Thursday, 6 April 2017

DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION - Sensationalism ought to be tackled


MANY a times this column discussed the impacts of speculation on business operations and the livelihood of those working within these businesses.
The discussion revolved around half-baked truths and speculation causing the unnecessary apprehension and demotivation of stakeholders, leading to reduced productivity and market uncertainty.
This article focuses on truths, and how we move forward based on them.
In a time where social media is often an epicentre of information, the wiggle room afforded to those that relay information is getting smaller.
Most of the time spreading good news is difficult enough. Bad news is amplified, fingers are pointed and the blame and shame game starts, and small issues often dominate more important ones.
Especially for those who make a living out of the dissemination of information, the barriers of garnering audience attention have tumbled through the advent of technology. Nevertheless, aesier dissemination has also created the need to procure more effective ways to compete with such massive flows of content.
The free market of ideas and information undeniably has its advantages, especially when the public draws out multiple angles to a particular issue. The diversity of options, ideas and angles allows the public to judge the pros and cons of policy, forecast positive and negative outlooks and consequently make informed and educated decisions to safeguard their best interests.
However, when the competition for attention is intense, this may force information bearers to utilise "sensationalist" tactics.
Sensationalism often depicts the use of excitement at the expense of accuracy. Of course, the legal standards for false reporting are clear. However, there are no legal standards for using sentiment to drive readership hence this is where the issue begins. It is common to see truth used to solely to invoke anger and negative perceptions, as it is easier to gain attention through destruction, rather than construction.
While being creative in curating content is highly encouraged, one must be mindful of the impacts on such creativity.
In order to encourage social progress, it is important that the public at large be allowed to focus on their own social upward mobility.
For example, if someone works as an automotive engineer, he or she would be most productive when full focus is given to the daily technical problems at hand.
Imagine if a looming retrenchment was thrown  into the foray. Focus now shifts from the impending job related issues towards basic ricebowl matter.
Having said this, it is important to be responsible for the information thrown, either professionally or at a personal level. While construction criticism are encourage for social progress, sensationalism is slowly becoming a popular method that must be tackled.
Being cynical is often satisfying. However, we must not show strength through the weaknesses of others. It simply creates more cynicism, and hampers any fair grounds for meaningful dialogue and discussion.
The focus shift exemplified above is not just disruptive when discussing bread and butter issues. It affects society at all levels, from those going to and from work and worrying about the livelihood of the nation.
Anybody from my generation will remember  Jack Niclolas's infamous line, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth" from the film A few Good Men.
The thing is, we all want the truth. We just need to ensure society benefits from it.
The writer is chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.

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