The online media provides the most even-handed coverage of the elections in the first week after the parliament was dissolved, according to a study. 

It gave BN only slightly more coverage than Pakatan Rakyat parties, and also uses the neutral tone most frequently. 

NONEWhen the coverage are categorised as either positive, neutral, negative, or attacking in tone, both BN and Pakatan Rakyat received roughly equal amounts of each of the for types of coverage, except that Pakatan Rakyat had slightly more of the neutral articles. 

“They are the most even-handed in their coverage of political parties and coalitions of the four media types analysed,” says thepreliminary report of the study jointly conducted by the University of Nottingham and the media watchdog NGO Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).

Of the 26 media outlets analysed in their ‘Watching the Watchdog’ study, only two are from the online press, namely Malaysiakini andThe Malaysian Insider

NONEThe other media categories being monitored are newspapers, television, and national news agencyBernama, but does not offer a breakdown of the performance of each media outlet. 

Taken as a whole however, the overall trend is still to give BN the most coverage, as well as the most favourable coverage. 

This would deprive citizens of fair and objective information about the political parties taking part in the election, the report says. 

“Newspapers and television news heavily favour BN in terms of both the quantity and quality of coverage devoted to the coalition and its parties, 

NONE“The only news sources which do not conform to the above trends are the online news portals, which give approximately equal quantities and quality of coverage to both BN and Pakatan Rakyat,” it said.

The report also found that newspapers also carry the much of the political coverage to both praise and to attack BN. 

Diversity of the 16 media outlets

This is likely due to the diversity of the 16 media outlets included in the category, including among others, New Straits Times andtheSun for the English press, Utusan Malaysia and Sinar Harian in the Malay press, Sin Chew Daily and Oriental Daily in the Chinese press, and Makkal Osai in the Tamil press. 

As for Bernama, which is under the Information Ministry, 62 percent of its political coverage is for BN. Of all its positive report, 91 percent benefit BN, whereas Pakatan Rakyat received most of its negative reports. 

The study was conducted between April 7, which is four days after the parliament dissolved, until April 15, which is five days before nomination day. 

The study will continue to run until May 7, which is two days after polling day.

~ Malaysiakini