?”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2017/10/media-content-everywhere-but-wheres.html

“FREE MALAYSIA TODAY SEEMS TO THINK THAT JOB CUTS AT SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS ARE GOOD”
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/2017/10/free-malaysia-today-seems-to-think-that.html

IT.Scheiss

– /Contd.

Utusan depended a lot on government subscriptions and is suffering from their withdrawal now.

Star reported its lowest quarterly nett profit of RM1.4 million in Q2 2018 and it’s share price closed down at 83.5 sen on 21 Sept 2018.

https://www.malaysiastock.biz/Stock-Chart.aspx?securitycode=6084&mode=D

IT.Scheiss

Yes, responsible, ethical and independent journalism is crucial to press freedom and democracy but how many of such publications in Malaysia, whether print or online are self-sustaining from subscription and advertising revenue?

How many of them can survive without a rich sponsor propping them up financially?

What happened to The Malaysian Insider?
What happened to the print edition of Aliran?
Will the subscription-based The Malaysian Insight survive and thrive?
Is Free Malaysia Today self-sustaining from ads?

A free press still needs money to survive.