By giving the the impression that Claudia Theophilus and her Lebanese colleagues were being irresponsible (by “playing with guns”), Bernama is effectively slandering the deceased, an outstanding journalist, with an unsubstantiated insinuation, writes Citizen Observer.
Claudia Theophilus’s death is a very sad and tragic loss, not only for family and all who knew and worked with her, but to the public at large. A responsible journalist who takes her work seriously and the risks to unearth the truth belongs to the crème de la crème of journalists.
The mainstream media, sourcing reports from Bernama, quoted that news agency verbatim saying that she and her colleagues were “playing with guns” during her short break in Lebanon. Many of the online dailies, including Al-Jazeera, whilst using the same quote, refrained from commenting or even reporting on the circumstances that tragically brought this larger-than-life journalist down. At this stage, investigations by the Lebanese police are still ongoing and no one really knows what happened.
Yet, for Bernama to give the impression that Claudia and her Lebanese colleagues were being irresponsible or possibly engaging in ‘militant’ type activities (“playing with guns”) is to slander the dead. I had the privilege of meeting Claudia on one occasion a few years ago and the impression I had of her personality was that she was a very calm, confident and friendly person. For Bernama to imply that she was by nature irresponsible and egotistically reckless, is probably, one of the biggest fallacies which may be seen as intentionally spreading false news and smearing the good name of a person who cannot now respond to such an unsubstantiated insinuation.
Making this insinuation against someone who cannot defend herself is the action of a coward, like those who attack women and helpless children who are physically weaker than themselves. In contrast, many of Claudia’s colleagues, past and present, have paid tribute to her as they express their grief at her untimely demise.
Jumping the gun, when investigations are still incomplete and family, friends and colleagues are still in shock at her unexpected death, inevitably raises speculation as to the circumstances in which this apparently “accidental death” occurred.
Bernama, which holds itself up as Malaysia’s national news agency, of similar standing with media organisations like Reuters, Al-Jazeera and AFP, has again embarrassed Malaysia by jumping to conclusions and publishing speculative, low quality and possibly false news like a gutter newspaper that is not worth the paper or website it is written on. Arguably, this is not the first piece of gutter reporting published by this so-called news agency.
Deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Claudia Theophilus. May she rest in peace.
Citizen Observer is the pseudonym of a concerned media observer.