Friday, April 28, 2006

Hyperventilating over a doomsday scenario

If we are to go by media reports, it looks like everyone is not only gearing up for a major showdown on May 1; everyone is raring for it. And media is all agog with anticipation.

Media of course has its handy excuse for doing cartwheels to cover the minutest detail of how the militants and the government are preparing for the showdown: the public needs to know (apparently the public is that perverse, we want advance information on how they intend to clobber each other in the streets). Clearly, ABS-CBN intends to devote full coverage of the expected May 1 mayhem and they have started justifying their intent in their latest sermon on the role of media featuring Maria Ressa, Chari Villa and Luchie Cruz, the gist of which can be summed up in six words: we are always correct, of course.

I can understand the preoccupation on how the latest Supreme Court ruling on CPR will play out on May 1. But analysis is one thing, prophesizing, nay, anticipating mayhem is another thing. Excitement is still another thing. Based on the treatment and spin being given to the various reportage, one gets the impression that media is not merely interested in how proponents of a particular position see how things will turn out; but more on how bloody it can or will get. Note how the reportage has been focused on doomsday scenarios. Media is skating on very very thin ice on this one and I hope that some semblance of social responsibility (other than just reporting things as they happen as the three ladies of ABS-CBN wants us to believe) seeps in soon.

I understand media's role as chronicler of events. But I don't get the "passive unbiased witness stance." Who are we kidding?

Let's remind ourselves of one tragic incident in the eighties that continues to baffle me to this day. The incident happened one Sunday afternoon at Luneta during a rally of the Marcos loyalists. One Coryista (unfortunately I have forgotten his name) was pursued by the mob of Marcos loyalists and beaten to death while media covered the lynching, down to his last breath. Too many TV cameras and mediamen supposedly doing their social responsibility, and no one raised a finger to help the dying guy. No one, not a single one, remembered that they were citizens too watching another Filipino die a violent senseless death. They were just there as media.

I am not asking that media do not report on what is happening or that it gives a positive spin to events. I just wish that media tempers its excitement - because quite frankly, an event where and when Filipinos hurt each other can never be a cause for celebration. I just want to see an attempt to balance the doomsday scenario reportage with, for example, appeals for sobriety from some cooler heads, or features on possible consensus points, or just plain tempering of their frenzied hyperventilating.

Or perhaps this is what passes off for news reportage nowadays?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ethics of the Philippine media? Every media practitioner don't practise it. Even the KBP has no teeth to implement it. As long as they can sensationalize it the better.

Anonymous said...

Sir, I think our local media , specially ABS-CBN has been sick with "messianic syndrome" for some time now, they trully believed that they are above us all and all they see and say are 100% correct so we should not question them...they kept on dwelling on the negative side of the current administration...but when the administration started to defend itself ...they all "rant" on the Freedom of the press ...all they want is one-way target shooting..they can't take it two-way!

You know what I think, ABS-CBN hates this admin guts to the bones because their business plans via the marriage for convinience of Erap daugther and Beaver L. did not pushed thru when People Power 2 came in to place...ABS-CBN wants ERAP back in Malacanang so they will be back in power on the business arena...It's purely self interest! In another note, what happened to the Wowowee criminal case vs ABS-CBN now?

benign0 said...

I've taken issue so many times with the self-righteousness of the Philippine media and the victim card they always play to create or, more commonly now, incite public perception that freedom is continuously threatened by the "forces of authoritarianism".

I dare speculate that a large chunk of the angst displayed in Manila's streets during bouts of street parliamentarianism is created and/or stirred up by the Philippine media.

It needs to be pointed out that with this "freedom" being wielded by the media comes responsibility. I wrote a piece in an attempt to point out this self-righteousness of media and how quickly it overlooks its own transgressions of basic human rights. Notably:

Disrespect for the deceased and their families. Uncovered corpses are a regular feature on the pages of many Philippine publications.

Publication of biased news features as part of paid services rendered to politicians' publicists.

Public humiliation of crime suspects pre-trial. This is common fare in the Philipine press and goes against the basic human right of presumed innocence until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...

No matter how much they try to fudge it, it is clear to most of the public that ABS-CBN will do anything to put down the present administration. I wish their anchormen and radio commentators would just try to be more honest and sincere and openly say they don't like GMA. Then whatever message they try to convey would be more credible.
Stop your 'pa-cute'stances. The public is not dumb as you think.

pinoy said...

i've also observed that media has allowed itself to be used by rallyists. often, there are these small groups holding a rally maybe around 20 individuals. the last one I saw was the one held of DOJ. these rallyist where mouthing a lot of words against Sec. Gonzales. there was supposedly tomato throwing but not caught on camera. this is a very small group and yet media, at least tv, made news out of it.

some protesters wearing masks or something then lie on the street. have their photos taken even if they are not more than twenty. they land on the front page simply for their antics.

media makes news out of non news and creates that "puro na lang rally" atmosphere while the rallyists get their free propaganda, primetime news na, front page pa.

Rhochie said...

And still, like watching a train wreck, we can't help but be glued to the television or radio waiting for the next juicy update.

Media outlets are partly to blame, but so are we. Perhaps it's our voyeuristic tendencies that egg these networks on.

Gone are the days when a big portion of the news airtime is filled with relevent items: business news, international news, sports and the weather.

Now, we are treated to a bizarre array of captured reptiles, showbiz news and clips from "Amazing Videos Caught on Tape", with the obligatory 'feel-good' segments where the networks show that they have a heart(soul) by helping a poor individual (where they also ask for donations from the viewers).

And here's the punchline: we still watch them every night, read the paper every day, and listen to them in between.

Going back to topic: The quality of local journalists has gone down over the years, perhaps it wasn't so good at all.

Taga_Iyam said...

I am just hoping that whatever happens Monday, May 1......will not be violent. Listening to ABS-CBN's ANC because that is the only one I can get in my Filipino channels.....it sure sounds scary.

Matapos na nga lang ang May 1, para natatapos na rin ang kanilang nga predictions,

james said...

hogwash! These 3 ladies indeed want us to believe that we can't live a day wihtout their very informative coverage.
They should instead examine why their revenue is getting meager each year.
while the other network is earning 1 billion plus pesos last year they only managed to have some 200 million.
Maybe less of Escudero,Pimentel,Erap, Cory,Dinky,Alcuaz,Jinggoy,Saguisag,Gingona and Ejercito in their screen could improve their ratings.

Anonymous said...

Im CAllING ALL TFC GLOBAL subscriber to teach this ABS-CBN a lesson for what they intent to do with our country IS TO CANCEL OUR SUBSCRIBTION TO TFC NOW!!! without us TFC, they will learn with their action>>>PLEASE PASS it on.......and just publish it when we will do it and call for cancellation for TFC++++

hrm said...

Talking about TFC, it is always embarrassing moments whenever I am in the West Coast Area and viewing it with other compatriots and native Americans. It never fails to give you a dose of those gory killing, mayhems. crimes and the others of the same genres. You can feel that my hosts and their guests were trying to be courteous to me by not making comments but you can see their body language showing they do not enjoy the whole thing. Either that or a slew of politcians ranting and taking advantage of the footages they get even if they don't talk of anything of sense. Mostly self serving statements to enhance their candidacies in the next election.
Yes, I agree. The quality of journalism we have nowadays is far cry from those of yesteryear. And the networks just do their things in the name of rating. The sensibilities of the public be damned.

james said...

Bong

Don't you think its the right time we start campaigning for the abolition of the useless senate? The reasons are getting clearer. They are trying hard enough to make themselves irrelevant.

James