On Saturday (3rd September), it was reported that a baby boy was found by a dog and its barking alerted its 16-year-old owner, who saved the baby. The newborn was found in a drain at Jinjang Selatan.
Most news outlets reported the sensational story with similar headlines such as “Dog alerts owner to dumped baby” (The Star) and “聞狗吠聲出外查探 中學生跳溝救棄嬰 (Translation: High school student jumped down drain to save baby after hearing dog’s loud bark)”(China Press).
But one Facebook user known as Francis Poh pointed out that Harian Metro put out a misleading headline, which reads “Nyaris dibaham anjing” (Translation: Almost devoured by dog), in their report about the event. Keep in mind that the baby is safe and he is currently receiving treatment at Selayang hospital.
Francis, who is an animal rights activist himself, took to Facebook to share his thoughts about the headline. In his caption, he wrote, “Irregardless the truth, i believe as a reporter, one must hold principle of being truthful, accurate, and integrity for what will be written as millions of Malaysians could be reading one of them”.
In the comments, he also added that he hopes that media outlets will stop defaming voiceless animals to sell stories. As at time of writing, his post has been shared over 2,000 times.
Upon reading the viral post, netizens jumped to the dog’s defense, saying that Harian Metro shouldn’t write such headlines to boost their readership. Meanwhile, some netizens suggested that the newspaper is being “biased” due to religion.
“This has nothing to do with the media outlet or what it ‘has become’. The article is merely a reflection of the writer’s prejudice against dogs.”
“Tragedy and drama sells… order of the day in this time & age… the masses love absurdities that strike up their curiosity.”
“If it’s a cat, metro will write “kucing hero selamatkan bayi.” (Translation: Cat hero saves baby)
Our take? Well, we don’t know what the true intentions of the journalist who wrote the headline were, but like what Francis mentioned in his post, we also believe that reporters/journalists/writers have the responsibility to be truthful and accurate.
What do you think about Harian Metro’s headline? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!