Revon Media Sdn Bhd Managing Editor Datuk Johnson Fernandez’s contribution to journalism was recognised not once, but twice, in December 2022.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Journalism by the Hyderabad-based St Mother Theresa University (SMTU) on Dec 17, just nine days after he received the Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang, which carries the title Datuk, on Dec 8.
Johnson, 65, said December had been kind to him and deemed them early Christmas presents. “I never expected either award. It is an honour to get one from the King, and special to be recognised by a foreign university.
“This is another honour I accept on behalf of all Malaysian journalists, especially since the recognition comes from a foreign entity.”
Johnson was among the first of four Malaysians to be given the prestigious Award by SMTU. The other three were Raymond Chin (Honorary Doctorate in Social Entrepreneurship & Community Services), P. Applannaidoo (Honorary Doctorate in Martial Arts & Humanitarian Services) and Datin Dr Nor Hafizah Ismail (Professor of Practice).
They received their awards from Prof Dr R. Vijaya Saraswathy, the University’s Founder and Pro-Vice Chancellor in Kuala Lumpur.
“I hope the doctorate will make people realise that good journalism can make a difference,” said Johnson, who served with the National Echo (1979-82), The Star (1982-87) and The Malay Mail (1987-2003).
He was The Malay Mail Sports Editor from 1998-2003. In 1994, he received the Sports Journalist of the Year Award. He was also the General Secretary of the Asian Sports Press Union (ASPU) and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) committee member.
He has covered major sporting events such as the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was feared for his weekly columns. Royalty, cabinet ministers, high rollers, business tycoons, officials, administrators, and athletes felt the brunt when he penned his thoughts.
But he also gave credit where credit was due. “I have always been fair in my reporting and commentaries. If someone does something good, I would say so and would encourage them to do better.
“Similarly, if an official or player fails to perform, I would call them out. It does not matter who they are. My criticism is fair and balanced.
“All I wanted was to do my job as diligently as possible and write without fear or favour,” said Johnson, who was the only Malaysian journalist invited to speak at the 2010 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva. – The Health