Despite the spring that is in the air following the 8th March tsunami, we are distressed to note that the mainstream media (MSM) continue to slant news reports in favour of the BN parties and block news about PR or highlight unfavourable elements. The treatment of the events of 14th April, 2008 in Kampong Bahru comes to mind as a vivid illustration.
More than this, the MSM in general appear to be more comfortable reporting what this or that person said instead of reporting what their reporters observe. They are also still hesitant about conducting investigative reporting that is fearless and penetrating.
The BENAR civil initiative has been formed to highlight this blight in our democratic process and to call upon all segments of society to demonstrate their concern. The rationale of the BENAR logo expresses our stance.
“The QUILL in yellow is our symbol for a media that will speak on behalf of the people with honour and integrity, without fear or favour.
BENAR in white represents the people’s desire for truth and fairness in the media. To this end, we call on the media to stand forth boldly against the dark forces that want to deny the people’s pursuit of justice and liberty.
We recognize it will be a daunting task for a media that shall DARE TO BE FREE but we, the people, will stand united with you and if our hearts were to bleed, we will bleed as one.
Go forth for your badge of honour.”
BENAR will be officially launched immediately following the conclusion of the forum on Press Freedom organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) to be held on 3rd and 4th May, 2008.
Time: 2:00 pm
Date: Sunday, 4th May, 2008
Venue: Annexe, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur
We have invited both the local and foreign media to attend the launch and will explain to everyone our civil action initiative to promote Truth in Reporting. At the launch, we will also announce the Minggu BENAR of 1st to 7th June, 2008 during which week, everyone will be invited to do what they can to persuade those in control to remove the existing restrictions and allow our journalist community to carry out their responsibilities without fear or favour.
We will be challenging our local journalists to Dare to be Free. Civil society can only raise concerns and offer support. Any change has to come from within the journalist community. Minggu BENAR will be the opportunity for them to stand up or walk or do whatever is their preferred mode of expression, to visibly state their case.
We, the public, will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
BENAR Organising Committee