A. Asohan, the editor of InTech has provided a public response to all the bruhaha that started with a posting i recently made in review of an article written by L.C. Wong about bloggers in INFOSOC. The response in its entirety can be found below:
Yes, it's me, A. Asohan, that horrible In.Tech editor.
There have been so assumptions made over the last couple of days – about the integrity of my reporter, about the quality and ability of all In.Tech reporters, and about how we work here -- that I think I better clear the air about some of these issues.
This is going to a long, long post, unfortunately.
First off, Sharizal -- I agree with you. That apology by Aizuddin was unnecessary, and I had told him so myself. Certainly we had nothing against his initial blog entry. He gave kudos and brickbats. Fair comment, in my mind, as was his right. He called ‘em as he saw ‘em.
But I’m also glad that Aizuddin corrected his error in saying that L.C. Wong had miscredited a quote, for her sake.
Contrary to your assumption Sharizal, we DO welcome constructive criticism, and it was reading his blog that made me realise my horrendous “Transitions” mistake – yes, MINE, not the reporter’s.
Indeed, if anybody had called it a terrible and stupid mistake, we would have had no cause for complain either. It was a terrible and stupid mistake.
It was also, as far as I know – nobody has been able to show me otherwise – the ONLY mistake in the article.
Once I realised that, we prepared the correction and apology for the next issue. Jeff Ooi – the ONLY injured party in this issue – also sent me an e-mail pointing out the error. He did not even request an apology, but of course we did issue one – it is standard practice with any newspaper in Malaysia.
Indeed Shahrizal, you don’t even have to criticise in a civil manner, although civility does help smooth out any discourse or disagreement.
But when you do criticise, you better be able to back it up with facts. And there is a very big difference between criticism and just plainly attacking the professionalism and person of my reporter, myself and our colleagues with broad, generalised statements and insults.
I’m not even complaining about some of the negative comments – we screwed up. No excuses.
That one mistake. Yet here’s what another blogger posted: "So, irrespective of the bad research or bad reporting that resulted in this article ..."
“Bad research and bad reporting” – apparently because she wasn’t quoted in the article, nor was her picture used. Thus the article no longer had any value.
Blogger Jikon Lai sent an Open Letter to Najah:
"You should not concern yourself with organised mainstream media when they are inefficient, inconsiderate and incorrect. There is enough scepticism in Malaysia over them to render their value somewhat suspect anyway."
So, because we didn’t feature her, we’re inefficient, inconsiderate and incorrect. Paint all journalists with the same brush, why don’t you? We had not called anyone any names, nor insulted anyone … yet we’re inconsiderate?
Lana, what can I say?
"In Malaysia, our media seems to reflect the needs of the minority"
Unlike Affin, I’m not going to ask for proof. Such a thing is hard to prove, anyway. Our readership figures may belie this of course, but one can always argue that since Malaysians don’t have any choice, they’re just settling for the least of all evils when they read The Star.
But consider this: We may not be serving your needs, but what makes you think you’re in the majority anyway? Certainly many readers believe In.Tech is serving their needs – nearly 600,000 of them, according to the last independent media audit I’ve seen.
"At the end of the day, the media has a duty to the public, as it reflects the events and perhaps the sentiments of the public."
Yes, and I truly believe in this duty. If In.Tech has failed in this duty, please let me know in what way and I’ll see what we can do. Something concrete please.
"Journalists, however, do, and when the public says something, instead of getting all huffy and puffy"
Huh? So In.Tech got all huffy and puffy over the criticisms levelled at it over this issue? As far as I know, this is the first time we’re responding to it.
Ash.ox – you’re raised some good counterpoints, but let me address one immediately: The phrase “extensive coverage” was not directed at the Infosoc article alone. Indeed, blogging was only one of many issues brought up at Infosoc. I think they’re referring to stuff like these in just the last few months:
And other stories on blogging like these
There were many more that we haven’t archived electronically, and a whole host of articles last year and in 2001. Just thought you’d like to know.
Ash.ox, Lana may not have implied that bloggers may slander freely (actually, since we’re not talking about the spoken word but the printed word, the term is “libel”), but that only journalists – not bloggers – should hold themselves up to certain standards.
What are these standards? Among others, they are:
1) To not libel or defame anyone – criticism must be backed up by facts and information; opinions should not be mere rants but should be informed and informative.
2) Check all sides of the story first before forming an opinion.
3) Ensure your information is correct and accurate.
4) To be balanced, objective and fair.
Journalists sometime stray from this path, either through carelessness or by giving up, but these are the ideals we strive to upkeep.
However I disagree with your conclusions Ash.ox: I think the world would be a better place if all of us tried to practise these principles in how we deal with ourselves, and how we deal with others, instead of saying “hey, we’re not journalists so we don’t have to be like this.” Why not be like this because it’s a good way to approach life anyway?
And now I give into some pettiness (I’m only human) – to those who characterised In.Tech as ultimately becoming sawi wrapping, while bloggers live on in cyberspace in perpetuity, I’ve got some bad news for you: In.Tech is as much an online publication as it is a print publication. In.Tech has been online for more than eight years now. In fact, we were the first media organisation in Malaysia to have embraced the online world, the original In.Tech Online having gone live a full 24 hours before The Star Online -- itself the first paper in the country to go online, and only the third in all of Asia at the time.
I take great pride in that, as you see
Finally, I’ll be bluntly honest with all of you – the other reason why I told Aizuddin that he needn’t have apologised was that I knew this would happen. And I was right – the ones who try to present another point of view would get criticised in turn; while the detractors who posted such strong criticism based on Aizuddin’s initial post will not stop to consider that perhaps they were wong, after all, to have so furiously attacked my reporter and my publication.
After all, their opinions had already been formed, and woe to anyone who suggests that they should change it based on new information.