The evolving role of New Media

Chua Chin Leng
Asian Correspondent

It is only a few years old, but the potential of what New Media can do and the role it will play in shaping society and setting the agenda on issues that affect the lives of people are going to be significant and crucial as we move forward. From the days of the petition in the NKF mismanagement to Mas Selamat, the New Media has emerged as the new voice of conscience. It has usurped the role of the Old Media which was once the feared fifth estate in checking the roles of govts. In a way they won this role by default as the Old Media voluntarily relinquished this responsibility which served it so well in the past. The Old Media has lost its credibility by not doing what it was expected to do. It left a gaping hole waiting to be filled and it was so convenient for the New Media to step in.

The high prices of public housing is a good example where reports of the Old Media were just parroting the official view and reporting ad verbatim with little comments to the contrary. It was left to the New Media to do the necessary. Likewise the issue of citizen versus non-citizen privileges. Without the push and outcry in cyberspace about the sacrifices of citizens, nothing could possibly change as the official view was like being carved in stone, that citizens must compete with non citizens and losers just got themselves to be blamed. Now the MOE and even HDB are getting in on the act to differentiate and discriminate in favour of citizens.

And all this while there was a deafening silence from the Old Media. The poor journalists and reporters, with all their talents and writing skills, must be so frustrated for having nothing meaningful and purposeful to write or cause to champion, but to write about the high livings of dogs and pets. Their only major outlet was the conflict in the Aware saga when everyone was mustered to write incessantly about it, and we could see how productive they could be given the chance.

The role of the New Media is taking shape, will only grow louder and play a bigger role in things to come. The next general election could see the blossoming of the New Media and could put it in direct contest against the Old Media in how election news is reported, and winning readership. It may also be the first milestone in the demise of Old Media in reporting political events and news. The Old Media will be assigned to report only the facts and figures while the controversial commentaries will become the hallmark of the New Media.

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