Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Post-Dark Period: A New NST in New Malaysia

KL, 20 Feb: If this were the dark days of the old NST under A. Kadir Jasin, I believe Transport Minister Anthony Loke would have been roasted for his press secretary's terrible faux pas. Even the old NST under Dollah Kok Lanas (RIP) would have eaten Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo for breakfast for even entertaining Loke and his press sec. Fortunately for them, the New NST is nowhere near as brutal as the Old. 
But credit where it's due. At the very least, the NST has the guts to stand up to the press secretary and defend its colleagues at RTM and the integrity of the media. It's a good start.

A tweet does not tell the whole story. Pls read full editorial below

NST Leader: It is what the press says 
IF we want vibrant journalism — and we believe that New Malaysia demands it — there must be a free press.
By vibrant journalism we mean initiating conversations on issues that affect the people. And if in the process of doing so we have to hold people in positions accountable, we must.
Attacks and threats on the press such as the one directed at Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) by the Transport Ministry would only turn serious reporting into sissy journalism. So will the demand for standard operating procedures (SOP) from the press.
We perfectly understand that press secretaries have key performance indicators that may compel them to get every piece of speech and media statement reported or televised. We understand, too, that not all press secretaries end up doing this, but some politicians may compel them so.
Let’s be very blunt: neither the minister nor the press secretary should compel the press to report an event. Because, that is as good as running the news business. And the government has no business running media entities.
To those who demand coverage, we pass on the words of the United States Supreme Court in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States: the press is there to serve the governed, not the governors.
The New Straits Times may have had a dark period in the past, but we are making a conscious effort to bring back vibrant journalism that our newspaper was known for once.
We are a newspaper that is 174 years old, and in that long history, we had a good stretch of vibrant journalism.
During our heyday, we decided what is and is not news. Now, we pledge to do this again. It must be said that our return to vibrant journalism coincided with the birth of New Malaysia.
Like all Malaysians, we at the New Straits Times rejoiced the birth of New Malaysia because we saw in it the promise of a free press. It will be a mistake to allow the promise to fade away.
The 21st-century readers are discerning ones who demand facts and analyses of matters that concern them. They need an outsider’s view. Or a critique, if you like. A free press makes this possible.
Because with free press, we can write without fear or favour. We can decide what is news and what is not. And how and when to gather it. We know a news item when we see one.
Those who are not in the business of news should not pretend to define it for us. We do, however, recognise freedom comes with responsibility.
News media entities — print and digital — must accept this responsibility.
As a first step in being responsible media entities, we must be transparent about who own us. We cannot say that we will report without fear or favour if we hide our shareholders behind a veil.
Responsibility requires a lifting of the veil. Only then our readers can judge if we are a fair press.
And in the interest of our readers, too, each media organisation must make public its Press Charter by which we pledge to adhere to the standards of a free and fair press.
Again, the readers will be the judge.
Freedom must perforce come with responsibility.  ENDS

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