© Media Watch 7 (3) 331-341, 2016
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
Theorizing Roles for Online News Media in Representation of Risks: The Case of Malaysia
SHARAFA DAUDA & NIK NORMA NIK HASAN
University Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
This paper theorizes a model for the representation of risks in online news media. Its practicability is demonstrated using Malaysian alternative online newspapers. Anxiety and uncertainty about a risk event are naturally rooted in discourse a count as discursive event because they appear on the discourse planes of politics and the media intensively and extensively. These discourses are pervasive on the Internet, which is used by over 20 million Malaysians. Furthermore, alternative newspapers flourish in online forms in Malaysia largely due to government press law inhibitions on mainstream print and broadcast media. The popularity of alternative online newspapers in Malaysia is also demonstrated by their ranking within the first three most visited web entities in the April 2015 Media Matrix rankings of Malaysian web entities. The model is used to provide presumptions on how risks can be spread or weakened. It also provides conjectures on how multiple semiotic resources in the composition, content and design of online news media like colour, gesture, image, layout, writing, etc can be used to amplify or attenuate risks from meanings that are conveyed using “tools shaped by cultural and social factors to mediate interests of members of social groups…” Thus, the model proposes a digital social amplification of risk communication model on the role of the news media in the representation of risks, and in negotiating socio-cognitive processes, behaviors and responses to risk events.
Keywords: News media, amplification, attenuation, technology, hazards
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Sharafa Dauda is currently pursuing his PhD programme in journalism at the School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He also lectures at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. His research interests include: risk communication, online and print journalism, new(s) media, media and society, semiotics and political communication and digital media literacy.
Dr. Nik Norma Nik Hasan is the serving deputy dean (Academics, Students and Alumni) and the immediate past chairperson of undergraduate programme (Journalism section) at the School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Her research interests include: media and environmental journalism, risk communication, communicating sustainability and journalism education.