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Online journalism, democracy and national integration : a case study of Malaysia

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:40 authored by Rahmat Ghazali
This study examines the significance of online journalism for democracy and national integration in Malaysia. It involves semi-structured interviewing of opinion formers across these areas. The fundamental enquiry is whether the work of online journalism associated with the middle class is contributory to democratic change and instrumental for national integration.;This study explains that 400 years of colonialism within Malaysia's history has been responsible for the formation of a plural society within which the Malays are the indigenous who make up the largest community. British colonists were responsible for the influx of Chinese and Indian communities. Since then issues of Malay supremacy, and closer interethnic-relations, or principally national integration, have become key concerns. This has resulted in the government having to place social order and national security as high priorities, which became the basis for various stringent laws affecting freedom of the press and of speech.;The emergence of online journalism has marked some trends of democratic change and national integration. The government assurance of non-censorship of the Internet, espoused in the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 supports such trends, particularly through online journalism. However, the majority of Malaysian opinion formers are contented with the democratic practices in Malaysia even amidst intense criticism of its substandard label as compared to Western liberal democracy.;This study views online journalism as a new public sphere where social and political discourse, criticism, debate and discussion, have become common trends. However, the new public sphere is also responsible for social tension. The government is positively responding to some of the criticisms and dissenting pieces highlighted through the new public sphere but not to a scale that could be considered as rampant democratic change.


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Media and Communication

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University of Leicester

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