Questions that a media council must clarify

Opinion  |  Eric Loo
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | If a media council should ever come about, it must go beyond simply providing Malaysians an outlet for their complaints and outrage against the media. It must be founded on a conviction that the state will have as little involvement as possible in the news-making process.

Self-regulation in the newsroom is the preferred way to lift journalism standards. This is assuming that our journalists - trained to think inside the box, respect authority and revere institutions - are educable on good media practices.

Which boils down to this: Will a media council have the power to foster good practices and prevent the bad from spreading in an industry that is segmented by vernacular and racial aspirations?

Language, race and religion have historically framed the Malaysian narrative, which is reflected in the media reportage. Let’s look back at the Allah controversy. The issue was politicised beyond reason and good faith.

The mainstream media rightly reported what the opposing sides said. But they failed to moderate the religious rancour. They failed to educate readers on what drove the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

They failed in their public service when they did not attempt to scrutinise the political rhetoric, nor shed light on the historico-cultural contexts of the religious diatribe.

Muslims and Christians once walked on common grounds. Islam and Christianity share as many similarities as there are differences.

Quality journalism would have researched the theological basis of the Allah controversy, given the abundant literature on the sacred roots of both religions...

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