• Not a lovers’ spat #MediaCrisis

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    WHEN the then-President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was doing those two-hour conversations with the press, informal and freewheeling, no filter and no holds barred, he gave them news for days. All media needed to do was latch onto the more controversial statements, the jokes and retorts, toward ensured hits and shares and likes on their website and social media accounts.

    They could also milk these bits and soundbites all it was worth, where one story could yield a good number of articles: from breaking news to longer form ones, in English and then in Tagalog, and then news articles with video clips. They could go on and use it for an op-ed article, or find a “political analyst”—the job de rigueur!—and create an article out of that as well.

    Add to that the number of news articles they can (re-)create for primetime, late night, and early morning news. It was like a gift that kept on giving.

    Until the President decided he wouldn’t give media anything. And here we are.

    Inauguration day

    If Inauguration Day was any indication, it didn’t seem like a big deal that mainstream media was not given its own space in Rizal Hall, neither did it matter that we were all seeing the same footage on every network.

    In fact it was great that there were no ambush interviews of guests, no pointless questions like “how does it feel?” and “what do you expect to hear?” and then afterward “was it what you expected?” It was refreshing that the news did not—could not—carry stories about the Filipiniana fashion of attendees, or the who’s who among the invitees. There were no scoops to be had, no getting a “better” story versus the other network.

    From the inauguration, the President met with the Diplomatic Corps, sat down with militants brought to Malacañang from the rally in Mendiola, and had his first Cabinet Meeting—the first half of which was aired live, too. Later in the evening he had dinner with a community in Tondo, Manila. We saw these activities live on PTV 4 or in real time on official social media accounts.

    It sure was rough around the edges, but not bad at all for Day One.

    The press and the President

    But this is not what mainstream media is used to.
    A pooled editorial that was signed by various mainstream newspapers and media organizations was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 29. It sounded conciliatory, admitting to corruption in the media and speaking of it as borne of a systemic dysfunction that needed to be stopped at the source. A veteran journalist has been less conciliatory, asserting that disallowing even the Malacañang press corps from covering the inauguration is “tantamount to prior restraint to a free press” (Inquirer.net, 1 July).

    Many have pointed out (threatened and warned?) that this kind of setup with the media will only push media to come up with other stories, and the President just might regret that. Even more people have said that this is like Marcos-era repression of press freedom, where only press releases would be had from the Palace, the better to fashion the image of the President.

    Yet one wonders: if censorship is the point, then I would’ve ordered the cameramen at the inauguration to make sure they do not show the Marcos siblings in the audience. I would’ve controlled the images that could be posted on the family members’ social media accounts. I would’ve made sure it was impossible to get those soundbites from the Duterte siblings after the inauguration. Unsurprisingly, the question asked of Baste was: “Anong pakiramdam?” To which he replied, “Pareho lang.”

    Self-criticism

    The threat that the media will find other stories given this no-presscon, no-interview policy, just might work to the public’s advantage.

    Because there are many things the media could be focusing on at this point, even just given what we caught of the first Cabinet Meeting. We could start talking about disaster risk reduction and finally reckon with the tragedy that was Typhoon Haiyan, with real numbers of deaths, a real assessment of what went wrong. We could look into climate change, which the President himself mentions as a critical problem. We could understand better why he wants to send the Health Secretary to Cuba. We could get into the mining question, and not just believe what the new DENR Secretary and what the mining companies are saying—there’s the academe and those who work in the field, who would have a different, more practical take on the mining question. I would’ve loved to hear about how the DSWD prepared for the Tondo solidarity dinner on Inauguration Day, and what that meant for the urban poor of Manila, given a President from Davao.
    But mainstream media does not seem to be interested in doing these stories, and one wonders why.

    Instead, what we got on Inauguration Day was coverage of VP Leni Robredo’s inauguration and thanksgiving concert, complete with who wore what, who was there, and who just arrived. What we got was coverage of citizen Noynoy Aquino going home to Times Street, with Kris Aquino stories to boot. What we heard was the voice of veteran media man Vergel Santos talking about how the President seemed to have multiple personalities, because we were seeing a version of him at the inauguration that was different from the man during the campaign, putting into question the shift in decorum.
    If I were the President, I’d refuse to sit down with this media, too.

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    17 Comments

    1. I hope the media outfits already understand that the people have seen what they did or they have been doing and are very critical now. The way I see it, the angst of the people are now not limited to the politicians but to the supposed watchdogs of this country. Before, if there are corruption and anomalies that the ordinary Juan wants to divulge, they go to the police..if they don’t trust the police, they go to the journos..but now..even the journos cannot be trusted. Yan ang erosion na sinasabi ni Duterte. Nawalan ng tiwala sa lahat ang mga tao and so the people chose social media and relied on their fellow pinoy.

      The media must shape up. It’s high time to report and write substantial and may sENSE na news. Hindi lahat kailangang pashowbiz.

    2. First time to watch the pPresident’s inaguration and it feels so amazing knowing you helped your country have him there,someone who really has a heart for the common people.. Looking for a brighter future for the Philippines because of him.. I seldom watch news before but now, even the tidbits and the scraps as you called it from mainstream media makes me and my mom happy to watch, knowing that only positive news are being aired now, and no more critical analysis of each word that comes from Tatay Digong’s mouth.. Only the new government’s vision and mission are now highlighted without the mud that the yellow media seems to love to create all the time.. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!!! Yeeeeyyyy!!!

    3. Cha Evangelista on

      Is this not what they did to the previous admin too? Media has been like that eversince.

    4. Arturo Damias on

      Mainstream media gained their status because of public support. That public however is the vested interests that subscribe to their ideas and biases, the same vested interest that profit from the patronage of the public. Thus both depend upon public support that may be withdrawn as what is now happening. Once the public consolidates to boycott mainstream media and the vested interests, the situation will be different. Mainstream media will no longer be mainstream and become the alternative media trying to live from the crumbs falling out from the social media where they are the minority. They can try to prop up their own icon like Leni Robredo but who profits from a hollow image? In fact, there is now a noticeable shift in their reports that are no longer “exclusives” but “live reports”, still using the tested method of reports from their field reporters but how long can they work in the shadows scrambling to grab the feeds from PTV 4? They can always invent news but how long can they endure ridicule from social media? There was a tested saying: “you cannot fight city hall”…now it will be “you cannot fight the palace.”!

    5. The yellow media must go back to a good journalism school to refresh them what real journalism is.

      Please please no more jaundiced media.

      • Pablo A. Dublin on

        Amen…”good journalism”…always strive to interview the source, if possible , name the specific source, and above all, be a non-partisan (impartial) and try to make a positive difference for the country. After all, we want our contributions to matter.

    6. I am happy with the set up because what media can now sensationalize are the more substantial things instead of how the president talks or acts or whatever that are not that important.

    7. Couldn’t agree with you more…Let’s all buckle down to serious work and not the teleserye rubbish from media.Give the people a vision and mission and how we can all help to achieve those.

    8. Surely, those networks think that they are a cut above the rest and everyone should fear them cos they are the PRESS. But they forgot that they are simply chroniclers of events. If they would present someone who would like to present an analysis of events, they should present someone with a grasp of geopolitics, economics, finance and MLMTT Thought. Unfortunately, lazy as they are, they would call anyone who is being asked by the mom to buy vinegar and present the person as a “political analyst” in front of a worldwide audience. Indeed, media only brought unto themselves the Dee Gong Boycott for their propensity for the inane and the absurd. Is this because their outfit are peopled only by martial law babies whose psyche is only geared to the song-and-dance-plus-teleserye culture with no understanding of the dialectics in Philippine society?

      • ana balayon on

        They have ceased being chroniclers and made themselves out to be critics who sensationalize their biased opinions. Mainstream media has created an audience for the clothes worn during inaugurations rather than a public with a real ear for significant events.

    9. Sino ba gusto sa Yellow Media na pulos negative, eskandalo, melodrama, kahirapan, tsismis at may twist pa ang binabilta. Sabi ng Yellow media yun daw gusto ng masa. Ha? Talaga? Baka sila lang may gusto para kontrolado utak ng mga Pinoy. I remember and still fresh in my mind when a yellow media interviewed a girl trapped in a school building (Cabanatuan) which collapsed during a massive earthquake in 1991. The yellow asked yung student na naipit samga bato, “Anong pakiramdam mo? Masakit ba?” Kung ako yung student, sisigawan ko sya ng katakot-takot na mura bago ako mamatay.

      • Agree.. I remember that, too. Naka pin down sa slabs ng building yung bata, namamatay na.. tinanong pa ng reporter: ANONG NARARAMDAMAN MO? We, who helped to elect the People’s President have no regret that the President let go of these media. We campaigned for him through the social media, he won. We will still get information about our beloved President through the social media, making these so called mainstream media irrelevant.

    10. I agree with you Ms. Katrina 100%. PTV4 was able to maintain the solemnity of the inauguration minus the chaos of ambush interviews. It was actually refreshing to watch. I didn’t feel i was deprived of any important footages at all. Great job PTV4!!!

      • Mia Ventura on

        I felt the same way watching ptv4 coverage..
        solemn, refreshing… no unnecessary
        commentary… great job ptv4…

      • Very, very true. The two hosts were very engaging – hindi nakakabobo. Yes, matalino dating nila (hindi nagmamamagaling tulad ng mga icteric na media). Please yellow media/writers/bloggers, set your standards high. Like the one who wrote this.

    11. Vincent de Belen on

      Right on ma Radical chick. The mainstream media has become complacent with what they do and some of them even accomplice of corrupt politicians instead of exposing them. They focus on fashion instead of relevance during important events whether local or international