KUALA LUMPUR – October 11, 2016: Media studies academicians think that one of the best ways to counter media spins is for civil society form a team of fact-checkers.
However, the government must not be a part or perceived to be a part of the team.
They mooted the idea following the recent case of Gerakan politician Baljit Singh who plunged into controversy after a news portal cherry-picked his statement to depict him as being sexist.
According to Universiti Tekonologi Mara media warfare expert Shahnon Mohamed Salleh, government involvement would only ruin the team’s credibility.
“It would be interesting to see the team being formed by the public instead of the government,” Shahnon told The Mole. “That way, at least people will not perceive the team as the government’s attempt to stifle the press.
“But this does not mean that the media is untouchable and should be allowed to continue to spin half-truths,” he said, adding that the team could try and emulate independent media watchdogs in countries like the United States.
Dr Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak agreed to the suggestion because societal pressure is one of the best ways to force nefarious media outlets into behaving professionally and ethically.
For example, readers can compare between the spun news reports with the one that has been professionally reported.
This, the communication and medis studies lecturer claimed, is more effective than lodging police reports against the press.
“When people are aware that certain media outlets are spinning stories, it will eventually pressure journalists and editors to do their job professionally and ethically.”
He also condemned unethical and unprofessional journalists and editors who resort to spinning for the sake of getting higher ratings.