Taylor's FSLM Journals
Framing of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal: Politicising by mainstream and alternative newspapers before and after change of government

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

*Su-Hie Ting, Thanaraj Murudi & Kee- Man Chuah


The study compared the framing of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal and the politicising of the issue by a mainstream and an alternative newspaper before and after the historic change of ruling party in Malaysia on 9 May 2018 general election. A quantitative content analysis of 1,357 news articles in The Star and Malaysiakini was conducted along with lexical analyses using a textual analytics software known as AntConc. The results indicated that 1MDB was more salient in Malaysiakini before the change of government but the salience of 1MDB was elevated in The Star during the new Pakatan Harapan regime. Both newspapers were oriented towards episodic framing, but in the new regime, The Star’s percentage of episodic articles increased while that of Malaysiakini decreased. The low percentage of thematic articles (less than 11%) indicate that the media framing of 1MDB could have made readers oblivious to the ramifying impact of 1MDB on Malaysia and its citizens. The Star tended to quote voices of the ruling party politicians and adopted a formal stance in reporting 1MDB-linked events whereas Malaysiakini had more variety of news sources and used a personalised stance to engage readers. Before the change of government, The Star had a balance of positive, negative and neutral 1MDB-related articles but Malaysiakini articles were inclined towards a negative valence. During the Pakatan Harapan regime, the two newspapers were similar in reporting 1MDB positively, focussing on actions to resolve the financial scandal. The textual frequency analysis revealed an obvious lack of negative adjectives, indicating an avoidance of evaluative judgements on a financial scandal involving high-ranking political figures.

Keywords: alternative media, mainstream media, framing, 1MDB