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Astro takes down ‘damage control’ article

Mon 2014-Jul-21 @ +08 09:15:48 am
Satellite TV station Astro Awani has taken down an article, criticised by some journalists, in which a columnist called for doing away with Question & Answer sessions at press conferences, in order to carry out better “damage control”.

Taken down by Astro Awani a day after publication

Taken down by Astro Awani a day after publication

The writer, Astro Awani reporter and news anchor Izzah Izelan, called for only Bahasa Malaysia to be used at press conferences, even if attended by international press.

She also called for a “pawn” to be appointed as spokesperson — perhaps she meant a scapegoat who would appear in public and thus spare the blushes of bumbling politicians or officials.

Several journalists were aghast at the suggestions, especially the one that no Q&A sessions be held. “The whole point of us reporters attending press conferences is to ask questions,” one journalist said on Facebook. “We’re not there to just to take down what they want to say,” another journalist said.

Why journos shouldn’t be allowed to ask questions

Izza said this would:

minimize even further, any opportunity for errors, opportunity for merciless attacks by questioners, and opportunity for the speaker to look stupid in front of the entire world. No offence. Also, because every information that we know and want to announce, would have been included in the statement prepared (as I mentioned in point #2) so everything else that people would want to ask would be things that we have yet to verify (hence no point in them asking, and us attempting to answer with a “We will have to check on that”).

A couple of journalists and friends were so taken aback by the article they thought it was meant as a joke, perhaps written ironically or as satire. “I had to read it again to make sure: I think she sincerely believes what she wrote,” said one.

Izzah herself said at the end of the article: “I’m saying this … because I’m protective over my country and I don’t like it when people think they can bully us. I want the world to see us as a nation that stand together and have each others’ backs, and to catch each other when we fall.”

Her sentiments appear to be a misguided reaction to the kind of public ridicule suffered by Malaysian officials and politicians after the loss of MH370 in March.

Perhaps there’s a little too much of blind patriotism, the kind of rah-rah nationalism that’s been inculcated by the political establishment, and the cozy relationship between politicians and the editors and journalists of our politicially-owned and politically-controlled media. It’s easy to begin to think we’re all on the same side and should be looking after each other’s backs.

But that approach nullifies the whole point of journalism and of being a journalist.

We’re not on the same side. We never are and we never were. It’s not our task to make politicians or officials look good. It’s not our task to look after their image. It’s our job to find out what they’re hiding.

The day journalists start worrying about “damage control” and start advising governments how to keep the press quiet is the beginning of the end of journalism.

Astro Awani has taken down the original article, but a » Google Cache snapshot is available.

  1. Hamilton Bacon permalink
    Mon 2014-Jul-21 @ +08 10:40:59 am 10:40

    She should not be a journalist, but just go into PR instead. But even in PR, one has to know how to put out right statements.

  2. Mon 2014-Jul-21 @ +08 13:07:22 pm 13:07

    Regardless of whoever we are, we should uphold the truth and obey the law. Politicians who are incompetent should be found out, named and shamed! So that better ones will emerge! You cannot hide and incompetent surgeon or an engineer, a teacher, an accountant or even the guard! Do that and all would be going down the drain!

  3. bayi permalink
    Tue 2014-Jul-22 @ +08 22:50:06 pm 22:50

    How does it reflect on Astro to employ “jurnos” like her?

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