One thing seems to have remained exactly the same in the wake of the euphoria that followed the historic elections of May 9: the media’s servility.
A certain English daily espouses this rather perfectly, indeed it thrives on it. Villains which it once condemned are suddenly heroes on its front pages. Heroes which it once flattered are now relegated to some obituary-sized column, that is, if the column has not already been taken up by a portrait of an old man who left behind one wife, six children, four in-laws and a dozen grandchildren.
Turning around the way this particular paper has would make perfect business sense. It may not even be an issue to a readership long subjected to a skewed understanding about the role of the press.
But it gives a bad image to journalists, the well-meaning journalists who do not want their jobs to be like the oldest profession in the world.
One report by a foreign news agency describes the once pro-Barisan Nasional media’s about-turn “a decades-old impulse to back the government of the day” in making sure of their own survival than in balanced reporting.
How true. The print media and some other electronic media are still obsessed with playing the role of a diary of ruling politicians, now from among Pakatan Harapan. Their speeches are headline material, even if some of them have no news value or are a repeat of the hundreds of statements churned out over the years but which did not make it to these media.
It is in this sad state of journalism that we have decided to reiterate our commitment to good journalism, the missing dimension from our self-styled “mainstream” media.
In the weeks leading to the polls, some opposition leaders quietly complained to our journalists as to why we were giving space for “the other side to whack us”. At the same time, some Barisan Nasional leaders were angered that our coverage of the campaign was too much about “the other side whacking us”. We didn’t take it lying idle. We merely said, “We rest our case”.
Millions of our readers who have followed us since the start of the general election campaign can testify to our objectivity, even neutrality.
We carried commentaries from both sides, and will continue to do so. We informed the public, and will continue to do so. We confused the politicians, and we secretly hope to continue this too.
This is our assurance to our readers. We are free and independent. Even if some think that the new regime should be allowed a longer honeymoon.
Abdar Rahman Koya is the editor-in-chief of FMT.