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Friday, October 19, 2007

The RSF Downward Spiral 2 - Revenge of the Silent Mainstream

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Related post: The RSF Downward Spiral

Well, as Gomer Pyle would have said: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Not, as Borat would probably add.

In the wake of Malaysia dropping 32 places, and 18.75 index points, in the recently released RSF World Press Freedom Index 2007, there has been deafening silence from the mainstream English language print media regarding this. With one exception:

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe Sun - telling it like it is...
(click on image to download the story)

Kudos to The Sun. And Walski forgives you for burying it on page 7. At least you folks had the balls to run the story, factually, and not spin it to become something else. To be fair, though, Walski didn't check the print version of the mainstream papers. So, if someone did see anything in print, do holler back at Walski. As far as the online versions go - a big, fat, fucking zilch.

And speaking of online English and Bahasa Malaysia news sites - the major ones anyway - it goes without saying that it was only Malaysiakini that reported on the RSF index release, and how Malaysia fared.
(why the silence, and more, in the full post)

Image hosting by PhotobucketClick on image to read the full report (subscription required)

Earlier, just before Hari Raya, the Information Minister called in media representatives to "advise" them not to play up negative reports concerning the Government. ZAM essentially stated that the PM doesn't need to hear "the truth" from the media. Speak no evil, hear no evil, eh?

Could it be that the silence from the mainstream media was due to this? Or was it instructions from the infamous 4th Floor? Walski, unfortunately, isn't privy to these sorts of information, and doesn't have any little birds, insects or even amphibians lurking around to act as his informers... myAsylum's Cybernetic Remote Autnomous Pararoaches (CRAP) somehow have not managed to infiltrate this particular Fortress of Propaganda. So if you hear anything, you know what to do...

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini (yeah, who else) has also reported reactions to the nation's drop in rankings. Among the reactions reported came from the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ).

"Although dropping to 124th place is a big plunge, RSF's survey correctly reflects the concerns that most of us have about media freedom in this country," said Gayathry Venkiteswaran of the Centre for Independent Journalism.

"We urgently need to have a government parliamentary committee review these outdated press laws so that the media can perform its role in a democratic counrty," she told AFP.

(source: Malaysiakini - subscription required)

The same news report also quoted a statement from Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang, stating that "Malaysia's worst placing in the RSF 2007 worldwide press freedom index joins a list of indicators that all is not right with Malaysia". He further stated that had Zam's statement been taken into account, the ranking drop could have even been bigger. Walski kinda has to agree.

And perhaps this time around, the gravity of the RSF index is so immense that any amount of spin by the 4th Floor wouldn't be able to alter the way the top has spun.

Walski reckons we'll just have to wait and see if the mainstream media even picks this up. And more importantly, how the story will be told - within the narrow bounds of whatever freedom and leaway allowable still.