Today’s front page of the Malay Mail is a regrettable example of gutter journalism. It features a headline story about nude photos of a Selangor female politician circulating in the public domain.
The photos were believed to be taken using a camera phone without her consent by a former boyfriend while she was sleeping.
“The Malay Mail played dirty by putting a picture of a bare-backed woman next to the story,” said one political analyst, who described it as “gutter politics”.
On the front cover, an unrelated photo of a bare-backed female Formula One driver on the right is staring towards the left at the bold headline of the Selangor nude photos story, “Fury over bedroom invasion”.
Apart from the juxtapositioning of an unrelated picture next to a sensationalist story, the choice of front-page story is revealing.
We are being struck by probably the greatest global economic downturn since the Great Depression – and some are predicting that it could be worse than that. Manufacturing and exports are nose-diving, workers are being laid off, others are struggling to cope with the high cost of living. Many ordinary people are suffering.
That’s not all. The Selangor state government is in the midst of crucial negotiations to take over water assets from private concessionaires who are eyeing a tariff hike. Perak is experiencing a major constitutional crisis.
None of these merits front page coverage in the Malay Mail, which instead has other priorities in its bid to sell more newspapers.
Disclosure: I contributed a few stories to the Malay Mail during last August’s Permatang Pauh by-election upon their request.