Celebrating the 60th
year of the Malaysian Federation's establishment on 16th
September, Telum gathered a few Malaysian journalists to share their thoughts on the ways media and journalists can effectively navigate the challenge of maintaining unbiased reporting while also promoting a sense of national identity, especially when political issues dominate the news landscape in Malaysia.
Firdaus Azil, Broadcast Journalist, Astro AWANI
To me, it is very simple – the number one rule is that you must be neutral, not affiliating with any sides, especially with any political parties. Out of over 32 million people, some 4 or 5 million are taxpayers, not being obsessed with one single party. Media needs to respect the views and opinions of different groups and communities in Malaysia while promoting constructive dialogue and engagement amongst the public and encouraging critical thinking and media literacy.
Sharon Foo, Reporter, Sin Chew Daily
It has always been the norm in Malaysia for political issues to dominate the news platform over other matters. To maintain unbiased reporting, it's best to diversify the sources of information, ensuring that various voices, especially from both sides, are heard and reported. At the same time, extra efforts can be made to promote a sense of national identity. This can be achieved by reporting stories that focus on national harmony and unity alongside political news. In Malaysia, there are still many communities that are working hard to promote national unity by organising various events and campaigns. What the media can do here is support their efforts by providing coverage.
Teh Athira Yusof, Journalist, The Star
Malaysian journalists can navigate the challenges of maintaining unbiased reporting while promoting a sense of national identity by maintaining professional ethics and journalistic integrity. The local media is responsible for providing balanced, informative and accurate coverage of political issues without being biased towards any political ideology or party. Journalists should highlight the common values and interests that unite the nation, such as cultural diversity, economic progress, and social harmony. In their role as the fourth estate, the media must also be vigilant against any attempts to divide society along ethnic and religious lines or to spread fake news and misinformation that can lead to social unrest.
Muqri Aziz, Reporter / Anchor, TVS
In the realm of Malaysian journalism, the struggle to balance impartial reporting with fostering a national identity amidst a politically charged news scene is undeniably human. Journalists grapple with the same ethical dilemmas we encounter in our daily lives. For them, integrity is paramount, mirroring our commitment to honesty in personal interactions. They strive to provide objective coverage, much like we aim for truthful conversations with friends. Simultaneously, nurturing a sense of national identity equates to celebrating their own cultural roots, akin to sharing stories of our family heritage. Moreover, journalists act as educators, teaching media literacy to help citizens distinguish fact from fiction—just as we help friends acquire essential life skills. Ultimately, Malaysian journalists are like us all, confronting the human challenge of preserving honesty while embracing their cultural identity within a politically charged landscape. It's a testament to their dedication to both truth and unity.
Nurul Suhaidi, Journalist, The Malaysian Reserve
Being a journalist, we are constantly being pushed to the edge of presenting the truth. Staying neutral can be tricky. Not only that but with a strong personal identity, our bias may influence the way we report, which shall be passed down to readers. When it comes to our unprecedented political landscape, stories can easily stir national unity. Therefore, we need to always stick to facts. Journalists should avoid sensationalising current racial or political tension that may negatively evoke the emotions of diverse Malaysians. Seek out opinions, but don’t forget the perspectives from various communities so we get a comprehensive picture that challenges our bias. Constant self-reflection and regulation are needed to build a narrative based on empathy.