Journalism Malaysian style

I just read that the Malaysian Press “boycotted” most of the proceedings at the House of Parliament recently.

It’s really laughable because had it truly been a boycott why did the Star publish a picture taken by Bernama of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak?

Hello… look up the word boycott, Star editors.

Before the general elections the online newspaper The Star published a story which had no byline. Not a first time. In place of a byline, they attributed it to Bernama–the official news agency for the ruling government.

So when I read this story which paints former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim as a “no-hope” candidate especially during their election season, I was struck, not by how one-sided the mainstream media is, but also how worthless their work is.

And how about this story about Badawi denying he received a military intelligence report about the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu? No byline, just the words, “Bernama.” It may as well have Badawi’s signature on it.

Responsible journalist put their bylines with their stories just as they name all their sources. No one claims ownership of this piece and the Star publishes it!

Mind you it wasn’t a matter-of-fact story about a natural disaster or business piece where an official news agency could provide statistics. Rather it was about an opposition leader.

Sadly I see that a Chinese person is now a big wig “Datuk” in charge of one of those publications. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Titles can get to some people’s heads.  Titles or “pangkat” is so commonplace after all.

I’m tempted to say that if I were to elect someone for office, anyone with a Tan Seri, Tun or Datuk should be disqualified. Guilty by association, that’s why.

The quintessential thug/corrupt/mobster Mahathir and everyone in his cabinet were bestowed those worthless monikers, that’s why.

As a former journalist, I can only say that this practice of publishing a story without a byline is about as irresponsible as blatantly publishing a lie.

But this is fairly routine for this publication. No wonder Malaysia Kini and other online newspapers exists today .

Who can the person who was “wronged” in such an article seek their grievance against?

The cost of doing business especially “print journalism” in Malaysia just got a lot higher. If the publishers of the Star think they have to print everything the Ministry of Information hands them without any repercussions, they’re sadly mistaken.

It’s a foregone conclusion that their readership and subscriptions will decline especially now that there are numerous online alternatives. When a news publication loses credibility, their readers make themselves heard by not buying the product.

As an aside, the Malaysian government recently announced they are taking their PR machinery into cyberspace on blogs. If my read is correct on this, they’ll need to brush up on their “Engrish” or be the laughing stock of the blogosphere. 

They’ve finally realized blogs are not going away unless they pull the plug on the internet.

In case you think I’m a supporter of Anwar, let me say I don’t know the man. I don’t know his politics, but I dare say he has lost his title of public enemy number one to Mahathir.

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