Canons of Journalism – the forgotten and unlamented Malaysian version
By Gobind Rudra
In the late 1970s, when Malaysian journalism managed occasionally to be an arm’s-length partner of the Malaysian establishment (and, unlike today, not openly romping in bed with it), there was an earnest bunch of editors who got together and conjured up the Canons of Journalism.
I didn’t subscribe to it then, and I certainly will not subscribe to it today although, to be fair, parts of it are excellent, as the actress said to the bishop.
The Canons are reflective of the mood of the times, its high-minded tone and pomposity the result of much sucking on one’s pipe and of course, then as now, sucking up to the powers-that-be. It remains very much a pipe dream if its creators had hoped to see journalists clutching it to their hearts and reciting it while brushing their teeth every morning.
Honest working journalists hooted in derision and carried on. The others merely carried on, in sublime ignorance.
Here is the code for what it’s worth. (Not much, to be honest).
The pompous Malaysian Canons of Journalism
as dreamt up by card-carrying members of the
establishment and other fellow travellers
It is remarkable that the Press is regarded as an object “It” and not a body of journalists. Not unremarkably the body of journalists, lacking antibodies, rebuffed “It” as a cancerous virus.
It is also remarkable that, after two Whereases in testament to pompous beginnings, the document trails off inconclusively at the end. No stirring final paragraph beginning with “Now therefore do we…” or some such construct? No stirring final paragraph attesting to the drafters’ pledge of honour? Not even so much as a simper?
Bluff and bluster, you might say. Don’t panic.
The main culprits have since passed on and I never managed to ask what they intended. Perhaps they did mean it to be inconclusive. I should like to think so, in remembrance of their other more honest endeavours.
By way of contrast, here is
Gobind Rudra was once a newspaper editor