Fans: Difference of opinion not licence to bully

KUALA LUMPUR – It appears that of late, sports writers too have become the unwitting target of over-zealous fans who lose their cool when their favourite athlete is criticised in a report or when the player is lambasted on social media fuelled by media reports.

Of course, as ‘die-hard fans’, they hope that the athletes receive words of encouragement from the media even following below-par performances.

However, even though a match report is not to one’s liking, it is not a licence for fans to launch blistering attacks in the media or launch a personal vendetta against the reporter on social media.

Recently, a local journalist was ‘attacked’ by fans following reports on the defeat of the country’s professional men’s singles badminton player Lee Zii Jia (picture) in the second round of the Malaysian Open at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

There were unfair postings or ‘bullying’ by heartless netizens on Twitter to the point of threatening the safety of the journalist’s family, where an image of the reporter and his family members was also made viral.

Sharing his experience of being taunted by fans on Facebook previously, Sports Writers Association of Malaysia (SAM) executive committee member Ahmad Fazli Mohd Yadi said he had to shut down his account and it took a year to overcome the trauma.

“I got a death threat, then the netizen took a screenshot of my personal information and spread it. At the time I was not afraid for myself, but rather of something (bad) happening to my family,” the former sports journalist of Kosmo newspaper told Bernama.

Ahmad Fazli, who is also the Malaysian Football League’s (MFL) media manager said journalists could accept criticism if their writing was not good, but dissatisfaction did not mean netizens could use it as a licence to bully or intimidate.

Sharing a similar experience was Harian Metro football journalist Firdaus Hashim who said in one instance, his picture with family members was edited or altered to ridicule them.

“It is an inappropriate and unacceptable act because it can tarnish the dignity of the family members who are innocent and have nothing to do with my work.

“(It was an unpleasant) experience for me, not to say (it pushed me into) depression, but there was a period when I felt distraught and my motivation to work suffered,” said Firdaus who has been a journalist for more than 10 years.

He said fans or netizens had the right to have their say on social media platforms, but they should uphold decency and respect when expressing their views.

“Without journalists, it is difficult for the public to get accurate and authentic news, so netizens need to act more professionally and not get carried away by their emotions,” he added. – Bernama / pic credit: Lee Zii Jia FB