Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Of course blog readers not necessarily opposition sympathisers

Blog readers are not stupid!!! They can think for themselves. They know who is good and bad! They don't like corrupt leaders. They like efficient people, leaders, civil workers, etc. If ever Pakatan were to lead this country, they will have to work hard as well. Malaysians are educated too you know. Read the comments made in Malaysia Today, Dr Mahathir's blog, and the others and you know they know how to make up their mind for themselves. They do not oppose for the sake of opposing.

Tuesday June 17, 2008 MYT 2:11:06 PM

Study: Blog readers not necessarily opposition sympathisers


KUALA LUMPUR: A study on the role and influence of the Internet and especially blogs found no concrete evidence that those who read blogs regularly were inclined to sympathise with opposition parties.

The study Peranan dan Pengaruh Internet dan Kewartawanan Bloggers Terhadap Pengundi Semasa Pilihan Raya Umum Malaysia 2008 (The Role and Influence of the Internet and Journalistic Bloggers on Voters during the 2008 General Election) was conducted by Prof Madya Dr Baharuddin Aziz, Dr Rahmat Ghazali and Dr Abd Rasid Abd Rahman from Universiti Teknologi Mara's Communications and Media Studies Faculty.

About 80% of respondents were aware of blogs, which were popular with the middle class and below.

"After making the cross matching, we found that there was no strong evidence that supports the notion that the Internet content had moved people to vote for the opposition," Dr Baharuddin told Bernama here recently.

He said many newspaper readers and television viewers had also switched to supporting the opposition in the March 8 polls.

The one-month study also found that banners, posters and pamphlets played a crucial role in swaying voters' sentiment for the opposition.

The study conducted on 1,100 voters in four zones -- north (28%), south (22%), east coast (19%) and central (31%) used the stratified group sampling method.

Lingam clip the catalyst

It found that issues and comments made in blogs from September 2007 were a key factor.

"It began in September 2007, with the video clip that recorded the conversation between V.K. Lingam and a senior member of the judiciary on the appointments of judges -- this was when voters started to sway towards the opposition," said Dr Baharuddin.

Respondents said they preferred blogs because they wanted something different -- 38% preferred reading blogs as the issues were discussed in a different way, as compared with the mainstream media.

"When ministers and politicians hop onto this phenomenon, it means they admit the clout of blogs and online journalism, hence exposing readers to balanced views and opinions", said Dr Baharuddin.

He said the authorities should view comments and feedback on blogs positively.

The study's field survey was made on polling day, with 57% of respondents being male and 43% female. About 60% were aged below 40 years.

Almost half of the respondents -- at 41.3% -- read blogs in the office while 31.7% did it at home, with 44% saying said they viewed blogs two or three times a day. Only 33% said they never read blogs.

When asked if blog content had swayed their choice in the general election, 55.2% said yes.

Among the issues they considered "hot" were the price hike of petrol and other consumer goods, the Lingam video clip, the judiciary and corruption.

As for the breakdown of voters' choice during the election, 48.6% of the respondents said they voted for the opposition while 41.1% chose Barisan Nasional (BN).

Almost 36% "believed a little bit" in blog content, 16.4% "trusted almost all" the content while 2.8% "believed all." Those who had "total doubt" numbered 4.9%.

Among the blogs and websites considered readers' picks were Malaysiakini, Suara Keadilan, SPR, Harakah Online, Berita Harian Online, Youtube, Utusan Malaysia Online, Malaysia Today, The Star Online and news agencies.

Future elections

Dr Baharuddin said "digital media warfare" and the preference of the younger generation should be given serious thought, particularly with the presence of 1.8 million fresh voters for the next election in 2012 or 2013.

Mobile TV and handphone networks are also expected to play a major role.

"We cannot deny that the digital divide still exists in the country, but we can no longer sweep aside the role of new media.

"During the Ijok and Machap by-elections, bloggers were already active but their impact was insignificant, unlike what happened during the 2008 general election," he said.

Barisan Nasional was at the receiving end as it failed to adequately address issues raised.

"For example, on Feb 13, newspaper front-page reports were not only on the dissolution of Parliament but also on judiciary issues," he said.

Dr Baharuddin said a weak approach did not clarify sensitive issues, causing the public to switch to reading blogs for further clarification, which ultimately had a detrimental effect on the ruling coalition. -- Bernama

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