Let RTM decide what its viewers want

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COMMENT | As a young reporter more than 40 years ago, I was given a journalistic mantra which I still spread when I give talks or lectures on journalism.

It’s called, “Write for your readers.” I was always reminded to write in simple language for readers to understand.

“Don’t expect the reader to have a dictionary beside him when he reads what you have written,” was the schooling we got. Practitioners call it “old-school journalism.”

The media environment may have changed with the advent of computers, news portals, and social media platforms, but the principles remain.

In the media industry, one person decided what the rest of the country should read or watch - the editor, or, in some cases, a group of them. They picked and chose what events were to be covered and how the article should be presented.

Prior to the 14th general election, in most cases, it was not the editor who decided, but his or her political bosses whose orders could not be disobeyed.

Media organisations then often acted as mouthpieces, if not propaganda machines, for the ruling party. People like Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim were demonised and their names always appeared in the negative.

A few of us pushed the envelope until we were pushed out ourselves. The “true” journalists lost their jobs; others resigned in disgust and anger but the majority suffered in silence until May 9 last year when the media scene changed.

We initially rejoiced and celebrated in welcoming “New Malaysia”. The vigour in which freedom of the press was promoted was borderless. Editors lined up to pay tribute and to kiss the hands of those whom they had previously censured.

These days, many organisations are still playing the same role – supporting the government of the day.

That is why Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) has been pulled up for “not giving airtime for the speech of the minister and the menteri besar”...

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