The Centre for Independent Journalism is a non-profit organisation promoting media independence and freedom of expression in Malaysia.
Malaysian youths still rely on mainstream media as primary source of information but they are taking it with a pinch of salt.
By Gayathry Venkiteswaran
KUALA LUMPUR: Young people using the Internet tend to visit the sites of the mainstream media online, a survey by Merdeka Centre revealed today.
Top of the list of sites visited were the Malay news media such as Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia (56%,
based on the first and second named sites), followed by international English and Chinese news portals (26%) while local alternative sites such as Malaysiakini, Merdeka Review and Malaysian Insider got the attention of about 12% of those who surfed the Internet for news.
According to the poll, the youths generally sourced their information from the mainstream media with half of them reading newspapers more than four days a week while 53% said they watched television news more than four
days a week. Those with internet access spent between 45 minutes and two hours daily online.
“However, there is a split in the trust towards the mainstream media as only six percent strongly trust the reporting on current and political issues, 40% somewhat trusting it,” said Merdeka Centre program director Ibrahim Sufian. Of the 49% who distrust the content, five percent expressed strong distrust.
“Young Malaysians are generally well informed as there is a high rate of internet use and many use it for news. But they are also skeptical over news offerings by the mainstream and the internet,” he said at a press conference today.
Nevertheless, internet use among the young people remained high, and showed an increase of 13% from 57% in 2007 to 70% today.
The survey is the third in the series of the National Youth Survey conducted by the centre with the support of The Asia Foundation. Polling was conducted from 13 November to 9 December 2008 with 2,518 respondents across the country involving young people in the ages of 20 to 35.
The results from the media consumption among the young people echoed the sentiments in a survey on media independence carried out in May 2008 in collaboration with the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
The 2008 survey revealed that Malaysians were critically assessing the content of the local mainstream media, upon which the majority relied heavily as sources of information.
The youth survey also highlighted differences in how young people of the many ethnic backgrounds identified themselves. More people from Sabah, Sarawak and the Chinese community chose to identify themselves as Malaysians first and the non-Malays and non-Muslim bumiputeras were also more open to the idea of a non-Muslim, non-Malay Muslim and woman Prime Minister for Malaysia.