Friday, August 3, 2012

Display Names of Bernama Reporters

Once a while I am reminded via tweets of Section 114a of the Evidence act, where a clause inside that act states that the owners of the articles written via online media is responsible for what they would be writing upon. Any lawyer or law expert who have read this amendment first hand before a layman would be able to explain what this amendment is all about sans the difficult law jargon to give a picture of what it clearly means and how it will impact everyone who's on the social media.

Sure, some would say it is Big Brother thing, but it's true that it's also part of thing to shed some of the privacy skin out of each of them.

Most of the blogs, including some whom I've always visited or some who have been following proper blogging etiquette would be showing maybe the real first names and a mugshot of themselves. Newspapers, if written by their own reporters, would definitely put their names on top of the column that they are writing. That's okay for me, but it is the article syndication by Bernama has raised an interesting point of question here. 

Recently there have been a string of lawsuits mostly by Opposition party people and even some NGOs against newspapers particularly Utusan for instance or an example of NGO sending a cease and desist letter at the news agency demanding that they either put an apology or put a correction. I am more interested with the latter, since whatever articles written by the agency are syndicated to other papers, there is no explicit mention of who really in the agency wrote it, apart from the basic knowledge that it goes through a sub-editor for approval before getting it published. 

One problem: if there is case of misreporting by the agency is that the person, (taking in the context of the recently amended Section 114A of the act ), it should that person taking more of the responsibility rather than having the entire agency blamed for the a small mess. Some may interpret my point as letting the entire organization go off a slap on the wrist but then again there is a lack of responsibility, lack of mirroring what others will have to face with that amendment taking into account.

If anyone of us have read anything that is syndicated from Reuters on the online platform, you definitely seen something like (Contributed / written by Reporter A, Reporter B, edited by Editor A...) at the bottom of the page. Just try to find an article online by say Yahoo for example to see such instance. At least there is some courtesy by an international news agency to demonstrate their writing responsibility and ownership of materials written in the name of the international agency.

But currently not here, not by Bernama. Isn't it appropriate to show more responsibility by the agency to emulate what Reuters did above by indicating for example.."By Reporter ABC, Bernama" in each of their articles syndicated? Are we actually looking at secrecy in even reporting? There's still times where they are fond of writing articles that will appease and make the top officials complacent while not allowing those that seem to make a bad impression on the government in overall.

It's not that hard for a reporter from the agency to show their individual responsibility by putting that small line above. After all, it doesn't take a minute and everyone has the same fair share in writing in the media / mainstream and social. Even top bloggers in the world and in the country also put in at least their first names to show who they are and their responsibility right?

A small responsibility to the readers, that's all.

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