Aqilah’s reckoning of check and balance role in journalism

By Aqilah Bahar

“Pressured mind combines with favouritism will bring about the downfall anytime soon”

Sharing the tantamount journey to her peers in their 20s, Aqilah, a Kedah born young lady is in her final year of completing her degree. She would best be described as either clueless or confused most times, dressed in the baggiest clothing and often lost in her own thoughts.

She, who owns a pair of dark brown eyes, a hint of gold to her pinkish medium complexion, a slightly arched eyebrows and asymmetrical face shape, is quite a character—reserved, unpredictable, compassionate.

Gracing the life of her parents by being their firstborn, she was raised in a small town free from the screaming noises of the traffic, a drive of picturesque view painted by the green paddy field, and a fairly developed Alor Setar city.

She received years of primary schooling in a co-ed school and an all girls school for secondary level. Aqilah belonged to a single-parent family after experiencing the sudden lost of her dear father early this year. Although death is inevitable and is a part of life cycle, she thinks that making peace with the reality is challenging. Even so, she believed that what sets people apart is the rough patches in lives, smooth sailing, and everything in between that is personally experienced by a person in their journeys of a lifetime.

During her high school days, amidst the emotional chaos and tiresome routines she had, Aqilah was once awarded Bintang Semangat Kedah (BSK) by Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Sallehuddin, which represents the collective effort of Aqilah and her fellow marching band geeks.

She reflected that the humble beginning brought about success that never once crossed her mind. “I was honestly very proud of myself and my bandmates. That achievement alone washed away all the constant doubts and endless dramas the bandmates had. It felt like I was at the peak of my life.” 

At certain points, she believed that all the high and lows, bumps and glitched streets, make the person she is. “My strengths and weaknesses are the result of my personal journey and I am trying my best to work with both areas and balance them.”

She further added she found herself to be both driven and easily dispirited, highly dependent on the things she works on—either it is a manifestation of her passions or tolerating the discomfort of indifference.

“I find myself indulging in things that I have interest in and easily lose the drive if it is the opposite.”  Another weak point of her many traits is that she often finds herself being absorbed in thoughts rather than focusing on reality.

When confronted about her views in politics, she chuckled in response. 

“At one time I thought politics was lousy and not to my surprise I still think so. I was one of those who would avoid discussions on politics because it brought me discomfort. But I realised at this age that in this economy, the wealth inequality is very much apparent and I believe a true democratic country can overcome inequalities and wealth gap.”

Elaborating with much enthusiasm, she argued that everything is just politics nowadays. Other than arguing about different political views and pointing fingers, she believed that we should unite and put aside the differences to keep the politicians in check—which may sound utopian, she claimed. 

“People should help themselves by being informed and updated. To be able to do that we need to have honest sources and platforms to disseminate the information. I highly believe journalism is one of the many powerful weapons to foreground these issues.” 

To say journalism is her passion and relaying the idea that it would be a lifetime career option is an honest lie. However, she enunciated the literal truth that journalism does instil a sense of power and evoke the fire of curiosity and justice in her mind.

She added  “Journalism is a tool, a powerful one at that. It gives power and voices to the powerless but only if it is employed in the right way.”

She reckoned to be a journalist you have to be true to yourself and your principles.

“To be a credible writer, you have to have a strong held principles on top of a good writing skills.” She mentioned that this is what she lacks—the skills of a good writer. To write a solid and well transmitted ideas, and to be able to educate and inform the masses, a lot of work needs to be done before she can fully depend on her skills that encompasses all areas of journalism—researching, interviewing, writing and reporting.”

She is working on her skills by trying to write more often and getting the most from different sources, from accessing the news sites to reading books such as The Art of Letting God by Mizi Wahid and Henderson The Rain King by Saul Bellow.

Astro Awani is one of the news sources she would opt for to get the latest insight of the recurring situations as they promised to bring current and all-encompassing news and is one of the most trusted platforms. However, she believed that they failed to build credibility and show transparency from the recent debates of a possible state of emergency.

“Instead of outlining the needs for darurat (emergency) and to be critical about this idea that could cost lives and divided communities, they picked a side and it shows.”

The objective of journalism, according to Aqilah, is challenged by insinuating an idea instead of reporting factual data. She believed that in journalism, external and internal pressures should be avoided by any means, and bias views should not be practised.

“Favouritism and authoritative pressures someday will be the downfall of this industry if it is not intensively curbed.” ”***

(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)

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