Malaysian Newspaper Discourse and Citizen Participation

  •  Arina Anis Azlan    
  •  Samsudin A. Rahim    
  •  Fuziah Kartini Hassan Basri    
  •  Mohd Safar Hasim    


Newspapers are a particularly important tool for the communication of government agenda, policies and issues to the general public. An informed public makes for better democracy and active citizen participation, with citizens able to make well-informed decisions about the governance of their nation. This paper observes the role of Malaysian mainstream newspapers in the facilitation of citizen participation to exercise their political rights and responsibilities through a critical discourse analysis on newspaper coverage of the New Economic Model (NEM), a landmark policy of the Najib Administration. It is revealed that Malaysian newspapers carry an ideology that depicts the government and the elite in positions of power. The government, the Prime Minister, the NEM and the NEAC report were foregrounded and positively highlighted. Although many of the articles contained calls for the people to prepare and support the NEM, issues pertaining to the people and the importance of the support of the people were frequently being backgrounded or left out of the newspapers. News reporting should facilitate understanding of government agenda, because the news media is a main avenue of communication between a government and its people. The failure of the press to inform, communicate and stimulate citizen participation among the people could very well prove to be damaging toward the credibility of the local press. The mainstream news press should provide access and support citizen participation by recognising that they are a valuable resource for citizen decision-making and for democracy.

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