Media and power

Journalists covering an event (Lito Ocampo/CMFR)
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The relationship between media and power — whether in the form of governments, business corporations, or institutions with large followings such as churches — has always been problematic.

The media are almost always the first targets of repression, whether in Indonesia during the 1965 coup and the decades that followed it; in Thailand in the present day where the military junta has taken down supposedly offensive posts in online news sites and blogs, and disallowed the holding of press forums — or in the Philippines, where, upon the declaration of martial law, the Marcos terror regime shut down newspapers and radio and TV stations, required all means of reproducing texts and photos to be registered, created a ministry of information from which all government issuances were to be sourced, seized control of the broadcast networks, and allowed only crony-owned newspapers to publish.

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Lethal mix

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JOURNALISTS AND POLITICIANS have always had an uneasy, troubled, and troubling relationship, whether in those countries that are, or which claim to be democracies, and even in dictatorships. But in this country where politics rules both during and between elections, the relationship has sometimes been lethal.

The “Fourth Estate” function of monitoring government often puts competent and honest journalists on a collision course with government officials whether appointed or elected, and with those politicians running for public office during election season. For the dishonest, paid partisanship leads to the same, at times deadly course with his or her patron’s rivals.

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Teapot tempest

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Although it’s supposed to be the talk of the town, and getting 36,000 visits a day not only from Netizens from the Philippines but also from other countries, the Brian Gorrell blog and the controversy surrounding it has only been reluctantly covered by the Philippine media.

For those whose interest has been focused on the rice crisis, hunger, unemployment, several economists’ doubts over the alleged 7.3 per cent growth of the economy last quarter, the National Broadband Network scandal, China-Philippine relations, the Spratlys, and other issues too many bloggers would sniff at as less than earth-shaking, the blog came online in furtherance of Gorrell’s campaign to get back US$70,000 that he claims was swindled off him by an ex boyfriend who’s allegedly a member of Manila high society, and whose associates cover its doings as lifestyle page “journalists”.

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