Tasteless journalism No 2: Utusan Malaysia
On a day when Berita Minggu was hammered for bad taste in publishing an editorial cartoon on the Japan tsunami, leading to a quick apology, Utusan Malaysia Online quietly slipped in a piece of tasteless journalism of its own later in the evening(above).
The headline is factually correct, of course. The poor woman who perished is named, according to the story, Elizabeth Wong. She’s a teacher, aged 25, living at an apartment in Damansara Perdana, outside Kuala Lumpur.
But any headline that says “Elizabeth Wong dead” is pure sensationalism, misleading, alarmist and in bad taste, for seeking to play on the name of the popular Selangor executive councillor and assembly member for Bukit Lanjan.
She’s the only Elizabeth Wong with public recognition that her name could stand on its own in a headline, without the need for a qualifying phrase.
Utusan Malaysia has been noted and criticised in the past for biased reporting and skewed commentaries, with the president of the National Union of Journalists, Hata Wahari, notably criticising the paper for fanning racial sentiments and other Barisan Nasional-owned and BN-controlled media for playing politics in their news coverage.
It now looks like headline writers, too, want to get in the act.
The story at Utusan Online is time-stamped 5:21pm — hours after Berita Harian had apologised for its cartoon. It is not likely that the BH apology went unnoticed, which prompted one Twitter question: “What is Utusan trying to do?”
But will there be sufficient public outrage to demand an apology from Utusan, as Berita Harian was quick to do yesterday for its tsunami cartoon?