Recently, people have accused me of not being objective in my journalism. In fact, I’ve had this accusation thrown to me many times over the years. But seriously, I’ve been accused of worse. Like in my college days, some people actually accused me of being a Limp Bizkit and Korn fan!
So let me set the record straight right now, here on my Astro AWANI column. I am not, I repeat NOT, an objective journalist! The only reason why I am not an objective journalist is for the fact that I do not see the need for me to be objective as a journalist.
I think that we need to get past the ‘he said this and he said that’ journalism because the public now are intelligent enough to know that full objectivity does not exist anyway.
Every soundbite or quote that a journalist chooses to include or exclude in a story is already a subjective decision. Every photograph or video footage that a journalist shoots and edits in or out of a story is already a subjective decision.
Many journalists who insist that they are objective aren’t aware that they are really just trying to portray a perception or image of objectivity.
So to me, what is important as a basic element of journalism is definitely not objectivity. What is important is honesty in the journalism field.
As it is, most of the media, whether mainstream, alternative, online, or whatever, are already biased, subjective and taking a stand in their journalism.
Most of the public realises this. And being an intelligent public, they will know how to sift through everything and make their own decisions based on the facts.
So it is essential that there be many different media outlets with many different information for the public to have access to to make their decisions.
The more choices that are available means that there are more information for the public to evaluate and base their decision-making on, hence, more well-informed decisions.
So all this information can be biased or one-sided (whichever side!), as long as there are no lies or manipulation that can deceive the public.
There is an argument that by allowing non-objective journalism to exist, there might be a risk of having biasness that would be too much of an extreme.
To this, my response is simple.
Extreme biasness in the media already exist. And if we look at it from a Malaysian point of view, the majority of this extreme biasness is so much to one side that the other side seems very neglected.
So there should be no harm in allowing for biasness in journalism to lean extremely the other way, just to bring things back in the middle.
And with that being said, I truly believe that if the media was given complete freedom (I’m also an advocate of non-censorship of the media!), a spectrum will emerge.
There will be media organisations and journalists who will gravitate to the two opposing extremes, and there will be those that take the middle ground.
And in my honest opinion, there is no sin in whichever space a journalist or media organisation chooses to be in on the spectrum.
The sin only comes when honesty in journalism is forsaken.