1. What does it mean to be a journalist or media worker in Malaysia?
It means operating in an environment which has many challenges for the media. Let me outline a few of the challenges:
1) The media landscape is changing rapidly and the challenge is to operate while making a profit and paying salaries and overheads.
2) Journalists are vastly underpaid. And it’s a worse scenario for the vernacular media. Pay scales have not changed much and salary adjustments have been few and far between and when done at minimal rates.
3) There are many restrictive laws in the country, making it difficult for journalists to access information.
4) The public and other stakeholders do not value good journalism.
5) Competition from social media - where they do not operate within professional and ethical considerations.
2. Do you see media freedom in Malaysia moving forward?
Not with this present government. Most government officials comprise people who were in a previous administration where the media were repressed.
3. What can we do to be better?
Of course we can. Firstly, the government must recognise a free media; secondly, media must operate professionally within a Code of Conduct (which can be administered by a Media Council); thirdly, journalists must always upgrade skills with training; and finally, we need to educate all stakeholders, including the public, on the need for a free and fair media.
4. What can we do to ensure media freedom?
With regards to repressive laws they must be repealed and amendments made where applicable. The media should self-regulate under a Malaysian Media Council as proposed by the previous government. And, commercial concerns must not override the Code of Conduct.
The #MYMediaMatters campaign is part of a multi-year project, Strengthening Malaysia’s Media for Change, supported by the European Union. For details please see the IFJ project page.