Given the right government support, they could be redeployed in the effort to turn Malaysians into a reading society, writes JD Lovrenciear.
The number of journalists who have been laid off deserves a government re-think.
The easy way out seems to be one of singing along with excuses that, since the readership, listeners and viewers of print and electronic media are on the decline, these media cannot stay afloat. Or to take cover behind the widely held claim that in the face of the social media revolution and the ‘networked society’, the traditional media industry has no choice but to let these laid-off journalists be the fall guys and girls.
What the government needs to acknowledge is that journalists are the wordsmiths of a nation. Without the written word (including radio and television), a country will be driven to stagnation.
Rather then let laid-off journalists (including new entrants) get just any job to pay the bills and live on survival mode, the government needs to step forward. It must re-engineer trained, qualified and capable journalists to meet the country’s present and future need for knowledge, information and truth.
We should as a nation look at publications as a national business and not just keep chasing after ‘flying cars’ or focus on the choking automobile industry. We need to recognise that we are lagging far behind in becoming a society that reads and is able to discern.
Laid-off journalists, if given the right support by the government, could be redeployed in the effort to turn Malaysians into a reading society. These journalists could be retrained by the government to become subject-matter experts for academic publications. They could be deployed to make the radio and television business a great success story in the coming fifth industrial revolution.
It is time for the government to be creative and innovative. If it can pump taxpayers’ money into so many ventures here and abroad and keep losing on those fruitless ventures, why can’t it undertake to build the news and written word sector into a profitable national venture? After all, the world needs to read, listen and watch even more than before.
We must not discount the fact that we could be a global publishing/production house if we really want to.