MEDIA’S ACCESS TO INFORMATION ESSENTIAL FOR QUALITY REPORTING, SHAPING INFORMED PUBLIC

KUCHING, The media's ability to access information is essential in producing quality and accurate reporting that will eventually better inform the public. Sarawak's The Star reporter, Sharon Ling said the media have a role to serve as a bridge between information sources and the public. She said access to accurate information allows media to inform the public about current events, issues and developments thus enabling individuals to make informed decisions in their personal lives. 'This is why, more importantly, I think government ministries and agencies involved in developing policies for the public can look into providing better media access to information. 'On the whole, the media in Sarawak enjoy good relations with official sources of information but there is always room for improvement,' she told Bernama. In this regard, Sharon who has been a journalist for 23 years proposed the topic of access to information to be discussed during the National Journalists' Day (HAWANA) 2024 celebration, scheduled to be held here from May 25 to 27. On the topic of improving the media industry in Sarawak, she hopes that more training can be provided to improve journalists' skills, not only in reporting and writing but also in understanding issues of specific interest to Sarawak. 'Issues such as green energy, carbon trading and state-federal relations involve great technicality and understanding, with better training we can report on these issues with greater depth and insight,' she said. Meanwhile, Natasha Jee, a reporter from the New Sarawak Tribune, said that the mental health and wellbeing of journalists should be one of the agendas discussed during the upcoming HAWANA. She said this aspect of journalism is often sidelined compared to other topics like media freedom and ethics. 'This has to be addressed, members of the media are often in a rush, meeting deadlines, and have irregular sleep patterns, maybe it would be beneficial to see initiatives aimed at improving their health and well-being. 'Hopefully there w ill be good policy to be announced that will benefit those in the media fraternity,' she said. HAWANA 2024, themed 'Etika Teras Kewartawanan Mapan', is the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists, and the highlight of the celebration will be officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 27. It is organised by the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the Sarawak state government, with the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) as the implementing agency. HAWANA was first held in the federal capital in 2018, followed by subsequent celebrations in Melaka (2022) and Perak (2023). The date of May 29 was chosen as National Journalists' Day to commemorate the first publication of the Utusan Melayu newspaper on May 29, 1939. Source: BERNAMA News Agency