24/05/2024 06:15 PM

By Ammar Shafiq Hamzah

KUCHING, May 24 (Bernama) -- The media industry in Sarawak has come a long way with significant progress since the 1980s and 1990s, according to veteran journalist Toman Mamora.

The former Sarawak Press Group editor said during that time, the media landscape was one in which gathering and analysing news and stories was time-consuming and tedious, especially in a vast geographically challenging state like Sarawak.

“Outstation news reports were sent to the newsroom by fax and we frequently had to use photos and stories from Bernama (the Malaysian National News Agency) and the Information Department. Against all the odds, we made it in time for the newsroom deadline.

“Where accessibility was a problem, we would appoint a few freelance reporters to provide us with basic community news stories and many of them were teachers.”

He said this during a recent interview in conjunction with the 2024 National Journalists' Day (HAWANA) celebration scheduled to be held here from May 25 to 27. 

Toman who has worked in the journalism industry for more than 30 years, said the unmatched cooperation of other journalists on the ground had also helped during the early days.

“This spirit of cooperation always helps as we frequently shared the accounts of events when we lacked the personnel to cover them in remote areas or when our people were unable to get there due to transportation issues that would have required them to take an express boat or, in the case of a lucky few, a helicopter ride,” he said.

He said all of these are now history as the arrival of the internet in the newsroom has made the gathering and processing of stories faster and more efficient.

Equipped with a laptop, tablet or even just a handphone, a reporter could send his or her story and pictures from the location without the hustle of rushing to a nearby place where communication facilities were available to dispatch the story, he added.

Meanwhile, commenting on HAWANA 2024, Toman said it should be held as a grand affair to celebrate the role and contributions of all communicators including journalists, editors, TV producers and teachers of communication. 

He said the media industry should also remember and honour veteran journalists who have either retired or died and who have left an indelible mark in the annals of the Malaysian media industry.

“Whilst we will benefit from the deliberations of some of the invited Western academics at the conference, it would be good if we had invited some media academics from the local universities to share the stage and speak of their local experiences and hopes for the future of Malaysian media,” he said.

HAWANA 2024, themed “Etika Teras Kewartawanan Mapan”, is the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists, and the highlight of the celebration will be officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 27.

It is organised by the Communication Ministry in collaboration with the Sarawak state government, with Bernama as the implementing agency.

HAWANA was first held in the federal capital in 2018, followed by subsequent celebrations in Melaka (2022) and Perak (2023).

The date of May 29 was chosen as National Journalists’ Day to commemorate the first publication of the Utusan Melayu newspaper on May 29, 1939. 






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