Rais: Readers will most likely shift to Internet

(Bernama) – Readers will most likely shift to the Internet for news, if the traditional media continue with their old style of presenting news based on what the editors feel that people should read or use the media as a propaganda tool.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said this was because the Internet allowed the people to read what they wanted to read.

“The Internet has created a new phenomenon of change all over the world,” he said at the opening the International Conference on Free and Responsible Journalism, here, today.

The text of his speech was read by the ministry’s deputy secretary-general (Information), Datuk Azmi Ali.

Rais, however, said the role of responsible journalism was still relevant to the development of a nation.

“Journalists need to be free and self-governing to fulfill their duty of providing information to the people with a simple guideline, such as their first obligation is to truth, their loyalty is to the citizens, the essence is discipline of verification, and maintaining independence from those they cover.”

“Journalists face daily risks posed by tight media laws and the threats against them include non-renewal of the printing license for their publication, lawsuits, jail or fine, and harassment in the form of newsroom interference by the government.”

He said in countries without freedom of the press, the majority of people who reported the news might not follow the subscribed standard of journalism.

“Non-free media are often prohibited from criticising the government and in many cases are required to carry propaganda as if it were news. Various other forms of censorship may restrict reporting on issues the government deems sensitive,” he added.

Rais said in view of all these issues, challenges and guidelines, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) founded in 1909 in the United States was dedicated to encourage the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behaviour.

He said the SPJ came up with a code of ethics to be voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and was widely used in the newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behaviour.

Some 60 participants from Malaysia and countries of the South, namely Azerbaijan, Brunei, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Vietnam are attending the two-day conference.