Twisted facts create doubts, confusion: Shafie
Published on: Monday, February 18, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government has urged the local media to continue providing fair and balanced reporting in the face of increasing fake news in social media.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the mainstream media, whether English, Chinese. Bahasa Malaysia or Kadazandusun, is an important source of reliable information for the public. 

“Today, we are faced with many untruths or twisted facts that are spread through the social media by people with specific agendas. These create doubts and confusion among the people.

“I don’t have to dwell at length on this as all of you here as working journalists know for yourself how a fact can be twisted totally to become something else.” 

He said there are many people with specific agendas trying to manipulate issues or even spread total lies to create animosity, hate and tension for their own selfish reasons. 

He said this in his speech, which was read out by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, at the Kota Kinabalu Journalist Association (KKJA) Chinese New Year Luncheon at Hakka Hall, here, Sunday. 

Shafie said he was sure that local journalists will continue to provide fair and balanced reporting for the general public. 

“It is important for all you to maintain your ethics in pursuit of a profession. I am sure if high ethical standards are maintained, journalism will be here to stay.

“There is no harm if you pick a story from another source provided you check the facts before publishing it.

Unsubstantiated reports can be very damaging. Remember, if you spin a story for your own benefit and hoodwink the public, the day will come when the public will no longer trust you.”

He said he was made to understand the CNY luncheon event is held annually by KKJA. 

“I believe it is important for journalists to take time off and enjoy a get-together with each other and their families.

“I know journalists are on 24-7 on their work schedules and there is no time or day off, as the profession can be very taxing not only to you but on your families who might find you an absent father or mother. It is more or less the same with politicians.”

He said he was also very aware of the changing world of journalism and new media in the new world of information technology. Social media and giant internet platforms are slowly chipping into your circulation and revenues. Newspapers are facing dwindling circulations and managements are cutting back costs.

“It is important for newspaper owners and managers to come out with innovative ideas to keep a workable business interest in maintaining the mainstream media.

“I am told that some national newspaper companies are trimming down staff and offering separation packages. So far, in Sabah I have not heard of such moves though managers and owners are tightening operations cost.

“In your efforts to meet the challenges of the media companies, it is important you observe the labour laws and avoid unhealthy practices if and when letting off staff.”

Meanwhile, KKJA Chairman Yong Ted Phen urged journalists to embrace technology that has transformed the way of reporting and news dissemination with a positive attitude. 

He said the advancement of information technology (IT) has a huge impact on the newspaper industry.

Yong said even the Malay Mail that has operated for over a century has stopped printing to go fully digital, adding that many national papers have also ceased their print operations in Sabah.

He said local conventional newspapers are also feeling the pressure to keep up with the new trends.

“Apart from print editions, newspaper organisations have also ventured into e-paper, online news, Facebook and video coverage to disseminate content across multiple platforms in different formats,” Yong said.

“As journalists, our job has undergone a drastic change – from handwriting news reports for Chinese reporters or typewriters for English reporters - to instantaneous reporting and live video coverage.  

“We have to embrace these changes with a positive attitude, to learn new technology that has transformed our way of reporting. 

“At the same time, I hope that the local communities would continue to support the transformation of conventional newspapers in our commitment to bring quick, accurate, fair and transparent reporting to our readers,” Yong added.  - Neil Chan


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