Pope Francis’ Message on Fake News and Peace for Journalism

The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge; people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language. If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news. In today’s world, theirs is, in every sense, not just a job; it is a mission

Message of his Holiness Pope Francis, For World Communications Day, 24 January 2018

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Exposing the truth; Strengthening democracy

The Role of the Media in Philippine Society

By tradition, the media is considered as the voice of the people, the watchdog against government, the biggest obstacle to big business and the vanguard against groups with questionable social interests. Throughout history, media organizations have used pen and ink, sound, pictures and the Internet to advance the cause of the oppressed, the neglected and the forgotten.

In a developing democracy such as the Philippines, the role of the mass media is crucial in ensuring that the interests of the general public are protected against abuses of some of officials of government, exploitation by some commercial entities and manipulation by certain interest groups. Continue reading

The Election (circus) is in town

Supporters of PDP Laban candidate for President Rodrigo Duterte and Nationalista Party candidate for Vice President Alan Peter Cayetano await the arrival of the tandem at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Both were invited to CNN Philippines's Town Hall. Photo by KIM Quilinguing.
Supporters of PDP Laban candidate for President Rodrigo Duterte and Nationalista Party candidate for Vice President Alan Peter Cayetano await the arrival of the tandem at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Both were invited to CNN Philippines’s Town Hall. Photo by KIM Quilinguing.

Election season in the Philippines is often described by many to be akin to a circus. With all the colorful campaign paraphernalia, the flamboyant attire of candidates and supporters going about earning the confidence of voters, and all the lively exchanges between political bets on the media, one can easily gather an assessment of vibrant atmosphere the country and its people often find themselves every three years.

While it is difficult to find fault on which group is responsible for the sad state that politics, particularly the elections, have become in the country, how it is now perceived by the average Filipino, as being rowdy, full of hypocrisy, and even as a source of amusement, is shaped by how it is seen on television, reported on the radio and written on the newspapers. Continue reading

Reflections on media killings

A member of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) prepares to process the scene of the Maguindanao Massacre in November 2009. Photo from Japan Times (Photo from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/asia-pacific/crime-legal-asia-pacific/old-wounds-still-fester-anniversary-philippines-worst-massacre/#.VWO4rE-qqkp)
A member of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) prepares for processing the scene of the Maguindanao Massacre in November 2009. Photo from Japan Times.

Growing up with a journalist father has always given me an idea of how risky the profession has been, particularly in the regional or local areas, where political and commercial interests hold sway over how journalists conduct themselves.

Despite those interests, I have also seen my father pursuing stories which he viewed to be necessary for the public good and for the creation of a more just and equitable society. And it was by his example that when I eventually went into journalism where dedication to ferreting out the truth and exerting efforts to balance stories became important aspects in the conduct of the profession.

Still my idealism then, when I went into the profession, was tempered by the reality that journalists in the country can easily be killed. And no amount of beautiful epithets or eulogies can bring back the lives of journalists murdered because of their devotion to revealing the truth. Continue reading

Between journalism and journalism

“First step in solving any problem, is recognizing there is one.” – Will McAvoy

Short as this line maybe, but it has stuck with me since I first watched The Newsroom. And although I might be watching the season finale in a few hours, I think this line will stay with me long after the series’s first season is done.

I must be honest though, I was not among those who waited for the season premier. And this was due to the words of critics who were not impressed with the first episode. But I decided to watch it anyway and that’s where I got hooked.

I’ve had my share of Sorkin films and series since then. A Few Good Men inspired me (partly) to go into law school. I tried to watch the West Wing as much as I could. And of course, Charlie Wilson’s War will always be my quick recommendation to someone who’s still in the dark as to how the American government saved and nourished Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Newsroom is Sorkin’s indictment of the prevailing state of journalism or the lack of it. In the series he tried attacking how the newsrooms succumbed to the pressure exerted by ratings wars, management intrusions, and bastardization of editorial independence. He also tried to differentiate between journalism and journalism.

Continue reading

The Newsroom

Looks like I will be having a new TV series to follow. I had my reservations at first after coming across some negative reviews. But when I saw the first episode, I felt like it was a show I could very much relate to. This reminds me of days and nights in the newsrooms and TOCs.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

I have not been able to post anything from my time spent in Cagayan de Oro. Although I spent the long weekend there for the feast of the city’s patron saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, and for much needed time with my family, I hardly had time to write down anything here. Probably because I spent most of the time talking with my parents, my siblings and Agnes. And whatever little time was left was spent on playing Facebook games.

But being that there were several thoughts which accumulated during the four-day break, I would like to put them down before they become a burden to my work back here in Quezon City. These thoughts have been going in and out of my mind and I thought I should get over them by having them shackled by letters and lines here.

It saddened me how my father has lost the love for writing and teaching what he knows about journalism to little kids. He has also decided to do away with his involvements with a mall and a local government unit in our area. My mother tells me that he lost his drive when he saw his articles being used by someone else who did nothing but insert a by line. And that someone had the audacity to post the articles online and tag my father. Dumb? Yes! That person obviously cannot come up with write ups as good as those made by my father and so, she got so envious, she had to put in her name and present them to her employer in the hope of gaining his favor.

Yeah, such human beings exist and I also have had my experience with those.

I had an editor who liked to paint me as incompetent and yet steal the lines from the articles I submitted and put in his name in the by line. Yes, his name alone. Yes, some people can be that brazen. And all because he thought that since he added a paragraph, changed a line or two, and went over the article time and again, he already had the power to claim it as his own (while making my superiors believe that I did not submit anything).

I could not fathom why these kind of persons actually exist and call themselves journalists. Probably they never had their glory days when they were still in the streets. Or probably their egos were so big they thought it would be nice to get employed as an editor without first being a reporter. And yet they still longed for the recognition and acclaim that reporters get (which editors don’t). Egos… It’s all about their egos.

I had been an editor myself and it was no easy feat. I was an editor for regional news in a TV broadcast company which ran stations from as far north as Cagayan Valley to as far south as Davao City. And it was my duty back then to scour the advisories from these stations and decide which ones to use as lobby chips for slots in the national news programs.

And whenever the stories are chosen, I always try to make the effort of getting the reporter to do the package instead of presenting them myself even if it was I who wrote the Tagalog or English scripts for reports which were in the local regional language. I always thought that it would be important to exercise the old rule that we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

Of course, it’s different when the reporter waives his ownership over his story and gives me the go signal to claim the report; or if the senior desks and producers are such in a hurry that there is no more time to arrange for the reporter to voice the report himself. Where there was time, I usually passed it to the local reporter who gathered the story. That is his story. That is his moment. That is his piece of fine journalism.

But then again, maybe concepts such as attribution, appreciation of hard work and respect are gone for people like the “journalists” I described above. Maybe it is their egos which matter more to them than self-respect, self-worth and simple decency.

It is odd though that these egotistic “journalists” are usually the ones who act in public as if they are the epitome of the classical practitioner of the profession. As if they have done so much in the profession and accomplished so much that they should be held in high esteem. And yet, they continue to exploit the labors of others, claim it as their own, and feed their wanting selves.

I view these pitiful creatures as the scum of the profession, if not the earth. It is these individuals who drive people like my father, away from that with which they have dedicated their lives. They take away the souls of writers, the intergrity of journalists, and the dignity of the being. God have mercy on their person but I pray, and at the risk of sounding vindictive, that they be scourged by the heavens and that the fates would exact from their a suffering so painful they would regret they were even born.