The media has a right not to be objective



The media has a right not to be objective
By Zan Azlee

I HAVE never been a believer of the existence of totally objective journalism or the media. In theory, I’m sure it can be explained and argued. But in reality, it’s bull faeces.

In Malaysia, that is even more impossible seeing that there are so many media organisations that are owned by political parties that make up the ruling government.

Even the government media, which isn’t owned by any political party, serves the ruling party more than the people of Malaysia and to see any positive news about the Opposition is wanting.

In fact, in this country, even if a news organisation shows the perspective from another, no matter how infrequent, they will immediately be labelled as leftist. Funny, yes.

Also, just because a media organisation reports on a particular event or issue objectively from both sides doesn’t mean that they are totally objective.

It is a choice that they make when they decide because that choice alone – in deciding what to report or not to report – clearly indicates its subjectivity.

For example, one news organisation might be more inclined to reporting about a particular political party’s general assembly and ignore another even if the coverage is objective.

You see, subjectivity cannot be avoided because people are involved and when people are involved, choices are involved, no matter how significant or insignificant.

Choices have to be made because a media organisation obviously cannot cover every single thing that happens around the world. It’s just impossible.

So people who run a news organisation are the ones who will choose the agenda of the day, even if they don’t consider it an agenda. That’s known as an editorial direction.

And when a reporter covers any single event, it is a choice they make when they decide who to interview and who not to, and what is it from the interview they include in the story.

Even the choice of words and the length of an article (or video, audio, photo, etc) already indicates subjectivity, whether the reporter realises it or not.

I’m not saying that subjectivity in journalism is a bad thing. All I’m really saying is that it definitely is impossible to avoid and total objectivity doesn’t exist.

There are two ways to go about it. The news organisation could either strive as hard as possible to lessen the degree of subjectivity, or to just acknowledge it and strive to be honest.

My personal stand to it all as a journalist is to just be as honest as I can. I realise that I am only human and I have my own bias and inclinations and the one thing I will not do is lie.

It is only normal for news organisations to have editorial leanings. There will be news organisations that are friendly to the ruling party and those who are friendly to other.

They can choose whatever editorial stand they want to have because they have a right to do so, especially in a democratic country like Malaysia.

What they don’t have a right to do is to lie and report inaccurately. That is just irresponsible and unethical. Not being objective is not a crime. But being liars should be.

[This article appeared originally at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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