Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top reasons why authorities should be careful about what they throw to the media.


At the end, its all about kittens.
The members of the media are an impatient lot. I know, I was one of them. But sometimes, their impatience should not be rewarded with tossing of scraps of information just to satisfy them like tossing a politician in a cage full of Rottweiler. The canines will die of food poisoning.

No thanks to the tragedy recently occurred (see my previous blog post), the media, instead of the victims are becoming more and more the centre of attraction. Former prime minister of Malaysia tweeted that Malaysians should behave themselves because the whole world is watching. Who is he kidding, we were the laughing stock of the world long time ago.

Of course, authorities should know how Malaysians react to tragedies and that is why I believe they are not going to be fast in dishing out information due to some of the situations I think is prevalent, like:

Alternate Media vs Mainstream Media = oh shit!

Mainstream media usually means printed newspapers, magazines and such. While alternate media denotes those you look at on the internet, or pretend to, while you have porn sites on another web browser.

Mainstream media is an expensive operation. Bales of papers, inks, sweats and bloods of the reporter, blood pressure pills and alcohol for the editors, and fiery phone calls awaiting the management are the sort of rigmaroles that goes into the final ingredient in form of nicely folded pages of papers that get tossed in your letterbox, outside your office, or in your porch if the dog has not sunk its teeth already.

Mainstream media usually go through shitload of checking before getting a story out. Every journalist out there has a story about how he or she had been called by an editor, deputy editor or even a sub-editor and given hell for writing pieces of unverified trashes, and worst still, writing trashes. I myself was given an earful for misplacing the decimal points in some goddam numbers.

In fact, I recall the first week working for a business daily, where I was called by a somewhat hung-over looking sub-editor the next day after submitting a story, accusing me that I got the order of the information wrong. Inverted pyramid they say, important message up, and least important bottom for them to cut if needed. Sort of like upside down food pyramid where the bottom most are the ones that will decide in what form they want to emerge into the toilet bowl the next morning. Of course, feeling tremendously guilty, I checked the edited work only to find that it was exactly how I reported it. The sub-editor did not last long there. I don’t know why.

I don’t know if these exercise of checking and re-checking and quoting and crediting goes on in alternate media. Most of the time I read “according to a source working in Acme Corp” or a “spokesperson from Nosedigger Bhd, under the guise of anonymity said…”  or a “representative from Digg Head Enterprise, who didn’t want to be identified said…” in many crucial news pieces, often by senior journalist. For all I know they might have pulled a fast one out of their ass and simply credit it to unknown source.

These people makes a mountain out of a molehill and it is not their fault – it’s the competition, plus they don’t want to earn the ire of their respective editors who didn’t get where they are now by writing piffles. Granted they may have slept around, but that takes lots of sacrifice too (especially when it involves not so great looking politicians or approaching past expiry date corporate figures).

Information may not be valid.

Nobody is perfect and this includes; I kid you not, and don’t call this a blasphemy, online social network users. I recall an old game we played in the classroom, where the teacher would tell a secret to the first student sitting right in front at one corner and ask him or her to pass it to the next student, and next, and next and finally to the last student at the corner who is probably taking the geographic advantage by looking at a porn magazine under the table.

And that student is asked to tell what the secret was. For example the teacher must have told the first student this: “A cat knocked down my vase”…and the last student might regurgitate “my dad smacked my arse”. The incestuous kinky revelation may not please the teacher but the student is not at fault. It was the dad’s.
But you get the drift. Information goes to various stages of editing, purification, addition (with no preservatives added), and when it reaches the intended audience the goddamn dog has lapped up the first paragraph. You just need to wait and hope that it didn’t digest.

Good news, or bad news comes to those who wait.

It may not be instant, but some news takes times to be revealed, such as that moment when your mother announced that you are going to have a baby brother or sister, despite the fact that you yourself are in your late-forties and your son is entering the high school.

Some events take time to unfold. Witness the farce that was the US presidency election back in 2000, everyone thought Al Gore won and bzzzzt, wrong answer. After scratching the head and the bum (not necessarily in that order), they had to do a recount, and the sequel to the Iraqi War was later announced by the real winner. It takes time, no matter how technologically superior we have come from the days when you have to wait for messenger on a horse, or a pigeon, or a pigeon on a messenger horse or vice versa to find out that the enemy is planning to launch an attack on your kingdom, and they are probably riding around displaying your severed head already before those four legged and fury messengers arrived.

Impatience breeds dirt suckers

Technology has made us impatient. Look at how people stab the goddam lift button more than once hopping that they have the magic touch that will make the lift answer only to your command ignoring other floors where someone is probably already smashing the lift button with his goddam elbow. At the click of a mouse, click of the TV remote control, and slight crack of your shoulder muscle for staring too long at screen(s), you expect information to jump out and flash itself like a five bucks stripper from a phony looking giant birthday cake

Many (this author included) hit on the search engine looking for precisely what they wanted to hear. For example, someone may have given the prestigious title “bitch” to your favourite actress. You would want to counter that and furiously make variety of searches looking for results that complements your own opinion, and upon finding a link, you would attach it in your Facebook status, tag your enemy and write “take that, sucker!” under which lies the prodigious link with the headline, “Hunger Game Actress Delivers Kittens”.  

That will make a big impact in the social media circle, with everyone lapping it up to the point that certain British tabloids may have to close down their business and start fish and chips lunch truck.

When all is done, it’s back to normal.

Gnashing their teeth, hissing through their nose with boogers stuck on their upper lips, arms akimbo, the readers and viewers do get finally fed the information that they are looking for. It was worth the wait, because they have left behind something that means a lot more to them – their own goddam pathetic lives.
I wrote about this in the previous blog. Things do go back to normal, dogs to be fed, children to be pet, husbands bum to be washed, wife’s make up kit to be arranged, or maids to be abused and not necessarily in that order. As I said, only those directly involved in the event the media informed about are impacted throughout the rest of their lives. For the others, life goes on.

Life, as Jeff Goldblum put eloquently in the greatest documentary since Jaws, Jurassic Park, will find a way.

Whatever I wrote above are something that has been bugging me the last few days. I hope I will never have to revisit this post again when another tragedy strikes and the blame game starts again. Because I would be too busy looking after Jennifer Lawrence’s kittens.

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