Dr Ross Tapsell, Misinformation expert, Senior Lecturer, Department of Gender, Media and Culture. Director, ANU Malaysia Institute
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Pic:

THE institutional reforms promised by the new government should include a total overhaul in concept in tune with the times and the future, if the institutions termed as mainstream media are to remain relevant into the future.

Misinformation expert Dr Ross Tapsell, a senior lecturer at the Australian National University’s department of gender, media and culture and the university’s Malaysia Institute director, even recommends the sacking of the “dinosaurs” occupying the top echelon of media institutions, mainly as operatives serving the purpose of the government of the day (or political party in control of the publication).

“Indonesia went from authoritarianism to democracy in the late 90s, and in the early 2000s everyone was talking about, you know, we need to transform TVRI and Antara from a state news organisation to a public broadcaster,” he said, speaking at the “Building Malaysia’s Resistance Against Fake News – Diagnosis & Antidote” forum organised by Hack/Hackers Kuala Lumpur in Petaling Jaya today.

“People are saying that now about Bernama and RTM, and TV3 and so on. Now, this is such a difficult task, but the lessons learned from Indonesia is that you probably need to replace all of the top echelon and the leadership within those organisations.

“You need top sack the dinosaurs that still believe that these organisations are state broadcasters and their interest is just to support the interests of the government of the day.”

Conceding that despite such realisations, such mentality still has not changed in Indonesia with the same leadership concept retaining their iron grip on the media institutions there.

“But they do have a vision of what these state broadcasters should be and I think this is what Malaysia should be doing. And good luck with that,” said Tapsell.

Dr Tapsell held an audience of about 50 for about 30 minutes before taking several questions.

He had related his experiences in research of the behavioral aspects of communities across the South East Asian region, mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia prior to the 14th general elections in May 2018.

The evident void in credible and trusted informations sources against the backdrop of distrust towards state-owned and politically linked media has been masked by various forms of fake news farming and outlets presenting themselves as credible media.

He said related several instances in detail during his talk, with insights into the need for a concerted effort to engage with the dispelling of fake news, misrepresentations and misinformation, also how infrastructure and technology such as high speed internet and content creation are shaping the social fabric of communities in the region.

The full coverage of Dr Tapsell’s talk is in the video linked below:

Full coverage of Dr Tapsell’s talk at the “Building Malaysia’s Resistance Against Fake News – Diagnosis & Antidote” forum.