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Pixman’s assault: what really happened?

Wed 2014-Sep-3 @ +08 08:30:43 am

Family members tell of hounding by NST, local media

From a Facebook posting by a family member of the MH17 passengers:
Singling NST though for a moment, do you know repeatedly they have approached many family members (including a young female family members) over the last 1 month or so, to talk about gruesome things such as asking for confirmation on dead infants pics posted online, conditions of body, have they viewed the body parts/remains and the classic ‘how do you feel about this?’ Maybe you should ask Aliza Shah from NST about this. She even mentioned that the bosses were urging her to continuously ask about all this. But, NST is not the only one- other local media were continuously bugging them with downright harrowing and traumatic questions even when they were told not to disturb any family members.

Before you comment on being uncivilized, ask yourself how come the international press were gracious enough to actually listen and not ask stupid questions, but not the local ? Where’s their ethics and professionalism ?
» The posting at Facebook
Updated at 09:30 Wed 3 Sep

Rights and wrong
The press at bay

  • Everyone has a right to privacy
  • Everyone has a right to ask to be left alone
  • We have a right to report on matters of public interest
  • We have certain rights to report on some public matters
  • We only have the privilege to report on other matters
  • ‘Public interest’ does not mean simply anything that the public are interested in
  • We do not have a right to intrude into other people’s lives
  • The public’s interest in gossip and other people’s lives does not over-ride anyone’s rights to privacy
  • The public might expect us to cover everything: this does not give us the right to do so
  • Death and grief, like birthdays, weddings, and other personal matters, are private
  • Our desire for a story, our need to meet deadlines, or our need to please our editor, does not give us the right to trample upon other people’s rights and other people’s lives.
  • We have a right to tell the truth
  • We do not have the right to lie

What actually happened at Nirvana funeral parlour in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, when a punch was thrown at a press photographer? Three journalist groups have come out in support of the NST photographer, with the press photographers’ association demanding vengeance. But in standing up for their fellow journalist they ignored a basic factor: the truth, and a full story.

The press photographers’ association called for swift police action against the family member of an MH17 passenger who punched the photographer; an activist group of mainly online journalists, centred on Malaysiakini, condemned the attack and asked the public to show appreciation of the difficulties faced by journalists on the job; the National Union of Journalists offered legal aid to the NST photographer. Even the inspector-general of police chimed in, urging the public to show tolerance for the press on duty.

Photos of the NST photographer’s bloodied face were posted at the Friends of Barisan Nasional page on Facebook.

But why was the press at Nirvana? Had they been invited? Did they ignore family requests for privacy? Did the press ignore a government request to respect the families’ privacy? Why did the family member suddenly attack a photographer? Why this one out of so many press people at the funeral? Why was there trouble in Nirvana?

Yesterday evening the family member concerned was reported in the Star to have said that the family had requested several times that the press not take photos.

Several reporters discussing the matter on Facebook in the afternoon had been told that family members had been heard calling out “No Press, No Photographs”. One reporter said the family had tried to keep the door closed to the press, but everyone had barged in anyway. The Star reported the family as saying they had requested privacy, but were surprised that MAS and the Nirvana funeral parlour had released funeral details to the press, giving the press the impression they were invited.

There are conflicting accounts of whether the photographer was punched once, or twice; two photographers were said to have been involved; one reporter said the NST photographer had been seen smiling and posing with his damaged camera after being attacked; while he was doing so the family member came at him again, and was captured on video.

Something doesn’t add up.

Violence against the press must surely be condemned. Violence against journalists doing their duty cannot be condoned. But did the press invite trouble with their arrogance and insensitivity yesterday?

Nagging questions remain:

  • was the occasion a private one?
  • did the press ignore the family’s privacy and barge in unasked?
  • were the mass of photographers and reporters, with their cameras, lights and flashguns, being insensitive, intrusive and uncaring about private grief?
  • do editors tell their staff to get the story, no matter what, and keep one eye closed?
  • did the media wilfully ignore a government request on Monday to respect the families’ privacy?
  • do editors and media houses uphold ethical values on the job, or ignore them as being inconvenient and getting in the way of the story?
  • do Malaysian mainstream media rely on the power of the pack to get away with bullying the public, knowing they can get backing from the police and other authorities?

The three journalists’ groups instinctively fell back into self-defence mode yesterday, claiming the defence of victimhood.

On Facebook, photographers were trying to whip up sympathy for the photographer, but also aggressively condemning the family for arrogance. Vengeance was being sought. News reports on the incident (including Malaysiakini’s) mostly sided the photographers and did not explain how the attack came about.

It explains why the general public are wary of the press: The press always has the final word, so it seems.

Yesterday, that seemed to be the case.

Pack self-preservation and mutual protection was on display, and the public be damned.

One Comment
  1. Shadaan permalink
    Thu 2014-Sep-11 @ +08 01:33:20 am 01:33

    Some families prefer to keep their grief private, and others want to share their experience with the larger community. We honor their wishes. But the downing of the MH plane is an international event and grief will have to be reported to remind those who are guilty for this crime and keep reminding the world that a crime was committed less they forget. Punching the photographer is also a crime. I do understand that you re griefing but you have no right to comment a crime by punching the photographer.

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