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Whoah! Did he say war?

Sun 2011-Nov-27 @ +08 07:43:26 am

By Gobind Rudra
Malaysia Chronicle’s eyeball-grabbing headline on Najib Tun Razak going to war in the next general election will earn journalists no credit, even though it is probably in line with conventional wisdom about Umno’s current state of mind. But that’s commentary, not reporting.

In the body of the story paraphrasing the transcript, the Chron said:

It’s WAR

Likening the election to war, Najib said Umno must bolster its strategy, logistics and equipment well before even the first shot is fired.

Did he say war? Luckily, the full transcript is available, and it says:

Q: Can the call for preparedness be taken as putting the party in a war footing to face the 13th general election?

A: Yes, if we’re to use war as an analogy, it means that before the first salvo is fired, our troops should have undergone training and preparations, in terms of the strategy and logistics, and equipment.
(My italics)

It was Bernama that likened Umno’s preparations to “going on war footing”. In answering Najib agrees. “To use your analogy”. But he didn’t say Umno is going to war.

To say it’s like going to war is not the same as to say It’s war

It’s a fine distinction. Many journalists might say “What’s the big deal? There’s no difference.” Some may complain that the result is a story or headline that is plain, not exciting. Even some editors may say that news is just a business, we sell our readers’ eyeballs to advertisers and never mind your damned principles.

Tough. Journalism is not a business, it’s not about selling news. It’s about helping people get to the truth of things.


Gobind Rudra was once a newspaper editor

© 2011. All rights reserved

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