Thursday, September 27, 2007

Role of the media

Got this article from Kak MM's Blog. She written an article in The Star

Be sympathetic, don’t speculate

Musings
By MARINA MAHATHIR

One of the results of media sensationalism is that it creates and perpetuates certain myths resulting in certain responses. In the case Nurin Jazlin Jazimin one of the main ones is that somehow the parents are responsible for her death by being negligent. The response to that is to say that they can be charged under the law.

It’s often said that rape victims suffer twice, once during the actual trauma of the act and again when the media reports on it.

Salacious bits about the crime are repeated endlessly, gossip is flagged and when the case goes to court, curiosity about the victim sometimes exceeds that of the perpetrator.


Show understanding: It was not necessary to say Jazimin and his wife Norazain Bistaman can be charged as they had just buried their child. The statement only seems to serve public relations purposes.
Worse still when the victim is killed. One only needs to remember Canny Ong to know how true this is.

This seems to be true again in the murder of little Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. Initially her disappearance receives some mention but as the days go by, little alarm is raised.

Then 28 days pass by and things start to heat up. A body is discovered and the frenzy begins.

I have to wonder about media ethics. If a child is sexually abused and killed, does it really matter how? Is there really a need to report the more abhorrent details of her suffering?

Is there really a need to print photos of the dead child, even if the initial intention was to find out her identity? Don’t little children deserve some respect too?

Then what is the need to raise speculation about what happened and why? These are not things we will know for sure until the killer is found and caught. So why speculate?

Why not concentrate energies firstly on finding the killer and secondly on ensuring that no other child will ever suffer the same fate?

What use is it to spend time speculating on the possible reasons why this happened when each and every case may be different?

I feel sorry for the parents. Bad enough that they had to face that long agony of searching for their child and then its terrible conclusion without having to also face each day screaming headlines about things that are untrue.

It only illustrates the way the Internet and blogs have become so essential because it allows their side of the story to be heard when there is no other way.

What is the result of the media sensationalism? It creates and perpetuates certain myths resulting in certain responses.

One of the main ones is that somehow the parents are responsible for the death of their child by being negligent.

The response to that is to say that they can be charged under the law.

Firstly, whether they are or not are debatable and cannot be ascertained without proper investigation. That investigation does not need to be done immediately because it is not urgent.

Secondly, even if they can be charged under some law, is it necessary to bring it up now when they’ve only just buried their child?

When leaders are expected to have some wisdom, one has to wonder what possessed some of ours to immediately start talking as if the guilty ones are the parents. Is there not a killer still at large?

Would not issuing a statement of sympathy and condolence first be the right thing to do as well as a strong commitment to find the killer? If nothing else, statements such as these serve public relations purposes.

In countries like Japan, public officials sometimes issue apologies for failing the public. Here, they turn on the victims and make them feel like criminals.

What if in the meantime another child disappears? Do the parents immediately get arrested?

What has happened to our priorities that they can be turned so upside down?

How is it that a Government that issues ‘caring’ budgets can be so cavalier in its treatment of ordinary citizens, citizens that it has in fact failed?

If I were to call myself a leader, firstly I would visit the parents and extend my sympathies. I would have attended the funeral.

Then I would say exactly what I would do to find the killer and make our streets safe for citizens, especially our children.

I would say that that’s my responsibility and promise to the nation, not anyone else’s.

Then I would take action. A campaign to tell parents how to talk to their kids about safety would be the first thing.

Then there would be signs in public places asking people to look out for anything odd involving children, and to report those immediately.

Meanwhile the police will not rest until they catch the killer.

But I would also warn the public not to take the law into their own hands, no matter how angry they get with possible suspects.

The law must be seen to work.

Leaving it to the public may result in vigilantism. What if they get the wrong person?

Two wrongs do not make a right.

There have been too many Nurin Jazlins. People are fearful for their kids. It wouldn’t hurt for our leaders to be more sensitive to that.

8 comments:

U.Lee said...

Hi Nightwing, re your article by MM, she is absolutely correct. To me, the media behaving like sharks on a feeding frenzy.
But then how else do they sell papers? No readers, no sale, no advertisments, no good profit margins.
But the media's total focused view on their bottom line have totally depleted their human decency as well 'one is not guilty till proven guilty' which in their case is otherwise.
It has happened here too, but because of our freedom of the press, the media in turn will get cruxified.
I always wonder what happens if the Editors, the owners, the publishers themselves experience such a fate as having a daughter murdered or their wife raped. Will the editors or media publishers 'sell' the incriminating news before trial case, take no prisoners, so to speak? How would they feel if she is their daughter?
To me personally, the media and their news is all about profits, nothing else. Look at how CNN sell their news, like a Hollywood incoming new movie. How they sensationalise their news.
I hardly read the papers and have stopped watching CNN.
Have a nice day, Nightwing, UL.

J.T. said...

"What is the result of the media sensationalism? It creates and perpetuates certain myths resulting in certain responses."

This goes back to my point about why I dislike the way news is dispensed these days. To those who need to see profits, they need to sell. What sells most of the time? Sensationalism. It is no different when it comes to governments too. They are selling themselves (so that they will be voted in again and again). sigh ...

Michelle said...

Love your views. I agree that the press loves to create dramas and make the news more sensation. Though I did not really follow Nuri's story, I had read a vague reading about it on Singapore's newspaper online. It is really sad. I totally agree the public should stop pointing fingers at the parents... You are right!!!!!!! I totally standby your views.

Nightwing said...

Hello Uncle Lee,

Agree with u,there is no sense of Empathy from the people of the media.

Sigh...Any way...like i mentioned in ur blog, at least some where out there Mother nature is doing its thing. U can always have that and for us the pictures to look at and imagine it...:)

U have a great weekend ahead Uncle Lee.

Nightwing said...

Hi JT, no arguments from me. Really hope the next GE will be a turning point. Hope the voters will know what is important and vote accordingly.

Cause i think oil price will go up again after the elections. There will not dare raise it now or have the election after April next year.

You have a great weekend ahead. Cheers.

Nightwing said...

Helo Michelle,

Ya, the media should stop pointing fingers on the parents. Lossing the child is already a life time punishment....it may have been a lapse of judgement or something else...but they will live with it for the rest of their lives.

U take care and have a great weekend with your boys...:)

Puteri said...

Pity the young victim. These kinds of crimes seem to be on the increase in Malaysia, and so far have not heard any positive actions taken by those who enforce the law.

How many more young victims murdered like this would it take for some serious action to be taken? I am not holding my breath.

Nightwing said...

Ya Puteri, pity the young kids. Just yesterday in Bintulu, one kid was held hostage for nearly an hour by his uncle and got 3 of his fingers severed. The police shot dead the uncle...Sigh...