The Status of Media Ethics in Malaysian Entertainment Industry

Written by Anis Adrina Md Nor

Unconsciously, people lives are touched by the entertainment which they never saw or heard. Although people are widely exposed to entertainment, what can bee seen nowadays is the media discussion about “entertainment” is lack of ethics. We can see that there are several of formal rules, ethical codes for media, however, all of it are only guiding the hard news media and there are vague guidelines of media ethics in entertainment industry.

Generally, there is no equivalent system of formal ethical codes or rule for the entertainment industry. Looking at how powerful media can influence people’s mind, it is getting challenging for the people in entertainment industry to counter that there is relation between produced products and a dangerous ill-mannered of today’s society.

In Malaysia, the media entertainment ethics is on the right track. According to a senior entertainment journalist, who is now entertainment program producer, Nas Ahmad, the ethics in entertainment media in Malaysia is exacly following the other media ethics as there is no specific media ethics guideline provided particularly for entertainent industry,

To Nas Ahamd, media practitioner in entertainment must know to balance between the needs of ethics and sensationalism as the presentation of entertainment news story are mostly based on. For an example, in a story, one can add music background or editing video to give sensational impact to the story, however, what is yes should stay as yes and what is no should stay as no. A media practitioner cannot add any unconfirmed facts.

Among the common issues in entertainment media ethics in Malaysia are fair comment, confidentiality of source, and privacy. Nas Ahmad commented on fair comment issue where he stated that when a journalist get information about certain issue, what he/she must do is to find the persons involved in the issue, ask for clarification or statement from both sides.

For the issue of confidentiality of source, when a journalist get source or story from other person, they cannot reveal who is the informer to the persons in the issues. “Media practioner has to know whether a story that is related to personal matter of celebrity is suitable to be published or it will defame the related persons”, Nas Ahmad said.

In cases where he found that the personal story of a celebrity was highly potential to embarrass the celebrity or touches the issue of privacy invasion, he decided to kill the story.

One element that makes one issue related to privacy can be published is when it happened in public place. When public figures did something which can tarnish their reputation in public place, story like this can be published.

Take the example of the case where Melodi aired a clip of a married couple (both are actor and actress in Malaysia) were quarelling in front of media after the husband was caught having affair with another actress. In this case, the media were not at fault to air the footage as they both quarelled in public space. Although Melodi has received many criticisms after they aired the clip, it is the media role to show what is truly happening at the site.

Overall, to Nas Ahmad, the media ethics in entertainment industry in Malaysia is still good and sat the right track. As long as the media practitioner themselves know the boundaris of ethics and unethical practice, media in entertainment industry will be not be labelled as unethical.

Nas Ahmad, a senior entertainment journalist, well-known in Terjah segment aired on Melodi TV3.

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