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Monday, 12 September 2016

Media Demonising Animals?

Berita Harian: “Salakan Anjing Selamatkan Bayi”

Harian Metro: “Bayi Nyaris Dibaham Anjing”

The Star: “Dog Alerts Owner To Dumped Baby”

Last weekend, a dog in Jinjang alerted its owner after finding a newborn baby which was dumped in a drain. The story made rounds on several media outlets but one headline caused an uproar among animal lovers. Most media reported to the tone of; the dog saved the baby. However, Harian Metro took the opportunity to demonise the dog instead, by allocating a full page for this story with the headline “Nyaris Dibaham Anjing” along with the photo of the baby.

To make it worse, they followed the headline by another line saying “Bayi Lelaki Di Letakkan Dalam Kotak Hampir Jadi Makanan Haiwan”. What surprised me was, there were a lot of people who also supported Harian Metro’s interpretation of the incident saying “we never know if the dog wanted to eat baby,...maybe the dog barked because it wanted to baham the baby and etc”. The shocking truth is, all this just diverts us from the real issue here, which is; disgusting humans who dump a newborn child in a drain!! Why even attempt to demonise a dog in the end?

Harian Metro’s headline and the article, are both contradicting. They just did a “tokok tambah” or sensationalised the story to sell their papers. Those who say there could be some truth in Metro’s version also fail to realise the police have made a statement about the incident a day before the print was out (see photo below). Nowhere did they mention the baby came under attack or the dog was a threat in any way. This also brings me to another point; Always read articles thoroughly and don’t conclude stories from their headlines. Headlines can be misleading.

Another interesting thing to note is, the same story on Harian Metro’s online portal does not mention anything about the dog wanting to harm the baby. They probably quietly edited the story today after realising it was wrong (I’m guessing). On print however they can’t edit and it was too late. Millions of people who read the papers could’ve been easily influenced to think that dogs are vicious man eaters, adding to the existing stigma dogs have in our society. Unfortunately, this is how media can change people’s mindset especially the young ones. Below are the correct version of the story carried by other media outlets.

This also reminds me of a similar story carried by Kosmo. The headline read “Kekejaman Harimau Kuala Pilah".  Translated to English :- The Vicious Panther Of  Kuala Pilah

This was referring to a panther which attacked livestock in Parit Mungkal, Tanjung Ipoh. Stories like these yet again demonise animals, by conveniently forgetting they are just looking for food to survive. Humans have also encroached and destroyed their habitat and exploited them. But when human-animal conflicts arise, do we simply blame them? You be the judge. Don’t fall for media spinning!

1 comment:

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