NO TO THE LIES BY THE PAPERS. For a journalist who grew up in the so-called mainstream media (which was never called that in those days, by the way), the People's Parliament's initiative to boycott the MSM has put me in a tight spot. You see, for over two decades my bylines appeared in the pre-1987 Star, the Business Times, the NST, Malay Mail, Berita Harian. You can't get more "mainstream" than that.
Now you want me to turn my back on my bros and sis?
But then I read the lies that some editors of this day stuff into their Sunday columns and into the news that their papers publish. They condone plagiarism, use the papers to shamelessly promote their own (or their friends, wives, or friends' wives') business interests, and rewrite reporters' articles to safeguard the personal interests of their political friends and masters.
Sure, there were editors during my time who compromisd on their journalism ethics, too. But those who did never pretended that they were fighting for greater Press freedom and never declared that the Press was free in the first place. Zam, our Information Minister, for example, was a Dr Mahathir die-hard and was more effective than any of Mahathir's ministers in pushing Pas into a corner.
During the Reformasi period, the Umno-onwed papers, including in the NSTP, went after Anwar Ibrahim. But in case you forgot or didn't know, Anwar had lived by the sword. When he was in power and in Umno, he controlled the NSTP and put many of his people in the other mainstream newspapers. He died by the sword.
Me, I was not one of Anwar's men and I was not one of Mahathir's, either. I wasn't Ghafar's nor was I Musa's. And I am very glad that Abdullah Badawi (or his 4th floor goons) was not so comfortable with my style - or so that was what his so-called adviser at NST told me as soon as his "friend" had been made the Prime Minister.
So my conscience is clear. As an MSM journalist, I didn't think too much about who the political masters were. I wanted to break stories and get scoops (or at least don't get scooped). As an MSM editor, I defended my journalists who didn't give a damn who the political masters were supposed to be because all they wanted to do was become good reporters. Together, we pushed the parameters so that we'd get a little bit more freedom every day. Some of us "died" trying.
Today, I can count them with my fingers but the fact is there are still editors and journalists out there who are still trying. I write this posting in the hope that they understand why I am throwing my support behind the People's Parliament's campaign to boycott the lies by people put there in their newspapers to advance some politicians' life span.
This boycott as a timely effort to tell people that the lies by these editors and journalists must not have their support. As I see it, this boycott is also a tribute to those journalists and editors in there who are still trying, who are still pushing the parameters to get a little bit more Press freedom.
So here's to a paper-free Tuesday, for a start.
Details will be announced at a:Press Conference
at Blog House [66 Lorong Setiabestari 2, Bukit Damansara, KL]
Go to Haris Ibrahim's People's Parliament to confirm your attendance.