Engendering Media: Findings from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei

Given the increasingly hostile climate for media workers in Southeast Asia, New Naratif’s Media Freedom Insights publications set out to better understand their lived experiences. This report focuses on the lived experiences of eleven female newsmakers from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei to shed light on the practices, prohibitions, and pressures characterising their everyday work.

This is Publication No. 2 of Series 4 of our Media Freedom Insights publications. Read Publication No. 1 or find out more about our Media Freedom in Southeast Asia Project.

In addition to suggesting how sexual and gender-based violence manifests, this report also interrogates the challenges facing their institutions—for example, by taking into account the effects of developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic or political developments.

Further, we investigate the various ways newsmakers continue to express agency despite their challenging circumstances, with implications for (self-)censorship. Finally, in line with our aim of helping to imagine other visions for Southeast Asian newsmakers, we suggest some broad steps which can be contextually implemented.

Keywords: Media freedom, Southeast Asia, gender and sexuality, newsmaking, scholar-activism


Engendering Media:
Findings from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei
Media Freedom Insights Series 4 Publication No. 2

Publication Year 2023

Author Wai Liang Tham

Editors New Naratif’s Editorial Department

Art Director Ellena Ekarahendy

Graphic Designer Mufqi Hutomo

Illustrator Juet Li

Funding The Media Freedom in Southeast Asia Research Project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, Grant No. 2020-08984.

Publisher New Naratif is a movement for democracy, freedom of information and freedom of expression in  Southeast Asia. We aim to make Southeast Asians proud of our region, our shared culture and our  shared history. We fight for the dignity and freedom of the Southeast Asian people by building a  community of people across the region to imagine and articulate a better Southeast Asia.

Media Freedom Insights is New Naratif’s collection of reports dedicated to the  fight for media freedom in Southeast Asia. The series takes an approach that centres media workers at  the heart of the region’s media landscape. The reports housed by the series cover a range of topics, from  the challenges faced by media workers in Southeast Asia, to their aspirations for a freer media space,  to potential pathways for collective action.

This research report, excluding its illustrations, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. To view a copy  of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

All illustrations are property of their respective illustrators.

Please cite this report as Tham, Wai Liang. 2023. “Engendering Media: Findings from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.” Media Freedom Insights Series 4 Publication No. 2. New Naratif. 

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