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Protect the press, journalism profession

Datuk Muguntan Vanar… mainstream media must remain trusted source of information

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Journalists Association (SJA) hopes that all stakeholders, media agency owners, and the government will play their roles in protecting the Fourth Estate, namely the press and journalism profession.

Its president Datuk Muguntan Vanar said all those entities also need to ensure that the mainstream media remains a trusted source of information for society.

“As an association, we have seen many mainstream media outlets close down or downsize, with advertising revenue reducing significantly over the years.

“Many of our good journalists have lost their jobs or have been forced to become freelancers to earn a living with the closures and retrenchments.

“The mainstream media’s role remains more relevant and important in this new era,” he told Bernama.

Commenting on how to ensure the media industry in Sabah continues to progress, Muguntan said there is a collective need for all journalists to learn, embrace as well as pursue the values and elements of journalism.

The Star Sabah bureau chief also said this enables journalists to consistently produce and publish unbiased, accurate news of the highest integrity, adding that the saleability of media products depends on their credibility.

“Media practitioners uphold the integrity of their craft and are uncompromising in that stance. The professional code of ethics binds journalists. Such commitment to the code should manifest in the conduct and content of journalists.

“Unless they are subscribed and lived out in the lives of journalists and media owners, the subject of ‘maju’ in the media is illusive, or at best superficial,” he explained.

Muguntan stated that journalism is guided by self-governance based on practices, as unlike other professions, journalism does not have written laws but does have ethics to observe.

According to him, multiple laws in the country also affect journalists; thus, the proposed establishment of a Malaysian Media Council could provide some guidelines.

And until then, journalism remains in a sphere of self-governance, which can be very challenging for the profession.

Muguntan also said that there are no signs that the media industry will become irrelevant soon, as relevance is determined by the consumers, as well as integrity, insight and credibility.

Therefore, the relevance of a journalists body lies in how it unflinchingly teaches, upholds and champions media integrity and journalist competence, he said.

He said it is essential for all journalists in Malaysia to understand the differences that exist in communities in different areas or states in the country.

“By understanding it, it will put all of us in a position to strive for uniformity and unity in line with the ethics and practices of journalism,” he added.

The National Journalists’ Day (Hawana) 2024, themed ‘Etika Teras Kewartawanan Mapan’, will be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 27 in Kuching, Sarawak.

Hawana 2024, the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists, is organised by the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the Sarawak government, with the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) as the implementing agency. — Bernama

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