Ethical journalism is vital in creating an informed society as is being planned for by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry in its Communications and Multimedia Blueprint, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
He said the country was now in the era of post-truth where the existence of fake news, especially in various social media platforms with huge followers, was a norm.
“What is more saddening (is that) the public who have been exposed to fake news and not based on facts, take whatever is being served to them blindly.
“They cannot differentiate between diamond and glass. The emotions of the public have superceded their sanity. We know that the authenticity of information disseminated through social media can be doubted…We know blogs, Facebook and social media portals are not bound by the ethics of the conventional media.
“If this is not curbed and controlled, the fake news phenomenon will become a threat to national security from various angles. Fake news will lead to false history, we cannot differentiate between right and wrong,” he said at the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI)-Petronas Malaysian Press Night (MPN) 2017 last night.
Najib was accompanied by his wife Rosmah Mansor at the largest gathering of the Malaysian journalism community.
Also present were Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, Joint Chairman of MPN 2017 who is also Harian Metro/Metro Ahad group editor Mustapa Omar, MPI chief executive officer Chamil Wariya, Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman Azman Ujang, Bernama Editor-in-Chief Zakaria Abdul Wahab and also editors-in-chief of most of the mainstream media organisations in the country.
The prime minister said the media had its own responsibilities to explain to the public on what facts and spreading slander were all about.
The federal government was now looking seriously into the emergence of fake news, causing the ministry to come out with a website called “sebenarnya.my” which was now accessible by all quarters to determine whether or not a particular news item that went viral was fake, he said.
However, Najib said the effort by the federal government would only be effective if media organisations work together in delivering verified and useful information through the existing various platforms, be they conventional or virtual.
“I believe that it is important for journalists to uphold the principle of verification and ethical reporting in their own reporting. They should not rush or be hasty (and) ignore the authenticity of facts in their reporting just because they want to be the first out with the news in this digital age,” he said.
The prime minister also urged professional journalists to be at the forefront in combating fake news and lies, especially so when there were now quarters from inside and outside the country out to deliberately discredit the image of Malaysia by making inaccurate statements on the current state of economy and politics.
In addition, he said journalists should also report the truth and act as the watchdog in checking the three branches of government, as well as to be the platform in disseminating various types of information that could be of help to the people in making decisions about their lives.
“The efforts to help the people in making the best decision in anything, be they for self, families, business, administration or politics, must be intensified and improved by journalists and media organisations,” said Najib.
He also said in Malaysia, the function of media as a platform to push the national agenda was very crucial.
“I believe as a successful country, the existence of independent but responsible media is an important prerequisite. Do help the government in fulfilling its duties to the country. The era of which the government knows it all is a thing of past,” he said.
A group of journalists from The Star, namely Samantha Chow, Clarissa Say, Maryam Zainol, Elroi Yee, Ian Yee and Lim May Lee emerged as the winners of the 2016 Kajai Award for their reports entitled “To catch a predator”, “Child grooming laws around the world” and “Date with a sexual predator”.
They bagged home RM30,000, certificates and a trophy.
MWM 2017 saw 291 entries contesting in 20 categories in the Malaysia Journalism Awards and winners of each category received a cash prize of RM10,000, certificate and trophy.
For the first time in MWM 2017, a Media Personality award was bestowed on Kumpulan Media Karangkraf chairman/managing director Hussamuddin Yaacub for his contributions to journalism. –Bernama