#WPFD Farah Marshita Abdul Patah: "If the general public understands the important role of the media as a watchdog, there would be greater press freedom "

Farah Marshita Abdul Patah is a journalist working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She started her career in journalism in 2009 with Malaysia’s leading media house, Media Prima. Farah currently serves as President of the National Union Journalists Malaysia (NUJM) and is the chair of the NUJ branch at New Straits Times Press (NSTP)

Credit: IFJ Journalist Farah Marshita Abdul Patah

1) What is your biggest concern for press freedom in your country?

"Our growing concerns are laws that restrict journalists both accessing information and getting that information out to the public. There is a general lack of cooperation from various sectors and organisations that impacts on the work we do. If the general public understands the important role of media, especially as a watchdog, then perhaps there would be greater press freedom".

 2) What are your daily challenges as a journalist?

"Sourcing information is always difficult. Currently there is too much red tape and too many bureaucratic hurdles. For example, when chasing information, we often need to write letters, wait for approval, contact the head of communications and get approval from their bosses.  If it’s on a controversial issue, chances are we might not get it. These barriers lead to delays in getting information out or the information we report on is not complete. Another challenge is the negative public perceptions of the media. Some of these perceptions are due to media ownership. Often media are perceived as biased and associated with their owners or shareholders".

3) What are the most important stories to cover right now?

"Right now, COVID-19. Particularly in relation to  health and public policy and how the government is handling the health crisis". 

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