Saturday, 16 April 2016

Domination of News: Mainstream vs. Online


Syed Saddiq was a national pride when he displayed an impressive feat of being Asia’s best speaker three times in the renowned Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) Debating Championship. Recently, he made the headlines again for being a staunch supporter in rallying for the anti-Najib Declaration which is spearheaded by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The pride he carries in being a great speaker turned into a rather ironic situation as he was banned by four local universities from speaking. Syed's involvement in this declaration and his ban from speaking in universities soon became the talk of the town. This sparked a heated debate among Malaysians and people were quick to give their two cents on this matter either through the blogosphere world or through reporting in the mainstream news. However, there are differences in the way mainstream portals and online blogosphere cover this news.

Mainstream reporting tends to be more neutral in its writing and present their information in a matter of fact basis, perhaps this is due to the imposition of authoritative powers. In terms of mainstream news, the top story news when one searches for "Syed Saddiq" would be of him achieving Asia's best speaker award. Apart from that, mainstream articles on him are often opinions based on what Syed said and think himself instead of the public opinions of him. 

“I am not a flawless human being. I am also not a flawless Muslim. I, like every other human have made mistakes,” said Syed Saddiq.
Retrieved from

Mainstream news also try as much as possible to get the person involved to speak for themselves and in the case of Syed Saddiq, he was given a chance to explain himself especially in the clubbing scandal he was involved in. However, most mainstream print and broadcast media frequently report the same thing simultaneously and as such, becomes repetitive from one mainstream portal to another. 

While mainstream reporting is neutral in general, online blogosphere that covered Syed’s action and thoughts tend to be more aggressive in nature. The aggression varies from being angry with Syed’s opinions or being angry with the oppression the government is placing on him. Additionally, unofficial online posts tend to include personal opinions, especially in whether they think Syed’s action is right or wrong or contradictory in nature. 

"Saya berharap agar Syed Saddiq dapat tampil dan menafikan gambar-gambar ini sebagai palsu, photoshop yang sengaja digunakan untuk menjatuhkan kredibilitinya. Namun, sekiranya gambar ini didapati benar, maka saya memohon kepada pihak Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia untuk segera melakukan sesuatu agar perkara yang sama tidak berulang agar nama baik UIAM sebagai sebuah universiti ISLAM tidak tercemar oleh perbuatan sumbang sebegini." 

Retrieved from

Public opinions although chosen with bias by the author are presented by placing snippets of opinions from various social media. Those that condemn his action on one hand literally cursed him immensely while those that supported him were also quick to curse, but towards the other party which is the government. Online news were also quick-witted as it contains hints of sarcasm from the authors themselves regarding this matter. It becomes very obvious from the beginning of the article whose side those blogosphere authors are on. With that said, although the credibility of online posts are to be questioned, they provide critical point of views and arguments to make readers question the reality of truth. Especially in this case, people are able to look at both sides of the coin before placing judgement on Syed's actions and thoughts. 

Although readers can easily judge a mainstream news from an online one, there are certain similarities or patterns between these two. Naturally, both news report events based on what happened in itself. However, there is an inclination for duplication of news. For instance, online reporting tend to copy partially what mainstream media has reported as an introduction to the readers and to give a brief idea on what the whole story is and at other times, it is the same report written in layman's terms. Additionally, both news uses the focal point or a click bait to attract readers and in this case, it is Syed Saddiq being the top debater. 

As such, what constitutes as bad practice in online news in this case is the way defamatory elements exists in the news reporting. Syed’s clubbing activities were mostly exposed in the blogosphere, became viral and caught the attention of mainstream news. The news spread rapidly in the blogosphere, so much so that it became more like a tabloid news with the purpose of tarnishing a person's reputation to gain readership. Due to the account of him clubbing, online news were upfront and confrontational in questioning his faith in Islam without bringing into context how it would have an influence over his stance on the government. The manner in which the news was reported in the blogosphere was more towards a personal attack on his integrity instead of focusing on the main matter, which is the cause he believes in. For instance, they were also criticising him for being unemployed and still living under the same roof as his parents. This is seen as a bad practice as it exposes people's private lives unnecessarily. 

A good online news practice on the other hand should provide assurance to readers on its credibility by ensuring consistent accurate information. A good online news practice also avoids any form of purposeful defamation towards an individual especially a private one for whatever personal gain in mind. As such, mainstream news can be seen to be slower in reporting the clubbing activities of Syed and when they do write up about it, it revolved around how his clubbing pictures were surfacing fast on blogs and what Syed has to say about it without imposing a judgment or virtue on it. In an event that a false statement was published or wrong information was gathered, journalists or blog authors should own up to the fact that they reported wrongly. However, to emphasise the previous point, this mistake is mostly avoidable by ensuring news reported has sufficient accurate data to back it up. Apart from factual reporting, being objective in reporting online news is a good practice as a journalist's main purpose is to report details of what happened instead of taking sides and giving verdicts which could influence a reader's opinion. 

As both mainstream and online news have its pros and cons, it is recommended for people to read on both sides. There are certain elements in online news that are not present in mainstream news such as opinion. Opinion is important in shaping and influencing people's perceptions towards a certain matter. Although opinions can be provocative, it enables readers to critically view the matter. Mainstream news on the contrary, have the upper hand of being more credible as it tries to remove viewpoints of the journalist. Ultimately, it is up to the readers to decide on which news portal to be more reliable and take things with a pinch of salt. 


Abdullah, M. K. (2016, March 31). Democracy doesn't stop after reps get selected, top debater tells Bung. Retrieved from

Divakaran, P. (2016, March 14). I'm no party boy, says banned debater Syed Saddiq. The Star Online. Retrieved from

Kumar, K. (2016, March 27). 10 things about: Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Asia's top debater. The Star Online. Retrieved from

Murad, D. (2015, October 28). Syed Saddiq is again Asia's best debater. The Star Online. Retrieved from

Jelapang. (2015, October 9). Syed Saddiq: Najib memalukan negara. Retrieved from


  1. True enough. Always read story from different resources and think critically which is more reliable.

    1. I definitely, doubtlessly, undeniably, surely, agree with you! Do continue to read our blog and provide feedback for us. <3

  2. The problem lies in how we utilise our resources. Any fool who believes in everything they see or read are bound to be lied to.