Who’s the real “presstitute?”

Tita C. Valderama

Tita C. Valderama

NEVER have journalists been pilloried in the post-martial law period as they have been today. Ironically, the vicious attacks are coming from individuals and groups who spread lies and twist facts or gloss over weaknesses and failures of those they promote.

A few days ago, Pope Francis told leaders of Italy’s national journalists’ guild that journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of terrorism, and that media stereotyping entire population or fomenting fear of migrants are acting destructively.

Spreading rumors, the Pope said, is an example of “terrorism, of how you can kill a person with your tongue,” particularly for journalists “because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon.”

The Pope advised reporters to do what they ought to do — go the extra mile to seek the truth, particularly in an age of round-the-clock news coverage.

These days when ordinary persons could hardly distinguish social media from mainstream media, misinformation and disinformation abound. Some groups even take advantage of the situation to further blur the lines and spread false information which, when repeatedly posted on social media accounts, would appear credible to unsuspecting readers.

Journalism in the Philippines is far from being perfect. Many of its practitioners, sad to say, allow themselves to be manipulated by vested interests and personal motives. But generalizing them as “presstitutes” is definitely unfair to those who work hard to tell stories as they are.

“Presstitutes” is a play on press and prostitutes. It was an oblique allegation that the media tailors or twists news to fit a particular agenda. The word blending implies that members of the press sell themselves for money.

Strangely, those who introduced the word to Filipinos were rabid supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte who have frowned over the mainstream media’s reporting of their icon’s verbal diarrhea.

The word “presstitutes” is not an invention of Peter Tiu Laviña, campaign spokesman for Duterte, and Mocha Uson, a singer-dancer who has turned to blogging. They copied it from India where General Vijay Kumar Singh, a politician and former Army general, took offense to the outrage in the media, labelling the media “presstitutes” in a tweet.

The TV channel reported Singh’s statement that visiting the Pakistan High Commission was “more exciting” than evacuating Indians from Yemen. The media and the Indian netizens considered Singh’s comment as insensitive.

In the Philippines, Laviña branded some journalists as “presstitutes” for their biased and “elitist” views against the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Oddly, he used the term to refer to an incident that did not exist in the Philippines but in Brazil and in 2014 yet.

“Truly revolting—nine-year-old raped and murdered and we haven’t heard condemning this brutal act from human rightists, bishops and ‘presstitutes’ who are derailing the government’s war against drugs and crime,” Laviña wrote on Facebook in early August.

He who accused mainstream media of irresponsible reporting posted on social media a story that did not happen in the Philippines yet blamed the local media and human rights groups for being quiet about it. How irresponsible indeed! And did anybody hear him say sorry? I haven’t.

Uson, who campaigned for Duterte and who has been writing one-sided articles on her blog that has a following of more than a million, adopted Laviña’s term to refer to the media, and even posted the company logos of the more popular television and newspaper companies in the country that have been coming out with stories critical of Duterte’s war on drugs.

They could not hide their intolerance and incapacity to hear any kind of criticism of their icon, and vent their ire on media outlets.

But then, those criticizing the legitimate media for being biased were those who deliberately tailor news to portray their icon in a positive light even when he was doing the contrary.

Their jeering should better be addressed to their icon who could not control his foul mouth from hurling invectives and curses, as well as their fellow rabid followers who twist the news on purpose. Some of them even fabricate news in questionable websites probably to please their icon.

These biased and social media “trolls” destroy at will the credibility of the legitimate journalists.

Perhaps, the disconnect between the mainstream and social media should give reasons to news organizations to cleanse their ranks and rid of those who sell their souls to corrupt politicians and businessmen.

In the end, those who spread misinformation and disinformation must be identified and exposed.


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  1. Noting is left to be said, the Du30 bloggers are irked to read those journalist who writes opposite to their point of view. They call them presstitue, but eventually the truth will come out. Why are the Du30 bloggers afraid of the truth?

  2. I’m one of those who welcome true change and betterment of this country, siempre bayan ko to, I look forward to see na nag-i-improve ang lagay ng aking mga kababayan. So we now have a President who is not a diplomat, who cuss and openly air his frustations and anger without fear of how he is perceived. Permit me to say dear author, the mass coverage showing the dead bodies in the international media is overwhelming, it does not help the country – and there is no doubt a lot of those are works by the local media. I don’t mean to say that we have to cover wrongdoings, of course we have to be vigilant and express our distaste and unite against abuse of power and authority. Pero masyado obvious po, some people are behind this for political motives. If someone had just taken the time and wrote, classified all drug-related crimes say 6-12 mos before July 30th, with uncensored pictures and all, we’d all be aghast and horrified – we probably wouldn’t even bother reading the papers.

  3. Matatalino na ang mga social media ngayon. They always see the two sides of the story… trolls man, Basahin mo Lang…Meron na fanatic eh. Pero kinocorrect ng marami yan…pag misleading ay di pinaniwalaan mga yun. They will comment with reprimanding posts

  4. The writer should humbly accept that Presstitutes abound and the people are getting tired and bored. Social media is much much more reliable and better to explore since many informations are shared in the platform that cannot be read or watched in mainstream media. It is now the alternative medium for a more credible source. The Presstitutes are within the mainstream media and are now eating the whole Press. We cannot but wonder how rotten the mainstream media nowadays. Perhaps even the known broadcasters in tv, radio and commentators in newspapers are accepting bribes from oligarchs. This is how bad the mainstream media are seen by the people like me nowadays. I have already cut my subscription with TFC and GMA and have been relying on facebook for news updates. Better than paying and enriching the presstitutes. By the way, I also joined the call to boycott perceived as presstitutes as an institution like ABS-CBN, GMA, Inquirer, Rappler, Philippine Star, at time CNN Philippines, etc.

  5. Simeon E. Anekang on

    WE are ambitious, I did not know if journalist pursue their career in order to tell the truth or inform us story or writings that will inspire us. We must also accept that every one of us including journalist have supported a candidate or a political party, so whoever wins CRITICS will be there waiting for something wether little or big for Him to make is a news for a day and if it is still HOT it will not stop.
    Ask Marcos loyalist and they will boast His achievement, ask the yellow ones and they will tell you his misdeeds.
    And for the yellow once they will boast that they bring back democracy, ask others and they will tell the misery.
    If the government officials will do what they promise, others will rise and inform the public through media their “IDEAS” they will not stop delivering speech wether official or not in order to stop or pause what administration pursue for changes.. including revision or review of our constitution –
    I just hope that we are open to changes, for any violation that we observe – complain it with evidence, file a case.
    If they took their position for granted or abuse it complain file a case…

  6. This is the first time that a professional journalist admitted that Philippine journalism is going downwards. I always hear and read “raw” and “daw”. What is happening to Philippine journalism?

  7. Mainstream media should clean itself up or be less and less relevant to a public that is getting tired of being misled, misinformed and manipulated by the business and political interests that many media practitioners are beholden to. This is the reality of privately-owned media here where adherence to the ethics and principles of journalism is more the exception than the rule. Mainstream media can no longer claim primacy in the information space; social media has thankfully balanced and even surpassed that role. Magsi-ayos kayo para paniwalaan kayo ulit ng taongbayan.

  8. Mam, ibig mo ba sabiin hindi yung GMA, ABS-N, Inquirer and Rappler ay hndi one-sided.?or ikaw lang talaga ang bulag sa katutuhanan?