MAGANES: Media and politics
Media is often regarded as the fourth estate serving as a watchdog of the excesses of the government. Under our government system, there are three branches: executive under the President, legislative in which we have the House of Representatives and Senate House and the judiciary under the Supreme Court.
Each branch acts independently, the executive executes laws and provide services to the people, the legislative enacts laws and the judiciary interprets laws if within the ambit of the Constitution. Media, on the other hand, informs the people on what these branches of government are doing, being the purveyors of truth and information.
In his press conference last May 31, incoming President Rodrigo ” Digong” Duterte drew flak from the media practitioners when he said that many members of the media were murdered or silenced for life because they themselves were corrupt and have not been true to their calling. It was an unacceptable statement from a president-elect to the group of media men who were present in that press conference. Many reacted negatively saying that said statement is inviting impunity among the government officials who have been the subject of commentaries of media men.
Personally, I don’t take Duterte’s statement as a threat to our journalistic work. There’s truth in it particularly that there are colleagues in the media who are needed to be disciplined because their commentaries are below the belt. How many media men are being paid and under payrol of local officials? How many media men are subservient to the powers that be because they are receiving favors from them? These practices elicit corruption and deter journalistic independence.
Because of Duterte’s seemingly cold attitude towards media men, some media groups are asking him to issue apology, something he refused to do. Instead, Duterte said he doesn’t need them even to the extent of telling them not to cover his activities and not to go to Davao City where he still holds office as mayor. Could this be a sign of war between Duterte and the media? I don’t think so as long as we are doing our work in the interest of the public.
In order to tone down the negative reactions of media men, the camp of Duterte said that there will be no more press conferences to be conducted in the next few days. This is to refrain Duterte from issuing statements that he said are usually misunderstood and given negative connotations. This was after Duterte explained the context of what he said on the killings of media men.
According to Duterte, there are three types of journalists. There are those considered the “vultures of journalism”, ” mouthpieces of vested interests” and the “crusaders of truth”.
Duterte said it was from the vultures type that many journalists are being killed. “They are the ones accepting money from illegal sources supposedly, and in return keeping shut their mouths and receiving money. And these are the guys whose greed is unlimited. So they are paid now, then they ask for more and if there’ soothing coming their way, they talk more, they destroy people and family-and they die.”
How about those ” mouthpieces of vested interests”? Duterte said, ” It could be mining, it could be anything, something which is an agent for whatever, and those engaged in businesses and enterprises which need to be defended. They are called the publicists and the PROs (public relations officers).”
And for the crusaders of truth, these are the journalists telling the truth, baring before the public, said Duterte. ” Sometimes they hit big business or those who cannot tolerate the truth being exposed to the public; and they do not accept money. What is very important to them is their profession and telling the truth to the whole world…their opinions are respected, and they are righteous.”
Let’s take a look of the types of journalists in Pangasinan. Many belong to the second type- “the mouthpieces of vested interests”. We have heard them over the radio stations and their propaganda materials during the election campaign. They concocted lies against political candidates including their supporters. They defended their patron-politicians although they knew for a fact how corrupt they were. They worked all in the name of money and for twisting truths. To me they are not journalists, but propagandists. Their work ended after the election. They could not survive without the help of their patrons.
We have “vultures” too in Pangasinan. These are the “talibans”. We could identify them the way they look- donning big identification cards, always present in press conferences although they do not have legitimate media outlets. Their motives were to get money and more money from politicians. They could not even write good “news stories” and at most copied the work of others and bylined by them. These type of pseudo-journalists must not be entertained.
I thanked God I was with the group of journalists during the election campaign who belong to the third type- “crusaders of truth”. Because of our principles, we sided with candidates whom we believe should be the rightful leaders in Pangasinan, we concentrated on factual issues and truths. We did not concoct lies and black propagandas. We researched issues and presented to the people for them to understand what have been obtaining in the province, and yet we were not successful in doing so.
But we could breath without sighs. We have crusaded for truth, and we are happy to have done our work as real journalists.
To our media friends, to which type do you belong?
( For comments and suggestions, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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