The Covid-19 virus evidently reached Malaysia in January 2020. As time passed by, the pandemic was getting serious, forcing the government to implement the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March 2020. Since then, everything has been different. Our movements are restricted and we are forced to practise new norms. Everyday, we anticipate new updates from government officials particularly the Minister of Defence and Director General of the Ministry of Health. Just like any other Malaysians, the writer is very much concerned about the number of new cases reported each day while hoping the curve to flatten.
To most individuals, most issues and events are viewed more through mass reporting than personal experience. We usually get the most updates through newspapers (online and offline). It is believed that the medium is one of the essential tools, acting as a public representative in monitoring government’s work as well as to feed the people with the latest information regarding current issues. Thus, newspaper can be considered as one of the most dominant forms of connection between the people and the government as it helps the government officials to deliver the latest information as well as updated instructions in order to deal with the disaster.
However, as media nowadays are driven by social media such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, blogs and personal webs, the news shared is decided by the number of “share” or traffic counts rather than the accuracy of their content. In simpler words, some of the irresponsible stakeholders serve us with – what we want and not what we need. It becomes a “thicket …. which stands between us and the facts of life, as described by Danial Boorstin, in his book The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. The sharing game has been becoming internationally popular and is considered as the new definition of infinite achievement. The lure of gaming us for sharing is too appealing for anyone to resist. Unfortunately, this has made the real and fake (news) become indistinguishable.
It is a blessing to have an effective task force aided by local media practitioners that have worked 24/7 acting as a shield from unreliable news. An official site called sebenarnya.my with its trending tagline “tak pasti, jangan kongsi” has been doing an amazing job, distinguishing fake with the real news. Biggest appreciation to Malaysian COVID task force in successfully coordinating the transfer of the news. Even though there were some unfortunate mistakes, their efforts in delivering the latest updates regarding the pandemic should not go unnoticed.
We are in the thick of a pandemic – but one day, it will end. May He ease and bless us all. Amin..
Centre for Language Studies, UTHM
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