CORRUPTION IN media is well known, acknowledged, and being addressed in the press and media community itself. It is wrong to make it seem that it’s of recent discovery, or that nothing’s being done about it.
The many forms of corruption in the media—whether bribery, extortion, being in the payroll of political and other interests, all of which are more generally known as “envelopmental journalism”—have been studied not only in those journalism schools that recognize its impact on keeping the public misinformed and even ignorant of the issues that affect it. Putting an end to it has also been among the advocacies of such journalists’ groups as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).
THE PHILIPPINE Daily Inquirer described President Benigno S. Aquino III as “affable” during his speech at the 9th MediaNation “Summit” last Friday, November 23, in contrast to his “combative” stance in at least three events this year when he rebuked the media for their alleged inaccuracy, negativity, and focus on his love life.
And why shouldn’t Mr. Aquino have been friendlier than usual? He has after all demonstrated time and again that he can’t stand ordinary journalists, whom he has even insulted during his press conferences. He was apparently at ease last Friday because he was addressing, not so much the smattering of media practitioners present, but the media owners and publishers, as well as the members of the “summit” sponsoring organization, Pagbabago@Pilipinas, who include, among others, non-communication academics; a clutch of business executives; an actor; a politician; and a trickle-down economist–in other words, a conservative bunch who share a common distrust of the press and the media who can afford to pay the $50,000 lecture fee of former Poland President Lech Walesa, and for that reason Mr. Aquino’s kind of people.
The Maguindanao or Ampatuan Massacre, the third anniversary of which journalists’ and media advocacy groups are commemorating today across the country, was not primarily focused on attacking the 32 journalists and media workers who were killed in the worst incident of violence against the media in history.
The intention of the masterminds behind the killing of a total of 52 men and women was to prevent the filing of Esmael Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for governor. The Massacre was “political” in the narrow sense that politics is understood among the families and clans that contend for power in this archipelago of tears.
Dozens of Philippine bloggers, and academics from the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines, have filed an ethics complaint against Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III for plagiarism.
The complaint came at about the same time that the Senate received a letter from Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late former US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was also the brother of former US President John F. Kennedy, demanding an apology from Sotto for passing off as his own, portions of a speech Robert Kennedy delivered in 1966. US blogger Sarah Pope has also declared her intention to file a similar complaint, for Sotto’s use of her blog posts in the course of his arguing against the passage of the Reproductive Health bill.
POLITICIANS ARE at least partly the creations of the mass media, which in many cases present to the public only their versions of the person rather than the person himself.
These Frankenpols the media recklessly cobble together out of their often limited perceptions, expectations and biases, the way Victor Frankenstein of the Mary Shelley novel put an artificial being together out of the brains of one dead man and the torso of another. The most well-known example of the Philippine media’s creations is Joseph Estrada, whose movie role as advocate and avenger of the poor too many voters thought was the authentic expression of his real-life persona.