Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Journalism At Its Worst

It's most disheartening to note that even though the information is most of the time false, most people do not even bother to check the facts.

It was exactly this moment yesterday when I saw a news report saying that some Malaysian bloggers are earning up to RM 1 million a year. Just moments ago I saw a poll set up by a prominent website inquiring public opinion on the matter. Lo and behold, the poll shows that almost 50% of the people do not actually believe in the report. Pure exaggeration.

This is the kind of exaggeration you often see in newspapers across Malaysia. English newspapers are hitherto maintaining their standard, but the same cannot be said of Chinese and Malay newspapers.

Chinese language newspaper really is a shame for the community itself. False facts coupled with exaggeration often taints the report, causing unnecessary worries as well as instilling wrong information. Now does that evokes some sense of deja vu? Does that remind you of the microwave radiation issue? What's this, marketing strategy to sell your paper?
It's most disheartening to note that even though the information is most of the time false, most people do not even bother to check the facts. The authors of some news articles simply copy and paste from the internet, which is not necessarily true, making their reports dull and uneventful-reading the same thing over and over again.

I do not know about the English or Malay language newspapers, but I can be sure that the authors penning scientific articles in most Chinese newspapers are those that do not have any scientific background. If they are scientific-literate, they should be able to distinguish or at least produce an authentic article about certain scientific issues(for example the recent incident in the US where thousands of dying birds falling from the sky) with valid scientific reasons and arguments. The problem with them is that when I read about their work, I found an uncanny similarity with those that I've read online. Nothing exciting-so why bother to purchase newspaper?
That's the case IF the authors are smart enough to get the information from trustworthy source. There are newspaper reports conveying absolute nonsense, putting the blame on the gods and underworld spirits, or labeling the event as "catastrophic" and relating it to the end of the world (I don't like to say this but they are relating the incident to 2012, which is another nonsense in itself). It's obvious that they are sourcing the information from rubbish websites, and that they really are incompetent.

Now that is where Egypt is located. Seriously Fox News? Image:
Despite knowing the problem within the journalism system in Malaysia, there aren't many people who actually complain about it. Right now, for example, I choose to read from the internet rather than spending money to encourage the sales of false information. The facts are often wrong and I would have little sympathy should the editors be sacked and penalized heavily.

They are focusing too much on monetary profits rather than their love for the job. Conveying information is the job of journalists, and they are paid for doing it correctly. A recent case happening in the UK for example; prominent Sky Sports commentators Richard Keys and Andy Gray were sacked for making sexist remarks.
Obtuse minds think alike. No question about it. Image:
Look at that. Journalists or media personalities out there, no matter how popular you are(Andy Gray is a household name in football commentary), get the whip when they utter something wrong. In Malaysia, however, there seems to be some kind of immunity granted to journalists, because whatever they say it wouldn't backfire. Unless, of course, they're aiming it at the government. The most they'll get, for example the case where the headmistress of a secondary school in Johor who uttered racist remarks, is some media attention and complains from some party. You just have to lay low to secure your job and position.
A blog, on the other hand, is a rather different concept altogether. I might be uttering nonsense here and you may discard my opinion on the ground of blasphemy and extremism. But hey, this is a personal space, unlike conventional media which are meant for the public. Moreover, unlike newspapers, you don't pay to read my blog. And unlike journalists, I am not paid to write all these stuffs. So I do not have the obligation to get my facts checked, and it's your choice to click on the annoying or otherwise fascinating URL leading to this site.


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