I owe photojournalist Mohd Ishak an apology.
By Belmont Lay
The last few days have been spent twiddling my thumbs and looking sheepish.
What have I done? What should I do? Are these feelings “guilt pangs”?
And the responses online were coming hard and fast.
Man up, said one Scott Laizheng Lai.
Belmont is an ugly, dangerous toad, said another.
Thou shalt apologise, you anti-mainstream media cronies, said Cherian George.
The issue? New Nation put out a wildly inaccurate piece supposedly pinpointing the areas on a two-year-old photo showing cyclists that had been doctored.
But turns out that it wasn’t the case at all after the photojournalist, Mohd Ishak, who took the photo clarified. Convincingly.
I stand corrected.
Hence, saying sorry is necessary because a photojournalist’s integrity is at stake, not just because my photojournalists friends are threatening to hold me down, tie me up and kick my nuts in.
And it is necessary because the type of “work” (loosely defined) that New Nation does cannot happen otherwise.
We have never intended to be a shining beacon of light in this wild and tumultuous online media world.
Neither are we here to be a watchdog or role model or get too famous.
If we ever achieved any of those statuses, we did so obliquely.
And that would be a good sign that it is time to quit and move on to something else.
However, there is one rule that we should follow or else we would automatically cease to exist.
New Nation should only be known for circulating half-truths knowingly and intentionally.
The mistake, therefore, was to circulate half-truths that were not fully certified to be half-truths.
This, ironically, has a deleterious effect on our credibility (or incredibility).
If the above statements sound puzzling and do not make sense to you, do yourself a favour and just read the following:
To Mohd Ishak, I’m sorry man. My bad. I owe you one. Drop me an email at [email protected] I love teh tarik so teh tarik’s on me.
Lunch or dinner is fine too.
The 50% real news tagline never gave us blanket protection. And we’ve never insisted on it.
It is not a license to peddle falsehoods.
But it sure makes things entertaining.
And for those who are still arguing if the photos are real, you seriously need to stop watching Avatar.