Malaysian media is biased. No! Really?
What level of sin is it if a media organisation is biased? Is it 'makruh', 'dosa kecil', or out right 'haram'?
What level of sin is it if a media organisation to be biased? Is it 'makruh', 'dosa kecil', or out right 'haram'? For the majority in Malaysia, it's actually no problem at all.
And if you ask me, I would have to agree with the majority. Surprise surprise! You heard me, the professional journalist, right. Biasness in the media is no problem at all.
In this day and age, people in society receive an overload of information from all kinds of sources. There's TV, radio, print, Internet, mobile phone, iPad, Galaxy, Nexus, the kitchen sink, etc.
You've got most of the mainstream media that are owned by the ruling party spewing their propaganda. And you've got blogs, tweets and news portals that spew out the opposition's propaganda.
Tons of information is all over the traditional and new media, and biased ones at that. This is pretty obvious so don't try to even attempt to deny it.
So if you were an ordinary rakyat who wanted to be updated on the news, you've got a wide selection. And it’s all really up to you. It's true. You get to decide.
You can watch TV or read the newspapers. And you can also visit blogs, read tweets or browse through online news portals. No one is going to stop you.
That would mean you would be exposed to news that are bias towards the ruling party, and also to news that are bias towards the opposition.
Wouldn't you say, that if you were exposed to both sides, then you would actually have a balanced view of the entire situation? This is assuming you were intelligent enough to distinguish it, of course.
So now, if you think about it, would it really be a big deal if the different media organisations (or even individuals) were bias in their news and views? Not really, right?
What really matters here is that the media has to be honest. They can be bias and partisan all they want, as long as they don't lie to the public.
Lying and being dishonest is not 'makruh' and not even 'dosa kecil'. It is outright 'haram' in my books. It is 'haram' to the maximum of what 'haram' can be.
Actually, there are other books besides mine that says its ‘haram’ too. One of it is the Quran. Surah Al-Baqarah states:
“And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal he truth while you know it.”
Another is Muhamad Al-Bukhari’s book of hadith, the Sahih Al-Bukhari. In it, he quotes Prophet Muhammad’s father-in-law, Abu Bakar, as saying:
“Allah's Apostle (The Prophet) said thrice, ‘Shall I not inform you of the biggest of the great sins?’. We said, ‘Yes, O Allah's Apostle’. He said, ‘To join partners in worship with Allah: to be undutiful to one's parents.’ The Prophet sat up after he had been reclining and added, ‘And I warn you against giving forged statement and a false witness; I warn you against giving a forged statement and a false witness.’ The Prophet kept on saying that warning till we thought that he would not stop.”
That is pretty straightforward isn’t it? And with that being said, let me just add that subjectivity and biasness are only natural human traits.
But being dishonest is ‘zalim’, and especially so for journalists and media practitioners since it is their responsibility and obligation to tell the truth to the public.
So my call to all my fellow journalists and media practitioners (no difference if you are Muslim or not), no matter what your views and opinions are, please always tell the truth.
By all means, fight for and argue your thoughts and opinions, but with facts and honest powers of persuasion. Never lie, conceal the truth or deceive people.
Remember that being a journalist and media practitioner is more than just a career and a monthly pay cheque. It is a responsibility and obligation.