The issue of mass graves in Wang Kelian: News Reporting of New Straits Times and CNN

Written by Amni Ahmad

The media

The discovery of the mass graves in Wang Kelian which was believed as the victims of human trafficking has shocked Malaysian and people around the world. The two media organisations that reported on the issue of mass graves in Wang Kelian were New Straits Times and CNN. In this article, the writer intends to compare how the issue is presented on both media organisation. The New Straits Times is an English newspaper and the oldest newspaper in Malaysia. It started as a weekly journal that was printed in 1845. Whereas, Cable News Network (CNN) is a basic cable and satellite television news channel that based in America. This news channel owned by the Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner.

Practicalities of the Media

The issue was first reported by the New Straits Times, as they conducted an exclusive investigative reporting about the mass killings in Wang Kelian in 2015. Recently, the journalists revealed another new evidence that exposed the massive and coordinated cover-up regarding the issue. The investigative team conducted their investigation for two years to come out with such an article. This is very interesting as it requires such a long period of time to complete the report.

The journalists started the report by re-stating the details about the incident. This helps the readers to remember back to what has happened in 2015. The journalists also mentioned about their new evidence that they managed to gather throughout the investigation period. Not only that, the journalist also questioned about the action of the police that destroyed the camps before it is being processed and investigated by the forensic team. This becomes a big question in people’s mind. The questioning technique used in the news report is very effective as it increases the curiosity of the readers to know more about the incident.

In the news report, the journalists stated their efforts to get the evidence in many ways, such as conducting interviews with countless personalities who were directly involved in the case, re-check and verified the fact through official documents and reams of reports, and meet the witnesses and independent sources. They also went back to the crime scene where evidence of the victims’ torture and suffering are found. It showed how serious they are in investigating the issue.

Apart from that, New Straits Times journalists stated about their sources of information who directly involved with the case voluntarily shared the information with them. This is a strong evidence as he/she is someone who is relevant to the case share the information. The journalists also are ethical as they take care of their sources by not revealing the details about the information.

In addition, the journalist’s news report were accompanied with several photos that showed the condition at the crime scene. This is very helpful and interesting. The journalists also arranged the whole news report by providing sub heading which differentiates on topic to another topic. This includes “First Contact- The “Real” Version”, “The Contradicting Report”, and “The Other Shocking Find”. It is well organised. This is a long article, by doing this, it helps the readers to read and understand the story.

Meanwhile, the same issue also was reported on CNN. However, the reporting was only about the discovery that was made in 2015 and responses from a related party. There was no further report regarding the issue.

In the beginning of the news report, the journalist did mention that the information was taken from Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency. The first three paragraphs provide information about the discovery of the mass graves. It was quoted from the then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. Besides Bernama, the news report also was cited from Sunday, a Bangladesh state newspaper. From the report, the journalist highlighted the statement made by Bangladesh leader, Sheikh Hasina.

Besides that, the journalist also highlighted the issue of humanitarian faced by Southeast Asian nations. The journalist tends to show the correlation between the discovery of the mass graves and this issue. Furthermore, the news report also included the statement made by Malaysian Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to show his response. The journalists also mentioned the statement made by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak based on his tweet on Twitter.

The news story is divided into several sub-heading such as “We Will Find More”, “Bangladeshi PM: Punish migrants”, and “U.S. military request”. This makes it easier to be read. It can be considered as organised. In addition, there are several photos included in the news report. This includes the photo of Thailand Prime Minister, Najib’s tweet on his Twitter account which showed his feelings in regard to the issue, and migrants on the boat trying to survive.

Overall, the news report by CNN was not really in-depth as compared to New Straits Times. CNN only reported the news by referring to another media organisation while The New Straits Times reporting is an investigative reporting whereas CNN only report it based on the ground. The initiatives to include many sources should be praised. It gave a different perspective for the readers.

The writer feels that both of the media organisation should include graphic illustrations or visual to accompany the news report to make it more interesting. This is because the story was quite long. By using video, it helps people to understand the whole story easily.

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