Journalism and Democracy: A Study of Online News and Print News Coverage of the 2013 Malaysian General Election - (Pages 46-57)

Mohd Faizal Kasmani

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia


Abstract: Journalism is seen as an important factor in fostering the conditions necessary for democracy to thrive. Dominant scholarship on journalism has tended to adopt the connection between journalism and democracy as a naturalised part of understanding the value and norms of journalism practices. However, there are considerable differences in how journalists understand their role based on social, cultural, historical and political contexts. This study looks into the coverage of two Malaysian news providers, namely MalaysiaKini which represents online journalism, and Sinar Harian, which represents press journalism in Malaysia. The 13th Malaysian General Election will be used as a case study. Both news organisations are regarded as models of emerging free and independent journalism practice in Malaysia. Based on Brian McNair’s (2003) normative understanding of political journalism, this article attempts to understand how normative expectations of journalism in an emerging democracy such as Malaysia are practised and understood. Findings show that although Sinar Harian provides a more balance coverage and attempts to provide objective reporting of the political reality in Malaysia, MalaysiaKini is more effective in playing the role of a watchdog over ruling authorities.

Keywords: Journalism, Democracy, Online News, Malaysia, Election.