On Objective Journalism: Zan Azlee’s Say

July 30, 2010


Objective Journalism is so yesterday!

by Zan Azlee

We always complain in Malaysia that journalism is never objective. Apparently, the government keeps a tight rein on the information that goes out to the public.

So all the news outlets (or shall I say the mainstream news outlets?) have a slant towards the ruling party, especially when it comes to political news. I, for one, used to complain all the time. I felt that, as a profession, journalism wasn’t going to develop, and neither would Malaysia as a nation because of it.

Even in the lectures that I give, I would constantly harp on about the importance of being objective as journalists. Give both sides of the story and let the people decide. I felt that there was no place for personal opinions and bias when it came to reporting the news. Leave that to the public relations practitioners!

But I think I’ve slowly come around, especially now with the Internet and mobile media being the go-to media. If you think about it, the value of journalism is fast dropping. If you’re in the profession, think about all those bloggers and amateur video makers.

They’re stealing your profession away from you because the technology is making it so accessible for them to do so. And they can do it well, too!

So if you think that you’re a pretty decent reporter, you may just find out very fast that your skill is no longer worth that much with these people around.

Look at the major news networks such as CNN and BBC. They are all now relying on citizen journalists and locals to provide them with the news. Why spend so much money sending a professional correspondent to some faraway country anymore?

Journalism needs to evolve to create new value

So, I think journalism needs to evolve to create new value. Maybe even go the way of being more artistic and expressionistic. Artists used to be highly prized by the community because they could paint portraits and replicate images.

Then the camera was invented and all the artists around the world found that they could not make a living anymore. But they evolved and found out that they could be even more valuable by putting more of themselves into their artwork.

Therefore, journalists should be more like artists. Be creative and insert some feelings into those stories, and leave the objective and boring reporting to the amateurs.

In this Information Age, everyone has access to all kinds of information and, well, objective news is becoming so abundant.So spice it up a bit. Be a little biased (I think creative is a better word!) and put some of your thoughts and opinions into those stories.

Huffington Post, Slate.com, Jay ‘Big Jaw’ Leno, Jon Stewart et.al

There’s so much evidence that this is what the journalism profession needs to ensure that they continue to be valid. Just look at news sites such as The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Their style of journalism is an evolved one and is clearly successful.

In fact, many people these days (myself included) don’t even go to the news media for their dose of information. They actually refer to comedians!That’s why comedy talk shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or sites like The Onion are so popular.

Putting emotions and passion into news stories isn’t wrong or unethical in my opinion now. Just make sure that you don’t hide the facts.So I guess that means the Malaysian mainstream news media has clearly been ahead of their time. They can definitely be successful in this new age of journalism.

It’s just ridiculous that they (msm) continue to insist (or pretend) that the journalism they practise is objective.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

One thought on “On Objective Journalism: Zan Azlee’s Say

  1. Here is a short write-up on Huffington Post:

    The Huffington Post, also referred to as HuffPo or HuffPost,is a liberal/progressive American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy, and has news, blogs, and original content.

    The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and alternative to conservative news websites like the Drudge Report.

    You should read HuffPost and Drudge Report to have a balanced perspective on American politics, etc.—Din Merican

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