Communication Theory (COM60404)AUGUST 2017 SEMESTER Final AssignmentQualitative News Analysis(Between a mainstream Malaysian newspaper & an alternative Malaysian newspaper)Introduction: “A GOOD newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself,” mused Arthur Miller in 1961. This news article revolves around the President of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and US President, Donald J. Trump. It says that Prime Minister Najib sought US help to end fights against the “racist” Rohingya, in Myanmar (Thestar.com.my, 2017).It further states that Malaysia summarized its commitment in fighting Rohingyan virtue and is conveying a compassionate action to aid fugitives who escaped the professed defeat by the military of Myanmar (Thestar.com.my, 2017).According to this article, the purpose of Najib’s visit to US was to set the US and Malaysia judicious collaboration firmly and also to establish a good tune for foreign partnership for both the parties in the future (Thestar.com.my, 2017). This article further details that Najib and Trump had a detailed meeting at the Oval Office, which was then followed by a delegatory meet-up with the senior members and advisors of the Trump administration which comprises the VP; Mike Pence, State Sec; Rex Tillerson, Defence Secretary; James Mattis, Chief of Staff General; John Kelly, National Security Advisor; Lt. General H.R. McMaster & Senior Advisor; Jared Kushner (Thestar.com.my, 2017).Prime Minister Najib also had a congregation with the Chairperson and members of US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at the Capitol building, which is a 200 years old framework, that helps to shape America’s international system (Thestar.com.my, 2017).Before the end of his visit, PM Najib delivered a speech as well at a lunch gathering which was arranged by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (Thestar.com.my, 2017)BackgroundThe StarThe first publishing of The Star newspaper was on the 9th of September in the year 1971 (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). The Star is an English medium, tabloid format newspaper in Malaysia and it started off as a regional newspaper with a plant in George Town, Penang (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). The newspaper circulation grew over 5 years and quickly overtook the then 139 year old News Straits Times by outselling them (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). In that time, the former and first Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman joined the board of Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd and became its chairman (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). On the 3rd of January 1976, The Star went national and set an office up in Kuala Lumpur and within two years, the headquarters had been relocated from Penang to Kuala Lumpur (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). With business booming, a new press with the latest technology of that time, the headquarters was then relocated to Petaling Jaya in 1981 (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). The company had expanded their publishing to include magazines such as “Kuntum” which is an educational monthly in Bahasa Malaysia, “Shang Hai” a business monthly for the chinese readers, “Galaxie” an English entertainment magazine and “Flavours” an English magazine on lifestyle and food (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). The company then moved their printing operations to a plant in Shah Alam called the Star media hub. The Star Northern Hub in Bayan Lepas, Penang was then followed after in 2003 (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). Printing capacity was greatly increased along with colour printing in the new plants (Careers.thestar.com.my, 2017). The Star is controlled by the Malaysian government whom hold majority shares under the name Bursa Malaysia Berhad and the shares are publicly listed on their website (Bursamalaysia.com, 2017). Free Malaysia Today The Free Malaysia Today is a bi-lingual and independent news portal. They concentrate their news on the current affairs in Malaysia (Reporters, 2017). The FMT has been presenting news and analyses perpetually whilst sticking to objectivity, of which FMT claims to be “the missing dimension in today’s news scene” (Reporters, 2017). Since 2009, we have been presenting news and analyses round the clock, staying true to objectivity – the missing dimension in today’s news scene (Reporters, 2017). FMT is now one of the most accessed news site in Malaysia, boasting a 1.5 million page views and more per day and still growing (Reporters, 2017). FINDINGS/ RESULTSHeadlinesThe newspapers that we have taken our articles from are; Star and Free Malaysia today for comparison. The first comparison to be made between the two articles are the Headlines. In the Star article, the headline given is “Najib arrives in US ahead of meeting with Trump” and in the Free Malaysia today article, “Analysis: Trump-Najib meeting may help Najib remain in power”. From the Star article, the headline can be seen as to introduce the story of the President of Malaysia arriving in US before his meeting and to some, can signify a stereotype of a hard working person. Using words like “ahead” to show that said person is not late for something. From the Free Malaysia today article, the headline seems to be on the other end of the spectrum of introducing the story. Using a strong headline going straight to the point of the story. This article headline is trying to convey a strong stereotype that the Malaysian President has an underlying agenda for the visit to the States. Both the headlines from the articles in Star and Free Malaysia today are relevant to its story respectively. SOURCES Trustworthiness of the sources: In The Star, Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique was used as primary source for the article. As he is a representative of Malaysia and is under the government, it seems like there is no doubt that the credibility of the source cannot be challenged. “Zulhasnan told Malaysian journalists that Najib’s visit was expected to reaffirm the Malaysia-US strategic partnership as well as set the tone for future bilateral and international collaboration.”. The statement made by the source are questionable with his use of language. For example, “reaffirm” and “set the tone”. The language used by the source portray the Prime Minister as more dominant than the President of the United States.Whereas, Free Malaysia Today portrayed light on both the sides of the coin. It cited analysis in the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Bulletin but at the same time added that the writer of the analysis didn’t mention “1MDB in all ceremonial meetings.” According to them, it was being used by Najib’s supporters to show and prove that their leader didn’t have anything to do with the 1MDB scandal. They’re arguing that in their article that the media, aided by the PM party, was trying to hide the wrongdoing by giving attention and full focus on the bigger story and not paying attention to the opposition’s 1MDB related allegations and calling them just a political plot against Najib. It further argues that the blazing absenteeism of a collective press conference during Najib’s visit to President’s House strengthened the image among Najib’s opponents that he was ignoring disputable questions — i.e the 1MDB scandal and political suppression in Malaysia. Language In terms of language, the Star article has an overall positive use of words in the story coverage. “The meeting, at the invitation of Trump, marks the 60th anniversary of bilateral ties between Malaysia and the United States.” , “Najib is expected to seek US’ support to end the violence against the ethnic Rohingya in Myanmar.”. Showing positive changes to be made during the visit and strong ties between the two countries. The story seemed almost too good to be true despite the 1MDB scandals and the US Department of Justice’s ongoing probe on the scandal. In the Free Malaysia Today article on the other hand provides strong adjectives such as “perceived strength” and “deliberate shirking” taken from “Trump’s invitation to the controversial Malaysian prime minister and the deliberate shirking of the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue during the visit leaves Najib in a position of perceived strength as he looks to extend his tenure as prime minister.”. The language in the Free Malaysia Today article convey a stereotype of the president of Malaysia as a fraud in their use of language. Visual imagesThe Star Newspaper, has started their article with the picture of the PM and his wife, Rosmah, descending the air-stairs, followed by the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique and his wife, at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. They are focusing how both; the PM and his wife are eager to co-operate and work with the US Government for the betterment of Malaysia and how concerned they are to talk about the Rohingya issue. But, Free Malaysia Today newspaper has started its article with the picture of the President of USA and PM Najib. The picture shows how close they are standing next to each other, holding each other’s arms, showing strength, unity, support and agreement with each other’s views. Story angle and perspectiveThe Star has chosen to take the picture in the positive angle singing only praises for the PM Najib. Star has only chosen to bring forth what the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique has spoken about, what actually happened during the visit, who the PM met and what they discussed about, what deals they signed and what activities the PM and his wife did and showed how proud the Malaysians should be, for PM Najib to receive that importance from the US President and how committed the PM and his party is to fight for the rights of the Rohingya and in sending a humanitarian mission to help refugees. But even after all the glitters the Star decorated the news with, Free Malaysia Today’s views dominates the Star’s story. Free Malaysia Today has presented a number of reasonable arguments that the Star was definitely missing out. If the points that Free Malaysia Today added in its article, were added in Star’s article, only then we could have called it unbiased and complete. Star didn’t comment on the opposition parties’ members’ and the public’s views. Whether they appreciated it or were not happy with the PM’s visit to US. So, naturally, Star is not in a position to be making any kind of judgement call. But since the Free Malaysia Today happened to cover it all and their story’s perspective helped the people to understand what’s really going on, which is a big challenge for Star and the Government itself.BalanceThe Star being aided by the government’s party hasn’t maintained the balance in the article. It has solely focused on praising about the PM’s visit to US saying what a huge success it was and how well was the PM received by the President of the USA. It has ascribed Najib with increasing Malaysia’s international image, outline, role and such. Free Malaysia Today, on the other hand, has tried to show the true meaning of the PM’s visit to USA and the real reason of the deals that he made. They told the world how the political opposition ridiculed PM Najib as being aloof and for selling Malaysia’s assets for his personal benefit. Unfortunately, as an online based news source, FMT does not get as much exposure to the rest of the nation who do not have access to the internet. Fact/Commentary In The Star news article, it can be seen as if the article is entire factual. This is because the sources cited from the news article was based on the Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique. As it is given that the Malaysian Ambassador would have been already briefed by either Prime Minister of Malaysia of his visit to the States or their representative. Therefore The Ambassador can see been as speaking for the Prime Minister himself. There are no opinions given in the article by the writer. In the Free Malaysia Today, the report can be seen as partly commentary as it is written on the heading as an “Analysis”, meaning the report would given as partly commentary of the visit. That being said, all facts of the visit were stated in the given news article, such as “Malaysia’s role in investing in the US, countering Islamic State and limiting its ties with North Korea”. An analysis was made, commenting on how there was no mention of 1MDB in all the official proceedings that was taken place. NeutralityThe Star is being biased and is all in favour of the government and lacks objectivity. The Star, in its article has covered only the positive aspects of the Prime Minister’s party ignoring other issues that the PM was held liable for as if they are trying to cool down that issue and anger of the people. Malaysia’s “government-affiliated media” or The Star, emphasised the success of the meeting, and Trump’s praise, crediting Najib with expanding Malaysia’s international profile and role and such, whereas Free Malaysia Today has actually talked about the issues that the Star magazine didn’t put the light on. It has discussed about the main issues that were not discussed by the two parties and were ignored “on purpose” like the 1MDB scandal.Also, when it came to do something for the country by the PM, many Malaysians were dismayed by the business or trade ‘worth of argument’ suggested by the PM to the United States i.e. the purchasing of Boeing airplanes from the USA. The people of Malaysia were full of anger and resent at the digression of investment to the US instead of fixing the failing infrastructure in Malaysia. Especially with the rising cost of living being a critical joint for the citizens, the opposition parties ridiculed Najib for acting aloof and selling out Malaysia’s assets for his own advantage. So here, we can see Free Malaysia Today pointing out the cons of the deals that the Star appears to go in the favour of but the FMT (Free Malaysia Today) has uncovered the truth in-front of the world. DISCUSSIONWhile comparing both the articles, when it comes to applying communication theories, we can first apply the Gate Keeping Theory as it is the process of the selection of information according to the level of importance & relevance (Universiteit Twente, 2017). Gatekeeping is the summarizing of various forces that come into play as news people make decisions about what messages will be selected to present to their audiences (Roberts, 2005). Gatekeepers can control the people’s knowledge of the real happenings by allowing few stories through the gate section and keeping the rest out (Universiteit Twente, 2017). For example, in The Star news, they just wrote about Najib expecting to ask for US’ help in ending the terror against the Rohingya. Or on another occasion they sourced Zulhasnan mentioning the Malaysian journalists that the PM’s visit was expected to reaffirm the Malaysia-US partnership as well as setting the tune for the bilateral & foreign collaborations in future.Whereas in Free Malaysia Today, on the other hand, decided to let the cat out of the bag. According to the writer of the article, Wong, there was absolutely no mention of 1MDB in all official proceedings. And that it was being used by Najib’s supporters to prove that their leader had nothing to do with the 1MDB scandal. Malaysia’s mainstream and government-affiliated media emphasised the success of the meeting, and Trump’s praise, crediting Najib with expanding Malaysia’s international profile and role.”This rosy picture of Najib’s visit, however, did not reflect the opinions of all Malaysians. Many — especially opposition supporters — while acknowledging the importance of their leader meeting the US president, focused on Najib’s personal and political gains, rather than gains for Malaysia.” Next, we look at another theory which could be applied on the findings, the Agenda Setting theory. According to Bryant and Zillmann, Agenda Setting theory is the capability to clout the explicitness of themes regarding public agenda (Bryant and Zillmann, 2002). In the Star paper, this can be seen from the multiple coverage reports of the same visit of Prime Minister Najib to the United States. From the acceptance of invitation by the President of the United States on 24th of August 2017, to the 11th of September of which the Prime Minister departs the country, all the way to the 16th of September, of which the Prime Minister of Malaysia had already landed back to his country 1 day prior. This extensive and wide coverage of the visit can be seen as an attempt to stress the magnitude of the meeting, directing attention of the entire nation from other pressing matters such as the 1MDB probe. The coverage of the visit on Free Malaysia Today was also noted. The Free Malaysia Today articles have been covering the visit as well but also seems to be bringing up the 1MDB probe as frequent. This brings us to our next finding with the application of the framing theory. Framing theory as described by Robert M. Entman of the Northwest University, as involving “selection” and “salience”. He further explained framing as to pick certain attributes of “perceived reality” and to make them more “salient” in communicating text in behaviours that advocate a “particular problem definition”, “causal interpretation”, “moral evaluation”, and/or “treatment recommendation” for said item. (Entman, 1993). This can be seen in the Star newspaper that was covering the visit from the 24th of August to 16th of September. We have found that the article headlines and language used for the coverage throughout were always on the positive note. Here are some examples of the headline and languages used in the Star newspaper; “Najib accepts Trump’s invite for meeting at White House”, a news headline on 24th August 2017 (Thestar.com.my, 2017), “Najib: Malaysia, US to study possible bilateral trade arrangement” a news headline on 8th September 2017 (Ahmad, 2017), “Najib, Trump expected to discuss US visa waiver programme for Malaysia” a news headline on 10th of September (Zulfakar, 2017), “Najib: Malaysia is important to the US” a news headline on 12th September 2017 (Zulfakar, 2017). We found that the language used in just the headline itself has a theme that guides and directs the readers to the facts of the visit, almost like it had a framework used by all the reporters in The Star. It could be seen as if there were only nice things to be said about the Prime Minister and his visit with no mention whatsoever of the 1MDB probe. As for Free Malaysia Today, the story circulates around the facts of the visit along with recurring theme of the 1MDB scandal as it is an online independent news source, FTM has no superior to oppose them in covering the scandal. Language used we not as forgiving as The Star news. ConclusionThus, from the comparison and findings of the two articles, we can now conclude that social media is, without any doubt, a blessing for journalism & is a precious source to increase liability, clarity & message conveyance. For reporters and correspondents, social media has become a fundamental and definite tool aid to stay in tone with the future news updates quicker than ever it did previously, as well as circulating and spreading news articles and entities to the receivers/ listeners who may never had a simple reach to any of it. Majority of news outlets use news articles as a different approach and method to present and impose their own viewpoints and tend to get biased, while attempting to portray it as drawing in points of the youth in their favour. Upon close inspection, a person would know that the application of social media exposes the mystery of media impartiality and unbiasedness, as much as it encourages the expansion of news.Social media should accept the truth and not dodge away from their often obvious prejudices and biases anymore, when striving to deliver the news.The public then might come across the information they absorb as the result of a guardian of news, instead of the usual gatekeeper of reality and genuine information and the procedure of information making and utilisation gets even more sincere.If our motive and purpose is attained, i.e. media being free and delivering us the information as is, without keeping anything from the public and showing both sides of the story, then, after the news processing through political and social filtration, readers would then admit and accept the existence of ‘Others’ as a possible origin for opinions, facts and information.Word Count : 3413Reference:Ahmad, R. (2017). Najib: Malaysia, US to study possible bilateral trade arrangement – Nation | The Star Online. online Thestar.com.my. Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/09/08/najib-us-malaysia-to-study-on-possible-bilateral-trade-arrangement/ Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.Bryant, J. and Zillmann, D. (2002). Media effects : advances in theory and research. online 2, p.1. Available at: https://www.worldcat.org/title/media-effects-advances-in-theory-and-research/oclc/442892262Accessed 29 Dec. 2017.Bursamalaysia.com. (2017). STAR MEDIA GROUP BERHAD S (6084). online Available at: http://www.bursamalaysia.com/market/listed-companies/list-of-companies/plc-profile.html?stock_code=6084 Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.Careers.thestar.com.my. (2017). Star Media Group Berhad Careers: Our People are Our Assets. online Available at: http://careers.thestar.com.my/about.asp Accessed 30 Dec. 2017.Entman, R. (1993). Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. online Unc.edu. Available at: https://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/teaching/articles/J-Communication-1993-Entman.pdfAccessed 30 Nov. 2017.Reporters, F. (2017). Analysis: Trump-Najib meeting may help Najib remain in power. online Free Malaysia Today. Available at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/19/analysis-trump-najib-meeting-may-help-najib-remain-in-power/ Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.Reporters, F. (2017). About Us. online Free Malaysia Today. Available at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/about/ Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.Roberts, C. (2005). Gatekeeping theory: An evolution. online Chrisrob.com. Available at: http://chrisrob.com/about/gatekeeping.pdf Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.Thestar.com.my. (2017). Najib accepts Trump’s invite for meeting at White House – Nation | The Star Online. online Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/24/donald-trump-najib-razak-visit-us-sept-12/Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.Thestar.com.my. (2017). Najib arrives in US ahead of meeting with Trump – Nation | The Star Online. online Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/09/11/najib-arrives-in-us-ahead-of-meeting-with-trump/ Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.Universiteit Twente. (2017). Media, Culture and Society | Gatekeeping. online Available at: https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Media%2C%20Culture%20and%20Society/gatekeeping/ Accessed 3 Dec. 2017.Zulfakar, M. (2017). Najib: Malaysia is important to the US – Nation | The Star Online. online Thestar.com.my. Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/09/12/najib-malaysia-is-important-to-the-us/Accessed 1 Dec. 2017.
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