“A Society Changed by Journalism” was greatly discussed and debated by 48 renowned journalists from 17 countries at the World Journalists Conference 2022 held via Zoom on 26th April 2022.
Organised by the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) with the cooperation of the Asian Journalists Association (AJA) based in Seoul, Korea, the conference had successfully triggered the participants to speak their minds openly relating to their professional experiences in the country they represented.
Editor of Malaysia World News (MWN), Norila Mohd. Daud said the topic covers a big scope and perspectives depending on the medium used by the journalist whether newspaper or online news portal.
Before the social media and online news portal came into the media world, a handful of journalists who managed to strike by-lines on the front page of the newspaper will become famous and influential, she added.
“These journalists were considered as successful propagandists to change the society in several aspects such as political ideology, culture, religion, economy, international relationships, lifestyles and fashion trends.
“The handful numbers of journalists were influential via their news reports and writings in the newspapers and often became the target of politicians and public figures to disseminate their messages to the public and supporters.
“Unlike now, many mainstream newspapers owned by the former ruling government have either been closed down or experiencing shrinking in readerships following the emergence of too many independent news portal, social media and sponsored bloggers in the country, ” Norila said at the World Journalist Conference 2022.
The society today has many choices and options to get their information. It depends on what they want and like to read and what they will gain from the information. In the digital era, readers have many choices to turn to such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and government/agencies websites to get the latest information on any issue.
From these options, it is obvious that journalism alone could not change the society. However during the COVID-19 pandemic, journalism has become very powerful as the people are following the development of the infections closely both in the country and the global situation via the newspapers, electronic media and online news portals.
As Malaysia recently has three Prime Ministers within a short period before the 15th General Election (GE) due in 2023, then it is relevant to associate how journalism especially online journalism has managed to change the mindset of the people to the extent that state elections held in Sarawak, Melaka and Johor recently have witnessed a change in the political landscape.
Based on the political scenario before the GE in 2018, a scholar of Master of Art Mass Communication, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Ziinine Britshi has completed his research thesis “Online Journalism: Changing Public Mindset and Political Conflicts in 1917.
His research findings have proven that online journalism has succeeded in changing the society in Malaysia in 2018.
“This is the most realistic example whereby the roles and effectiveness of online journalism and new media in changing the mindset of the public that resulted in the change of Malaysian government in 2018,” said Norila.
Hassan Humeida from Germany said, as carriers of important messages, journalists are able to positively change the entire societies and make them better and special.
“The changes to society that journalists had initiated have been reinforced in recent years by the social media and the amazing potential for human development.
“Some of the changes were positive but others negative which resulted in society being cautious not to be hit by the disaster of misinformation and disinformation or better known as fake news,” Hassan said.
Lan Phong from Dantri Online Newspaper, Vietnam believes that journalism has been creating social changes by providing information for the public, raise awareness and pushing local authorities to have sound decisions and policies.
“Journalism has the ability to incite social change by reporting on subjects that have been deeply-rooted in people’s minds.
In Vietnam for instance gender inequality is a long problem influenced by Confucianism and feudal view of male preference. In the past men used to play the most important roles in the family and always have the final say, men are allowed to go to schools while girls are not permitted.
Journalists in Vietnam have actively joined in fighting against gender discrimination to defend the rights of women and girls. They have organised various events and propagandas on gender inequality to raise awareness and change people behaviours and call for the amendment of relevant laws and policies on the issues.
Bilal Bassal from France said, with the emergence and spread of digital journalism at a tremendous speed, journalists worldwide are realizing that their presences are indeed a danger to traditional journalism.
“As the latter has lost a lot of its audiences, some analysts predicts its demise will be soon. The real problem is not in the survival or end of the print media but in the loss of credibility of press information which can become, or somewhat has already become a real danger that can change an entire society,” Bilal added.
“Journalists are often closer to the truth than most communities and have important roles in enlightening people and helping them and thus society can benefit from journalists and their effects on people to become better
“When we look at history, we see that several societies have moved forward politically, economically and socially and thanks to the great input and influence of journalists as well as to the journalist’s crucial role in using their reports to limit abuses and expose assaults on freedom of democracy,” said Nurzhan Kasmalieva from Kyrgyzstan.
She said, the amazing advances in social media have contributed to huge changes on how societies think and behave. Combining technology, speed and ease, social media has changed behaviours, affected attitudes and imposed a new way of life and communication throughout the world. –Malaysia World News