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Mainstream media players need to mind their words

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – Sept 28, 2016: A linguist has cautioned the mainstream media, especially the print media to be mindful in their usage of words as failing to do so will impair not only their revenue but the country’s ethnic relations as well.

Professor Dr Faridah Ibrahim of Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL) said her latest research has found that people were progressively turning to the alternative media as their primary source of information.

Apparently, Faridah, who is the dean of IUKL’s Faculty of Arts, Communication and Education was not only referring to “insensitive” words but also words that sugar-coat issues of public interests, particularly issues concerning ethnic relations.

Faridah warned players in the mainstream media that excessive practice in using these types of words will eventually deter the public from buying the products of their publications.

And if that happens, the mainstream media will become irrelevant and lose their effectiveness in promoting racial and ethnic unity in the country, she said while speaking at the National Media Forum here today.

She said respondents of her study said that when it comes to news concerning ethnic relations, they prefer to tune in to alternative media, especially blogs which they deemed to be writing the “truth.”

“Telling the truth and diplomatically choosing the right words are two different things,” she later told The Mole.

“Because, telling the truth can sometimes hurt others’  feelings but if the words are diplomatically structured you can tell the truth without hurting the feelings of a particular ethnicity or seen to be stereotyping them.

“For example when the Interlock novel became an issue in 2011, the mainstream media chose to use the ‘P’ word in their stories,” she was referring to the ‘Pariah’ word, which is a derogative term used to insensitively describe Indians.

“That is not the right word. You want to report about ethnic issues but you are not aware of that particular ethnic’s sensitivity towards that word,” she said.

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Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]