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‘Majority of Malaysians cannot tell rumours from journalism’ – claims Edelman

–Nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s population are struggling to distinguish between rumours and legitimate journalism as many turn away from national news outlets, a report by Edelman has said.

As voters prepare to hit polling stations for the 14th general election, Edelman’s Trust Barometer report has claimed more people have become disillusioned with Malaysia’s mainstream media, and are increasingly turning to social feeds to get their news fix.

According to the report, ‘earning trust’ for media owners has become even more challenging due to the fact that more than 45 percent of Malaysians admit to being disengaged with major news organisations as their prime source of information.

In addition, in the advent of fake news, the report said 63 per cent of Malaysians admitted to not being able to distinguish between rumours and good journalism.

Meanwhile, more than 70 per cent said they worried about fake news’ negative impact as the government and regulators consider tightening the laws around it. However, some have criticised the moves by Malaysia’s current Prime Minister Najib Razak as being akin to US President Donald Trump’s attempts to silence political opponents and liberal news outlets using the denunciation of ‘fake news’.

Written by Edelman Malaysia’s managing director Mazuin Zin, the report added: “Interestingly, this media’s underperformance on key tenets of trust is citied as the core reason for an overall loss in truth and trust not just within media, but how it has been impacting loss of faith in government leadership and to an extent brand and businesses too.”

As trust in politicians and the media dwindles, the public relations agency said there was room for brands and businesses to step up and reaffirm their position of trust among consumers.

More than 75 per cent claimed that a CEO’s number one job is all about building trust and not just profits, with 71 per cent arguing that business leaders shouldn’t wait for government, but should instead lead the change.

“As the definition of how Malaysians see ‘media’ undergoes a change, the time has come for every company to transform into a media company. Invariably, shifting rules of engagement from pure business as usual PR tactics, to informing and engaging Malaysians on a continuous basis, leveraging on the key assets of voices of authority, journalists, experts and amplifiers in order to shape truth,” the report concluded.

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