Commentary Local

It’s just an editorial mishap

the star

Shahrum Sayuthi
Written by Shahrum Sayuthi

June 1 2017

THE uproar over The Star’s front page on May 27 was understandable.

It featured a photograph and caption of Muslims performing taraweh prayers to mark the first day of Ramadan under the bold headline ‘Malaysian Terrorist Leader’.

In this age of social media, anger caused by such sentiment inducing publication could spread faster than wildfire.

The matter was discussed extensively and as a result, there were many who even believed that the offending newspaper’s front page was deliberately done so with the intention of insulting Muslims and their religion.

The Star, which is known among the media circle for its habit of being reluctant to admit editorial mistakes was, however, quick to do otherwise in this case.

It immediately issued a public apology for what it termed as an “error of judgment”, saying on hindsight, it should have been more sensitive to the feelings of its Muslim readers.

It then suspended two of its top editors, Datuk Leanne Goh Lee Yen who is the editor-in-chief and executive editor Dorairaj Nadason pending a domestic inquiry.

The authorities on their part had issued The Star with a show cause letter on why actions should not be taken against them over the incident.

That, however, did not cool off the anger of many Muslims, especially those who insisted that the newspaper had intentionally insulted Muslims.

Such a notion may seems ridiculous but there were indeed many who thought so.

They wanted The Star to be heavily sanctioned such as by having its publication license suspended or even being permanently closed down for good.

However, their contention that the newspaper had intentionally insulted Islam would be hard to swallow for those who think logically of the matter.

Why would the editors of The Star deliberately want to get themselves in trouble the way they are now?

Those familiar with the workings of a news room should know that there are normally two editorial meetings in a single day to decide the contents of a newspaper.

The first, held in the morning is to discuss what stories are to be pursued for the day and the other one, usually held in late afternoon is to decide which stories are to be published and where they are to be placed in the newspapers.

These meetings are attended by all the section head editors of the newspaper and normally chaired by the highest ranking among them.

It is hard to imagine that the editors involved in deciding The Star’s publication on May 27 sitting there in those meetings and conspiring to insult Muslims.

“Let’s insult the Muslims today. Just for the fun of it, “ says Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai as he started the editorial meeting. That’s just impossible, isn’t it?

The Star, being the most read English newspaper in the country could not be so successful with its editors being as stupid and suicidal as that.

No matter how one is to place it, what happened to The Star’s frontage on May 27 should only logically seen as a pure mistake or at worse grossly negligent editorial oversight.

Sensational though it seems, charges of The Star conspiring to demean Muslims and their religion by publishing an ill thought and badly laid out front page is simply too outlandish a notion.

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Shahrum Sayuthi

Shahrum Sayuthi