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Type: Thesis
Title: Exploring the strengths and limitations of development journalism in Malaysia.
Author: Ismail, Awan
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: Since decolonization in 1957, development journalism has played a central role in serving Malaysian governments by disseminating ideas on issues concerning that country’s national development. Indeed, development journalism is seen as the mainstream form of journalism practice in Malaysia, not only on domestic issues but also significantly, on regional and international issues. The thesis makes a contribution to understanding the different ways development journalism is conceptualised through an investigation of how and why development journalism is practised in Malaysia. Therefore, the main aims of this thesis are to analyze the role of development journalism in Malaysia, and how journalists understand and talk about its strengths and limitations. This is done by first, exploring how, why and when journalists/reporters who follow the development journalism philosophy appear to take a harmony-oriented approach towards framing international relations. Second, this thesis identifies what are the contributing factors impacting on journalists in adopting this harmonious reporting approach. In this regard, this thesis offers a comprehensive analysis of development journalism’s strengths and limitations as demonstrated in Malaysia when maintaining international relations with its neighbour, Singapore. I thus focus on development journalism practices in the Malaysian context and the general understanding of development journalism in Asian journalism. The empirical analysis identifies whether the media in Malaysia are applying the same concept of development journalism as proposed by Western scholars, or the reverse. In Malaysia, development journalism has been based on the idea that media organisations are partners and associates with the government. However, my analysis of current Malaysian journalism practices appears to demonstrate that, within the traditional tasks of media, new opportunities are emerging. The thesis identifies factors influencing the idea of a developing free press in Malaysia. In my case study, Malaysian reporting of the Malaysia-Singapore relationship provides an important example of the way the media helps define regional relationships for both countries and is essential to regional stability. By studying the news reporting on the Malaysia-Singapore relationship, the continuing development role of journalists when reporting the regional news becomes clearer. The ability of each journalist to express ideas or views consistently on the regional issues pertaining to the Malaysia-Singapore relationship is the benchmark of the seeking for harmony that I want to illustrate in journalism practices. The case study focuses on BERNAMA news online. As the national news agency controlling the flow of international and regional news for Malaysia, BERNAMA has to maintain the credibility of its news reporting, and help sustain the ties of the government with other countries. Apart from this, BERNAMA also has a critical role in defining and shaping the national perception of Malaysian foreign affairs and regional relationships. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used in the study: content analysis, textual analysis and in-depth interviews. An analysis of 497 BERNAMA news online documents from 1996 to 2008 is included, to investigate how BERNAMA demonstrates and frames the elements of ‘harmonious reporting’. Diplomatic agenda setting by government is also analyzed since it has an impact on reportage, specifically Malaysia-Singapore issues. The comparative analysis of the news reports reveals a trend towards reviewing this important relationship with Singapore, whatever the specific issue being discussed. This trend was more noticeable during Tun Mahathir’s premiership of 22 years (1981-2003). The in-depth interviews with Malaysian media practitioners, academics and policy makers present an interdisciplinary dialogue between journalism and political strategies studies that address the diplomacy strategy in managing the regional relationship through the media. The thesis concludes with a summary of what has been discovered about development journalism practices in Malaysia, and a note on what possible changes will occur in the future.
Advisor: Griffiths, Mary
Wilmore, Michael Joseph
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2013
Keywords: development jornalism; framing; Malaysia; national harmony; Asian journalism; international relations
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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