Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Malaysian sports journalists image tarnished!

My biggest concern for the image of Malaysian sportswriters fraternity, has become a reality., journalist Dave Coppack, who travelled with the team for their Asian Tour here,
took to task the Malaysian sportswriters who covered the MU matches against Malaysia.

It is indeed an embarrassment for sportswriters to be judged poorly by a foreign journalist.

Coppack, also did not have nice things to say about the internet connection at the Media Box.

But I am more concerned of the image of the Malaysian sportswriters which has been tarnished.'s journalist Dave Coppack woes at the Press Box and his views on Malaysian sports journalists Press box etiquette. (read this)

Coppack's comment on Malaysia sports media: Press box etiquette in Britain prevents you showing your true colours. A little different in Malaysia, then.....

Coppack's woes at the Press Box:

"I swear I'll have nightmares for months about this error message. Nothing I tried seemed to help."

It all happened on Saturday during the first match at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Dan Guen Chin, a veteran sportswriter for 30 years, and I were seated in the Press Box way before the match started and what we witnessed, embarrassed us.

We had both hoped that it will not be reported by the British media, who had come in droves to cover the event.

We do not know how many other Press in England would have commented on the Malaysian Press Box, but the one I picked up, is enough for millions of MU fans to have viewed it.

To be fair to the sportswriters who covered the match, not all of them are guilty. But the actions of a handful was enough to tarnish the image of all the sportswriters in Malaysia.

To be honest, I see no harm in coming to the Press Box wearing the national jersey. But to be jumping up and down and running the length and breath of the Press Box when Malaysia scored, was indeed unbecoming of a journalist.

To make matters worse, one writer was even seen showing the middle finger to the MU fans and screaming on top of his voice.

His emotions were running wild and later at the Press Conference, he continued to behave like a fan.

He was even ticked off by a senior English sportswriter, when he screamed in Press Conference as national coach, K. Rajagobal, was leaving the room.

The English journalist told him: "Let us have some security here. Stop jumping up and down and standing on the chair. And do not scream. My colleague (and elderly sportswriter seated beside this Malaysian fan-sportswriter) might have a heart attack."

There was laughter from journalists who were seated around this area of the incident, but the annoyed journalist interjected and said: "This is no laughing matter. I am serious and let us have some order in this room."

At this point, Dan who was in the room, could not take the humiliation, walked out of the room only to return later for Sir Alex Ferguson's Press Conference.

Yes, we all support the Malaysian team, but as journalist we have been trained to keep our emotions inside, as we have to be impartial in our reporting.

But then again, I cannot entirely blame these young sportswriters, who are seen to be a fan first and journalist second.

These days, rookie reporters get thrown in to cover the M-League, Malaysia Cup matches and even the national team.

Those days, we had to earn it before we got to cover any of these matches. It was normal for rookie reporters to cover club and schools beat for at least anything between two to four years, before they get the high profile beats.

Even then, we had our Sports Editors and sometimes the Editor of the newspaper - the likes of the late Mansoor Rahman, Chua Huck Seng, Maurice Khoo, the late Francis Emmanuel, K.C. Boey and Tony Francis to name a few, coming for the matches and sitting in the Press Box to observing us at work. Any pranks or show of emotion will see us getting ticked off immediately and going through the cleaners the next day at the office.

Yes, we occasionally applaud a good move, a safe or goal - but that's it. No running around the Press Box, screaming on top of the voices or being nuisance to other working journalists.

It took me almost 24 years to earn myself a column. We used to write columns, but under a the newspaper's column, which was meant for all of us on the desk. Even then, I had to wait for at least ten years, before I got to write in this pool column.

These days, rookies get columns and with a photo byline within a year or two.

It is clear that reporters these days do not get the proper foundation, which includes ragging from the seniors. Even national players those days used to give rookie reporters a hard time because the likes of the late Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, Datuk Soh Chin, Reduan Abdullah, Datuk M. Chandran, trhe late R. Arumgam to name a few, all had character. That itself was a learning process. These days, young reporters claim themselves authorities in sports and strut around like 'superstar' journalists and they claim to be experts in their field overnight.

Let me not start on the etiquette of sportswriters these days. It would be washing dirty linen in public.

Many of the present sportswriters consider us as "old horses", but we are still worth our salt and the experience we have gained working with some of the best sportswriters in the country, cannot see anyone of these guys hold a candle beside us.

I am not trying to brag, be arrogant or self praise ourselves, but when we see what is happening around us, we cannot stomach it. I, for one have to say my piece because I hold the profession in high esteem and will not stand around watch it being dragged through mud.

I know, I am going to get brickbats for saying what I have said, but at least I have off-loaded what was eating me inside. And if anyone has anything to say, I welcome the comments, but please be man enough to identify yourself and not hide behind anonymous tags.

Here's hoping some pride will be restored for sportswriters in the near future.

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