BN Late Embracing New Media

April 1, 2008

BERITA BERNAMA
April 01, 2008 21:19 PM

BN Late In Embracing ‘New Media’, Says Academician

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 (Bernama) — The Barisan Nasional (BN) must admit that the coalition was too late in opening up to the “new media” that influenced voting patterns in the March 8 general election, said University Malaya (UM)’s Media Studies Department lecturer Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah.

He said that a study he conducted titled ‘The 12th Malaysian General Election: A study on theory, form and strategic concepts from media coverage analysis’ before the election had indicated that some states would fall to the opposition due to the influence of new media on young voters.

“When I did a review (after the election), I found that 70 per cent of the results were influenced by the new media, especially blogs,” he told reporters after the ‘Forum on Media and Society in the 2008 General Election’ held at UM Tuesday.

Abu Hassan said the data and conclusions reached by him were not used by the BN to repulse attacks through the new media but the opposition came for the findings, which involved 1,500 respondents from all states and 300 volunteers.

“We must be more open (to new ideas) as the opposition was already using the new media since 1998 with 45 bloggers, rising by 50 percent in 1999 and reaching 7,500 bloggers by the middle of 2004,” he said.

Abu Hassan said as opposed to the BN having only two websites and one blog in 2004, the opposition had “thousands” of websites allied to the opposition.

He said the opposition had “indirectly trained” some bloggers to become politicians and who eventually won parliamentary seats.

“The older generation in the opposition like (DAP adviser) Lim Kit Siang had also used blogs as an information channel,” he added.

Abu Hassan, who has been blogging since 1998, said it was not easy to win the trust of blog readers, adding that it could take up to nine years to achieve that.

He said if the BN did not take steps to embrace the new media there was a possibility that it will lose all in the next general election.

Abu Hassan said Malaysia now had the most bloggers after Europe and Indonesia as the younger generation placed greater importance on those who disseminated information faster rather than getting it from the traditional sources.

He said in his study, there was a case of an opposition candidate not being well known in his constituency but a day after he posted his profile on a blog, 70 percent of the residents in the area knew about him.

“As the younger generation is more inclined towards this new media, this generation also spreads blog content to parents and family quickly,” he said.

A panelist at the forum, columnist Datuk Johan Jaffar, said the influence of blogs and the short-messaging system in the general election could not be denied.

“In Malaysia, people trust the Internet more than official sources… the (opposition) election campaign was conducted unconventionally and quietly,” he said.

Johan said he hope it would be a “wake up call” for the government.

— BERNAMA

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