KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 (Bernama) — Accuracy must always be the guiding light of the true journalist although the Internet offers incredible opportunities for communication and information-sharing, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said while the Internet made it easier than ever to get a story out first, it also made it easier than ever for the readers to know of a journalist who did not get it right.
“It allows them to rapidly check facts, analyse claims and decide for themselves about the truth of the matter.
“And once your readers decide that your reporting is not accurate and cannot be trusted, you will find that they very quickly cease to be your readers at all,” he said at the National Press Club (NPC)-Naza Awards 2011 here Monday night.
Also present were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, former NPC president Datuk Ahiruddin Atan, newly-elected NPC president Mokhtar Hussein, who is also Bernama General News Service (GNS) News Editor and Joint Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Naza Group of Companies, SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin.
Najib said complaints about media accuracy were nothing new but developments in technology meant that the balance between getting it first and getting it right, a tension that has long existed in journalism, was increasingly shifting towards speed over veracity.
He said in the past, the logistics of newspaper production and distribution gave reporters time to think carefully and be sure of their arguments before putting pen to paper.
“Today, with millions of Malaysians using Twitter, it is possible for news to spread from Perlis to Pontian in little more time than it takes to type 140 characters into an iPhone or a BlackBerry.
“And in age where truth is defined by the latest edits to Wikipedia, an inaccurate story can rapidly take root, its influence living on in the darker corners of cyberspace long after the facts have come to light,” he said.
Najib said the world’s media could learn some lessons from Malaysia’s journalists who were different from them as the Malaysian media was more sensitive and considerate.
“You publish news that matter, not gossip about celebrity sex scandals. You understand how to uncover a story through hard-nosed journalistic endeavour rather than by rooting through dustbins and tapping private telephone calls.
“And while you’re never afraid to criticise where criticism is deserved, you don’t abuse your position to launch personal vendettas against those with whom you disagree,” he said.
Najib said when he travelled overseas and spoke to foreign audiences, he often told them about how Malaysia had been so successful because of its diversity rather than in spite of it, and for that much credit must go to the media.
“Your ability to cover sensitive issues in a careful and balanced way shows a huge degree of social responsibility and is a tribute to your professionalism.
“You bring the colour and life of this country to the people of Malaysia, you ensure that everyone understands the issues that matter, and we are here tonight to recognise that,” he said.
Source : Bernama