Youths, news and COVID-19: a media dependency study on 18-21-year-olds in Malaysia

Gomez, Lydia Edwina (2021) Youths, news and COVID-19: a media dependency study on 18-21-year-olds in Malaysia. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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Between March 17 and May 4, 2020, Malaysia announced four phases c of an unprecedented nationwide movement restriction - the Movement Control Order (MCO) - to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a consequence, civil society was confined to their homes while the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MoH) provided daily updates and hyper-localized information through the media and their own social media channels.

Given the novelty of the virus and the conditions of a partial lockdown, this study uses the Media System Dependency (MSD) approach to evaluate the relationship between Malaysia-based media systems and youths between the ages of 18-21 in informing and influencing behavioural change in a period of uncertainty. Despite widespread data indicating waning consumption of traditional news amongst those in this age group, this study finds that they were not disinterested in current affairs in the country. As digital natives, those in this age group were found to have heavy reliance on participatory social media platforms to mediate information from Malaysia- based news, government authorities, peers and international media. Dependency on Malaysia- based news was moderate yet crucial to provide hyperlocal clarity on the outbreak. However, while providing a baseline sense of security through reportage of statistics, it was not the main influencer of behavioural changes amongst youths in this age group.

Furthermore, this study presents that in a global outbreak, three consecutive layers of affective effects – augmented by participatory platforms and enforcement – lead up to change in behaviour. This change of behaviour, in turn, did not result in widespread usage of social media to communicate their opinions, revealing low rhizomatic participation amongst youths within the context of the MCO despite the clear influence of rhizomatic social media behaviour in creating awareness of COVID-19. In addition, two interdependent dimensions of agenda-setting existed between Malaysia-based news and youths in this study. Thus, I propose a new mediating participatory platform system - influenced by networked agenda setting - as an update to the MSD framework.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: media system dependency theory, agenda setting, movement control order, Covid-19, Malaysia-based news, participatory platform, rhizome, youths
Depositing User: Joseph Simpson, Lydia
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2021 06:46
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 06:46

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