Media Abuse

JOURNALIST TELLS the truth.  Powers-that-be get furious.  Powers-that-be hire assassins.  Journalist is murdered.  Public outrage follows.

One hopes, dear karikna, that the sequence is always as simple when a member of the media falls, but, sadly, there are complications.

One is tempted to say that media is to be blamed, too, for making the Philippines one of the top three most dangerous countries for journalists in the world (along with Iraq and Somalia), and Ilocos Norte a killing field for members of the Fourth Estate.  Corruption, impropriety, and unprofessional behavior cloud the practice of journalism here and in other parts.

Ergo, the death of a journalist is not always an attack against the truth.  It could also be a screaming statement against lies, spins, and half-truths, which are even more dangerous than lies.  A media worker wields tremendous power, which, if used irresponsibly, could backfire, and with fatal results.

There is no justifying though the ruthless killings of journalists which, from 1986, now number 137, 104 of which transpired under the Arroyo regime.  Not even the shadiest journalist deserves to be at the mercy of an assassin.  We have very strong libel laws to punish a malicious blabbermouth, and to redeem the dignity of an aggravated fellow.  In a supposedly civilized, democratic society such as ours, there is just no room for motorcycle-riding, gun-firing cowards.

The rampage should stop even as the truth must always be pursued.  This is not always easy because the world hates those who speak of inconvenient truths.  Socrates, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Jose Rizal, media men and women who did their craft with untainted integrity, and other martyrs of freedom and democracy know this very well.  However, when a journalist goes overboard, commits abuses, and gets killed because of it, it is not heroism, it is self-destruction.

Conrado de Quiros, in a speech he delivered to the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication graduates last April, outlined, in a manner no human being could have done better, serious dilemmas journalists face in their line of work.  More than assassins, it turns out, it is one’s own self that one should watch closely, and constantly be wary against.  Portions of the speech read:

“You have a chasm between power wielded and pay wanted, that chasm will be bridged by corruption. In theory, with much power comes much responsibility. In practice, with much power comes much extortion. I suspect that the darker nights of the soul you will face will not be those where you ask yourself if accepting a risk is worth it but those where you ask yourself if rejecting a bribe is worth it. That is so if you are serious about being a journalist. If you are not, it’s easy: Just avoid the risk and take the bribe.

“I myself have always admired the journalists outside of Metro Manila who have managed to be brave and clean. That is so because life outside Metro Manila puts the choice more starkly to journalists. Be principled and you could die, be unprincipled and you could get rich. It takes a lot more for the journalist outside Metro Manila than for the one inside it to be a serious journalist. But the accomplishment is all the greater when they rise to it. And the grief is all the fiercer when they are felled by it.

“As journalists you will come face to face with the rich and powerful, who are the natural subjects of your profession, and the infinite danger is not that they might become your enemies but that they might become your friends.

“Easy to deal with enemies, not so easy to deal with friends.  I do not now recall the American journalist I read a long time ago who warned about the dangers of getting too close to your subjects you can no longer see them objectively. Which poses a quandary, because if you do not get close to them, you won’t be able to make scoops about them, but if you get too close to them, you might not be able to tell the truth about them. How to balance closeness and distance, friendship and objectivity, familiarity and contempt? It’s not easy. The American journalist himself advises not being friends with them at all.

“Indeed, ours is a culture where criticisms are taken very very personally, with dire consequences, the least of them being the proverbial sulian ng kandila, or the revoking of the bonds forged by kumparehan.  …The only real friends you have are those you can disagree with violently but who will continue to hold you dear.

“What can I say? We know the famous aphorism from “The Godfather,” which comes from Sun Tzu: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.” If you’re planning to be a journalist, I can only add: Keep your enemies far, and your friends even farther.”

I have never befriended any politician.  If there is one I could consider almost-a-friend, it would be Kris Ablan, not at all because he is a politician, but only because he is a truly decent and well-meaning man.  And yet I occasionally write things which are not exactly flattering to Kris, and a gazillion times less flattering to his father, but he continues to hold me with respect.  Any human being would be lucky to have such friend.

In more than one occasion, dear karikna, I have been approached by politicians to write for them.  There’s a wide space for my name in their payroll, I was told.  Herdy would have felt happy, for who does not want more money? But no, Herdy felt insulted.  Herdy is not for sale.

Perhaps it was easier for me to refuse because writing is not the source of my bread and butter (and SanMig Light).  Cheesy as it may sound, I write because it is my passion, I write because it is my vocation.  But, most importantly, I write because there is something to write.

It would have been more difficult if I were a starving writer.  Temptations to prostitute my craft would have been stronger.  I look at colleagues who extort or accept bribes, not with high eyebrows of condemnation, but with flashes of compassion.  In most cases though, some journalists play the dirty money game not much because they need to, but simply because there is something to collect.  Greed, like bottomless iced tea, knows no limits.

Fame, too, can blur good judgment, such as when the media worker feels he has become as important as his subjects.  He then acts as kingmaker, and that is if he has not decided to be king himself.

Bloated egos notwithstanding, some journalists lack competencies and proper training.  There are broadcasters, for example, who try to compensate poor analysis and shallow insight with the use of offensive language.  The subjects are raged while the public are insulted and shortchanged.  Enlightenment becomes more elusive than before they spoke.

Journalist tells the truth.  Powers-that-be get furious.  Powers-that-be hire assassins.  Journalist is murdered.  Public outrage follows.

It’s complicated.

37 Comments

Filed under Media, Media/Journalism

37 responses to “Media Abuse

  1. Kris Ablan

    Hi, Herdy. Thanks for your friendship.

    I do hope that the five pillars of the criminal justice system would come together and do something about the rampant killings of journalists because it really has to stop.

    I find it appalling that there was no outrage over the death of Lito Agustin. I’m afraid that what I feared actually came true–that we, as a community, have been desensitized. I feel it has come to a point that we sometimes even rationalize it (“Oh, he deserved it, etc.”). Good or bad, no person deserves his life to be taken away from him without due process.

    I hope under this new administration, cops become honest, prosecutors become zealous to their cases, judges become fairer, and justice be swift. So that extra-judicial killings would eventually stop, or at the least lessen.

    Keep safe, Herdy.

  2. tita lita

    it is just sooo sad when this happens specially when they leave young babies behind .but it is even worse when the kids are already grown ups and know what is going on. it is instilled in their minds as they grow up hating people around them and people in power .there are times that these kids will need therapy just to mend them emotionally for losing their dads .on this fathers day i take this opportunity to greet all fathers happy fathers day..give your dads a big hug and tell him you love him …who knows this will be the last one..i use to do that to my dad…may he rest in peace…happy fathers day dad.butterfly kisses!!

  3. DEL

    Journalist tells the truth. — this is somewhat true in the old days, but it is no longer applicable today. Journalists spread rumors, then they reluctantly seek for the truth. This is not an opinion but a fact. You are a journalist yourself and you know that. Proof is, reporters interview someone, make it as a news, then let the concerned person answer allegiations that have been spread. Before, journalist interview someone, go to the subject and get their side and air the report. This is again a fact. Proof? Try to listen at a local radio in laoag. Someone will send an allegiation via text message. The reporter, or anchor read it on air, make comments siding that text sender and ask the subject to call to answer the allegiation. This should not be the case, the reporter must not make comments after reading the allegiation, call the subject to ask for his answer, and give him the equal opportunity to give his side. Another thing, in a national television. Reporters deliver their news, but before closing, he inject his opinion. News reports should be based on facts, opinions should be delegated to commentary programs.

    You also said that our libel laws are strong, but I say its totally weak. Why? In order to have a case, the person libeled must have a strong case, i.e., ALL the provision that constitute libel should be met, not just ONE or TWO but ALL. And there are loopholes, journalists may use runaround in order to avoid libelous comments, wherein in fact, they tend to libel or destroy reputation. Kris Ablan can vouch this, he is a lawyer, and a political figure. He’s been a subject.

    And you even quoted de Quiros. My gulay, he is a propagandist masquerading as journalist (Sorry Atty. Jurado, I borrowed your line). In the world of journalism, this is unethical.

  4. De Quiros is a commentary columnist and as such he comments, make opinions on his subject/s. He’s got a load of writing flair with deep eloquent vocabularies in English, French, Latin and whatever else, making me and some ardent readers mesmerized in awe on his knowledge of other languages. But, I assent on your observation (as well as Atty. Jurado’s) that he could also be a propagandist masquerading as a journalist. He does well to attract attention on his hard-line commentaries that his column is a most-read article, per Inquirer.net on-line readership.

  5. DEL

    He does well in attracting readers for two reasons. First, people delve on negativism, and they love to read what ever he writes against the government. Second, people who hate what he is writing read it also because they might be the one on the defensive when his pen is stroke.

    Another thing is, he is well loved by the owners of the newspaper where he writes. Take his case and the case of belinda cunanan. Cunanan was axed because of his pro Arroyo/Government stance. Here’s a quote from the paper “Yambot said the meetings were meant to remind the columnists that while the Inquirer welcomed political engagement, columnists needed to keep to professional limits.” The question is, how about de Quiros?

    • You might be on the other side of the fence, and I understand if you do not enjoy what he writes about, but HOW he writes is no doubt superb, lyrical, magical, sometimes even goosebumps-ey. He is the quintessential wordsmith.

      On Cunanan, good riddance! What a waste of Inquirer space for Gloria’s apologist. There are no redeeming factors either, no wow on the writing prowess.

  6. De Quiros is writing on an opinion column, ergo, he writes his opinions on issues with some help on the facts he may have, have read from other writer/s or reporter/s. As it is, I am also writing on my own opinion in which case, I opined that he is truly a wordsmith (if I may borrow your vocabulary, sir Herdy…) and that I, as well as other ardent readers, admire him for. If only I got half his skills, I may want to try writing a book, be a ghost writer to powers-that-be (I’ve done some only for friends), or what else possible.

  7. Hey, Herdy, nice picture you have during the Indignation Rally Against Media Killings! You look like Adam Jamal Craig of NCIS:LA. LoL!!!

  8. guiengarma

    When some people would know that I want to be a broadcaster, they ask, “Are you sure? It’s a ‘deadly’ job.” I say, “Speaking is quite my specialization. And I feel that this is the best job for me.”

    About the issue of journalists telling the truth before but not quite now, I saw this video [http://youtu.be/qpVTUdfcEMg] about the most generic news report on TV.

    • Guien, the risks are amplified when you are a corrupt and irresponsible journalist. With proper training, you can at least mitigate the possible dangers.

      I believe you will be a good one. You have skills, sincerity, and vision.

  9. rc

    i agree that being a journalist is so complicated.I think it is a matter of sacrifice in their part because as we saw them at the television, we saw their diligence and braveness in broadcasting news. Just for example , the hostage taking, the media put their lives in a delicate situation. So we see how brave they are ! i salute to them.

  10. Batman

    I am of great respect with regards to media people, not only for their sacrifices but also for their undying passion to public service. Those people who abuse it must be taken immediate action. Now I am afraid, that the Philippines have a significantly high number of media men that is being killed in a year. Because of their exposition of truth they were abused. I feel bad.

  11. ra

    its very sad about the killings of journalist.,, i can’t believe that they have the courage to kill people.,. im very disappointed that the philippines is top 3 worldwide for dangerous countries for journalist., i wish that this will be stop ., I hope that there would have an appropriate punishment for those liable for the killings of the journalist.

  12. sherwin fernandez

    in fairness to our media they are bravely enough because they sacrifice themselves to broadcast comprehensive news even though it is complicated and putting themselves in danger. in order to stop that media killings there will immediate condemn and action/response to leaders because we know that they working not other purposes other than the future of their family…

  13. ian

    Journalist are heroes,why? because they are risking their life to published the things that are going in our country whether it is good or bad. Nowadays many of our journalist are being killed because they tell the truth about politicians that are abusing their powers as an official. The family of the journalists are seeking for the truth,justice must prevail!!!!no man can take a mans life..only God can take back our life..telling the truth makes the journalist life in danger,even if its the nature in our country it must be stopped. Im proud of our journalist for risking their own life for us to know the real happenings in our world…

  14. tc

    Most of us want media men to be brave, principled, honest and clean. But they usually deal with the rich and powerful who are the natural subjects of their profession. Some of these subjects are good and some are evil. Sad to say that the evil powers, great to get furious when truth and criticisms about themselves published, so they hire assassins to kill those media men who became their enemies. Some media men prostitute their craft. They play dirty money games and extort to satisfy their creed of money. Those journalists also die when they begin to abuse their tremendous power. So most media that are not serious in their work and somewhat cowardice just avoid the risk and take the bribe to be safe and get rich as per article. I prefer most of us want to be brave, honest and clean media men.

  15. deo

    Media abuse….The one who tells the truth will be the one who will face death early.That is according to my observation.Yes,some journalist are not telling the truth in their reports sometimes.But why do they do these?Because they are protecting somebody(politicians,jueteng lords,etc.).They are doing this so that they will live longer.But most journalist are are telling the truth no matter how big the names that they will encounter,they still have guts to continue telling what is right.They are doing this for the people.So I salute the journalist s for their bravery.They are doing this not only because its their job but because they are doing these for the people and our country.

  16. lollipop

    I salute all the journalists and broadcasters for doing their job well. Mahirap talaga ang kanilang trabaho dahil nakataya ang buhay nila dito. Konting pagkakamali nila sa kanilang ginagawa o sinasabi ay magbibigay mitsa sa kanilang buhay. Pero may mga pasaway ding mga taga media na inaabuso nila ang kanilang awtoridad na magsulat at ito’y nagdudulot ng mas malalang problema sa ating bansa. Gayunpaman, sana ay matigil na ang pagpatay sa mga taga media. Dahil ginagawa lang naman nila ang kanilang trabaho. ^__^

  17. Journalists are our friends. They make us aware of the different news in our community. They let us know what the latest is. They inform us about the things we ought to know. They are journalists and they are being abused. Here and everywhere, we hear that our journalist are being harassed or being killed. This issue should be abolished. We should not show any cruelty to them, and in that case, we can repay the sincere service that they are offering us.

  18. knight09

    Masasabi kung masarap at mahirap ang buhay mamahayag. Andyan yung madami kang nakakasalamuhang mga tao, nagiging kaibigan at minsan nagiging mga kaaway mo. Kaaway na nahahantong sa pagpatay sa ating mga mamamahayag. Bakit ganun? hinahayaan nalang ng pamahalaan na ganito ang kinahihinatnan ng mga taga media, sana bigyan sila ng proteksyon sapagkat sa media natin nalalaman ang mga anumalya o mga magagandang balita na nagaganap sa lipunan, pamahalaan, at maging sa mundo.

  19. ninj

    Even before I entered college, I am aware of the killings and abuses to journalists, professional or not.. I’ve tried being a news writer at our school papers, and I know, I need to tell facts, no fallacies.. Facts can sometimes hurt.. Writing or telling facts that might hurt does not mean it’s intentionally.. Also, it does not mean that the writer doesn’t care on other’s feelings.. It’s just that those facts needs to be told.. Killing or threatening the writer doesn’t change the fact, or doesn’t make others think that that fact isn’t a fact, but rather, it just shows that one is defensive because it’s true.. Help stop the unright act to journalists..

  20. curlycutie

    ang pagiging isang journalist ay isang napakahirap at mapanganib na propesyon.,
    dahil sa bawat pagsabak nila ,ang mismong buhay na nila ang nakataya.
    kaya saludo din ako sa katapangan ng ating mga journalist ,
    nakakasama lng ng loob na marami ang pinapatay sa kanila,kung tutuosin ginagawa lng nman nila ang kanilang trbaho:-(
    Sana mas patindihin pa ng gobyerno ang seguridad/mgbigay ng proteksyon sa ating mga journalist sa bansa..

  21. voldemort

    I heard that there are politicians who actually pay writers and reporters to write and talk good things about them. If this is really true, it is really frustrating. I truly admire journalists who write without the influence of others and reporters who are fair in their reporting. For there are some reason why they kill media people, they don’t want to be spoil their dirty plans. One thing that is very unjust media always seek for the truth but sometimes this truth have lies behind with moneys, summing up media people are doing their job, if you are going to make bad things then try not to be caught by media.

  22. sherwin fernandez

    as what we all know the killing of such journalism was about there job like telling the truth it will sometimes when they give a news or column that is related to the person that have power….that’s the problem here in our country because in that situation sometimes our journalism and reporter are too afraid in there work not only killing but also kid.napping most of the time in part of mindanao it so traumatic in a part of our mass media…

  23. Being a journalist is a great responsibility. Even how hard it is they try their best to deliver the truth to the people. Even broadcasters risk their lives for the people to know the truth. so for the media men I salute you for that. Keep up the good work..

  24. blueprint

    im a fanatic of a journalist. they are brave and they are doing every thing even if they are in the middle of heavy situation. they suffer a lot when they assign to go somewhere just like in the middle of war. i think they sacrifice there life in doing there jobs.

  25. I agree that being journalist is hard and complicated.journalist need to sacrifice to all aspect in their broadcasting news.some of the journalist die because of their duty,some journalist are assign to different place and different situation,like for example:shooting incident,hostage taking,and different incident. So we need to salute them in their duty.

  26. joma

    ts good that there’s a media that tells facts about what happening anywhere. but it is also true that media also abuses, like they’re giving their opinion instead those facts. yes, its true that all opinion is right, but they should also consider that those things they do is inconsiderable.

  27. tintin

    Journalist spread the news. Journalists spread rumors, and then reluctantly seek for the truth. Sometimes I don’t like them because they used the media to hypnotize the people. They air bad news that destroys the image of a person. Sometimes the media is biased. Journalist must not make comments. I noticed also that media air most the negative dongs. Like the hostage taking in quirino grand stand, they air it for almost two weeks now, so kakasawa na panoorin.

  28. taga mars

    being a journalist could be as dangerous as a soldier in a battle. risking their lives at every word and statement they make. telling all the bad thingsa apoliticians can be. but i think they should be responsible enough to control what they are saying to the people because sometimes, or some journalist are very biased to their opinion. yes we understand that they should tell what is really happening but they should also realize that there are B-sides of every story. why? did they really expoerience or saw all what are they writing in papers and saying on board?

  29. light

    i think being a good journalist is a hard task. it is even harder to be better, because the more truths you say, more expositions, powerful people are involved, you are like finding yourself in the midst of ravacious wolves.
    we know that truths sets us free. when these journalists try to be the way to deliver such truths, or let’s say before they can speak, they get killed.
    …hoping for such journalists and may our government be able to protect them.

  30. xtian

    Talaga ang media ay parang facebook, its complicated.hehe. Napanood ko yung Philippines is one of the top three most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. Actually nasa top 10 tayo pero nung naganap ang maguindanao massacre na kung saan, maraming taga Media ang namatay dun na tumaas sa ikatlo ang Pilipinas. Nakakapanglumo ang mga pangyayaring ito. Sana naman ay matigil na ang media killing dahil alam naman natin na ang trabaho lang ng mga taga media ay magbigay at maipahiwatig ang mga pangyayaring nangyayari sa bansa na pawang puro katotohanan lamang. Kung wala ang mga taga media, journalists, pano na kaya ang mundo? Kaya saludo sa mga taga media na may malaking gampanin sa pamayanan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s