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Saturday, February 29, 2020
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Media messes


Katrina Stuart Santiago
Katrina Stuart Santiago

Something’s up with media and it ain’t Vhong Navarro.

I had thought this, in fact, earlier in January before the Navarro story happened. Pinoy media, it seems, are on a downward spiral, where all of these are in the mainstream, no matter the idea of “new” that Rappler.com and Interaksyon of TV5 like to sell about themselves.

It seems the task of getting ahead of stories, of getting online hits, is really the crisis at hand here. There was a time when all one needed to do was out-scoop the other news organization after all. Now, it seems, the task is to get more hits than the next organization, that new website, that blog.

It is quite messy, this media.

Selling everything and the kitchen sink
One of the things critiqued about Rappler from the get-go was its decision to publish press releases for products and events, under the guise of a non-press release. On other media sites, sections have been built only for press releases and announcements. Rappler has decided to have its writers do the press releases and pre-event releases, and publish these under the different sections alongside what we would imagine to be more … credible writing.

The way it looks as such is that Rappler is selling products and events via its website. Which is not despicable at all, if we are to consider its apparent need for sponsors. What is reprehensible is that it pretends to be doing otherwise; and that it doesn’t imagine that the pre-event release cannot be written better. One is about content, and the other is about form.

Its decision though, to launch a woman empowerment campaign that is obviously co-presented—and is inspired by—a shampoo commercial might be one of the more detestable of Rappler’s decisions.

Because here they talk about empowering the Filipina by talking to her about the labels used against her, and those that she must be able to own, no matter how numerous, no matter what people say. The shampoo ad itself talked about those labels and shows the woman breaking free from these stereotypes via her, uh, long obviously faked-up hair. Not the most original or groundbreaking advertisement obviously, but you expect that. You expect as well the contradiction that is in woman empowerment through the beauty industry in advertising.

What you don’t expect is any self-respecting media organization having that same contradiction. Media, especially “new media,” should not answer to anybody. They should not have to sell shampoo in order to talk about woman empowerment. They know that woman empowerment vis a vis the beauty industry is more complex than giving us clichés like “Free yourself from labels!” To fail to consider the difference in social class and status, in the truth that sometimes those labels are good, and that half the time women are burdened by the idea that she can “do it all, and be everything she wants,” is Feminism 101. What Rappler’s doing with a shampoo brand?

Far far from empowering the Pinay.

Being contrary
I used to hold GMA 7 in higher regard than its rival ABS-CBN, which might be because I hold Mike Enriquez in such high regard, too. Online and otherwise, this organization seemed to handle criticism better, and would do apologies right away. Being online allows for a public to correct one quickly; what it demands is the humility to admit one’s mistakes and apologize when needed. GMA 7 was better at this than any other media organization.

Not anymore. The downward spiral is in its handling of a story that cannot be theirs, because the star of the show is an ABS-CBN talent. And so the girl Vhong is up against is given all the airtime she wants / needs—I imagine they think this balances things out, where ABS-CBN’s on one side and they are on the other. But what it reveals is how they’ve fallen into the same trap as ABS-CBN, unapologetically taking one side of the story and running with it, something I didn’t think GMA was in the business of doing.

But between charges that Arnold Clavio was rude to Navarro’s lawyer on nationwide TV, and Jessica Soho seemingly dismissive of the woman’s condo’s CCTV, one is hard put to defend GMA. I agree to their having released the report about finding the blotter – it was a stroke of genius to even look for it in a police precinct that’s far from the scene of the crime (were they tipped?). I disagree with just being contrary for the sake of being so.

The icing on this cake was when GMA 7’s Sandra Aguinaldo interviewed Atty. Alnie Foja, legal counsel of women’s group Gabriela, about Rape 101. When the news report came out, it announced: “Gabriela asks the public to understand and stop from judging Deniece Cornejo (Gabriela, nanawagan na unawain at huwag agad husgahan si Deniece Cornejo).” It was followed by an online piece entitled “Gabriela Women’s Party expresses support for Cornejo.”

Atty. Foja quickly called the network’s attention to this misrepresentation of what she said, calling it “deliberately misleading and malicious,” demanding an explanation and apology from GMA 7. The article on GMA News Online was removed, and the video of the news report has now been made private on YouTube. But as of February 4, 1:30PM, there are no apologies from GMA 7 for a wrong news report that came out on January 30, five days ago.

One wonders what’s taking them so long, when this is a grave error that warrants an apology to Atty. Foja and Gabriela right away, destroying as it does the organization’s credibility, especially since the call from the beginning was for Gabriela to keep distance from this story until it becomes clear whether the rape happened or not, whether this girl is truly victim or is actually co-conspirator.

But GMA 7’s apology has been too long in coming. It is now no different from every other “new” media enterprise, no different from its rival network. Such is the state of Pinoy media.

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Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 29, 2020