Boycott the Mainstream Newspapers !

The function of the press in a democracy is to inform citizens of the reality around them. An informed public is the very FOUNDATION OF DEMOCRACY. Sadly, the Mainstream Media (MSM) in Malaysia are nothing more than mere errand boys and girls for their political masters. They have completely prostituted themselves to become the state’s mouthpiece and propoganda machine. They practise gutter journalism and completely have no scruples or honour. Lets us start 2008 by boycotting the newspapers and show that the people will not be duped by their spins and lies.

Instead of spending RM70 a month on rubbish and wild spins, why not just subscribe to Malaysiakini or just read Malaysia-Today and perhaps some good blogs for free.

Click to the People’s Parliament for further information on this campaign.

HARTAL! HARTAL! HARTAL!

Do we, the people, have it in us to bring the falsehood mongers to their knees?’, Haris asks.

Well, all I want for Christmas is that we, the people, give the falsehood mongers a present of Hartal.

Hence the call by People’s Parliament for boycott on Malaysian newspapers.

Mission:

To persuade other people to stop buying BN propaganda

Purpose of action:

1) Knock newspaper circulation 2) Convince advertisers to pull back or pull out

Plan of action:

1) As individuals 2) Collectively

Mode of action:

1) A civil society initiative 2) In concert with Opposition

If you’re reading online and reading this now, chances are that you’re already sceptical of local news coverage by mainstream media. MSM has a deplorable track record of disinformation. It has relentlessly shaped public opinion to be favourable to BN’s vested interests, and conversely detrimental to our own as tax-paying rakyat.

Their unconscionable spin on recent shows of public disaffection – the Batu Burok episode, then the Bar Council, Bersih & Hindraf marches, protests against the Election Commission and earlier demos against toll hikes, petrol prices & rising costs – puts them firmly beyond the pale.

Now’s the time to put a brake on MSM’s runaway spin train.

Why now?

Because the general election may be just around the corner. Remember two elections ago and the despicable campaign that MSM carried out against the Reformasi movement. Remember how they vilified the attempt of PAS and DAP to work together. Through their false representation, MSM helped retain BN in power and so we get the government we thoroughly deserve.

Don’t let history repeat itself. We’ve learned. This time, we’ve got WMD: Weapon of Mass Media Deconstruction. Our WMD is ICT. Information is no longer the monopoly of the traditional gatekeepers, i.e. BN’s biddable newsboys. We’ll use technology to fight back.

Why is now a good time?

Because MSM have shot themselves in the foot by defending the indefensible. They have endorsed police curbing our right to free expression, the Home Ministry denying our fellow citizens arrested under ISA the right to due process, and painted a misleading picture of what’s happening in our country because they figure they can fool all Malaysians all of the time.

Previously MSM stabbed at our intelligence. They made out Hishamuddin Hussein’s clearly belligerent keris-waving as a ceremonial and conciliatory gesture to the non-Malays. MSM were cheerleaders when the Education Minister gave a stinging slap to Malaysians, who turned the other cheek to be slapped again and at this year’s Umno general assembly meekly bared their arse to be kicked.

The People’s Parliament is an advocacy to have better quality MPs to represent us in the august House. BN’s rogue gallery are shoddy goods and ought to be shipped out to sea and sunk.

Improving our political landscape and decreasing MSM influence are two objectives that go hand in hand. We know that some – or you might even contend, many – of the Ministers and BN MPs suck. Yet MSM has brainwashed our less informed brothers and sisters that this bunch of bananas (who call us “monyet” and “beruk” and “bocor”) are wonderboys (sons and in-laws par excellence) and we don’t have other options.

I, for one, would choose to brave the deep blue sea than stick with the devil we know. If there’s anything I’m proud of as a Malaysian, it’s that I’ve never voted BN and don’t intend to.

Please give us your input on this thread. And invite your friends here or forward this to them. It’s urgent that we act.

You can also post questions and I’ll try to give you a backgrounder on the workings of newspapers from my experience as a former copyeditor. ‘Boycott the newspapers’ will run as a series and continue tomorrow. Part 2 will explore how we can hit at MSM.

From the feedback we’re getting, increasing numbers of people have cancelled their newspaper subscription. However, this is indiscernible if we act alone here and there. To create an impact, we need one specific period when it’s clearly demonstrated to Malaysia that a lot of us are doing this, i.e. collectively refusing to buy. Why? To spread a viral contagion like how one Walk led to another to another.

There will have to be a dedicated Boycott Week when heaps of newspapers should demonstrably be seen stacked unsold at the news stands and a similar point made in other equally unsubtle ways. We’ll let you know the date later.

For now, People’s Parliament can start a testimonial corner where anyone who has stopped buying newspapers might post his decision, share very briefly when and why, and what his alternatives are.

Scattered throughout the several threads on Boycott are already more than a dozen such accounts. We’ll collate these comments for starters (you’re free to ask Haris to remove your previous entry if you object to it re-appearing in compilation) and open up a sort of signature campaign. We can publicise this list when we launch Boycott Week. What say you?

Below are two ideas from Paul Warren and CHK, which I think are great.

Paul suggests letting media planners know that we don’t believe what the newspapers say. So how can we lend credence to what the ads claim which are printed in these untrustworthy papers? CHK suggests that we inform advertisers we will switch products because they endorse mainstream media (MSM), which means they are endorsing misinformation, e.g. instead of Milo, we will opt for another lesser-known chocolate drink.

Here’s the integrated strategy. The message we send advertisers is they’re wasting money on newspapers; the more they advertise, the more they turn us off.

We bombard the targeted major advertiser(s) with mail notifying them we will promote their competitors who have refrained from giving MSM what they love most – money. Ad revenue, not selfless community service, is the raison d’etre of these profit-chasing newspapers.

Prominent advertisers, like Pizza Hut for example, are “good corporate citizens”. We, the people, are responsible citizens who will not support products and services of corporations which irresponsibly support MSM. And we expect responsible corporate behaviour in line with our lofty aspirations. Take for instance, The Body Shop. The secret of its success was an environmentally responsible image, and founder Anita Roddick’s deliberate decision not to advertise conventionally.

People’s Parliament will tell advertisers that when we target them, we will put their product claims to the test. We are going to evaluate their corporate history. We’re going to put their activities under scrutiny. We’re going to compare them with their competitors. If they spend so much on ads, their products surely cost more in order to cover their advertising and marketing expenditure. We are against indirectly subsidising MSM in this manner!

Paul will post a sample letter, checked for its legality by Haris, which we can all send to the advertisers to urge them to re-evaluate their media strategies.

Hindraf overnight did more for public awareness of the Indian condition than MIC in the half century the party has been toadying to Umno. We can achieve the same: Negative publicity for major advertisers; winning free publicity for non-advertisers whose products and services are our recommended substitutes.

CALLING for your input: We’re now doing word of mouth and word of mouse. Let’s take this to group level. Suggest the NGOs that will come on board. E-mail thepeoplesparliament@gmail.com if you can facilitate this networking. Also talk to your Resident’s Association or other groups (religious, professional, social, etc), then roll out the bandwagon.

So far, so good … we’re on track but we need a greater sense of urgency, okay?!

Source: The People’s Parliament

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