Star chops Marina’s column again
Marina Mahathir fears her column in The Star may be stopped. For the second time this month, the paper rejected an article for her column. People at the Star have told me they’ve long been under pressure to stop her column entirely, but editors have managed to resist. Instead, editors have asked her to “tone down” her remarks, or have edited them by trimming portions.
Tone down? Marina’s remarks are sometimes so mild and indirect the general reader might not even realise she had made a criticism. Like the general reader, the numskull in power sometimes doesn’t understand either, but their handlers and friends point it out to them. There’s nothing like a petty little humbug being told he’s less than superhuman, let alone to be told by another member of the ruling class.
There’s also an election to be won. Petty little humbugs want to stay on the gravy train. So they do what petty little humbugs always do: they bully. The Star is hardly a little runt any more, but editors and management have a licence and a stock market listing to protect, a couple of thousand jobs to keep, or at the very least their own, and all the perks, the access to power, and the influence (and sometimes projects) that goes with it.
So when push comes to shove, it’s time for You Help Me, I Hep’choo. The guy with the bigger clout wins. The littler guy who wants to be published gets chopped.
When opposition party politicians and their rabid supporters then scream in a self-righteous frenzy that editors are craven cowards, it’s time to ask the simple question: Are you buggers any different? Don’t you buggers also censor and “tone down” stuff within your own party organs? So bugger off.
Here’s some bits of what Marina wrote today.
My editors at The Star did politely ask me to tone down my column. They even bought me tea to tell me this. They explained the type of nasty pressures they face over many articles, pressure from people who seem to be hyper-paranoid over every little bit of news that might be construed as anti-government, anti-Islam, anti-everythingtheystandfor. I can sympathise with my editors. It can’t be fun being constantly shouted at on the phone or having to attend ‘briefings’ where they are told exactly what they can or cannot write, no argument.
… I listened to two Burmese journalists talking about media freedom in their country … for years they had to deal with the military censors who insisted on seeing their articles BEFORE and AFTER publication. They had to find ways to creatively get their message across either through writing ‘between the lines’, using codewords or writing about foreign news which somehow had some relevance to Burma though obliquely.
… the temptation to self-censor was always there…this one young man decided he would not. “My job,” he said, “is to write. The censors’ job is to censor. I don’t censor myself because that’s not my job.”
… I don’t ‘tone down’ largely because I don’t know how to. But also because it’s not my job
IN FULL: My Record-Breaking Run Continues…