PNoy government is also to blame for Philippine media’s gossip mongering style

Philippine President Noynoy Aquino recently criticized the Philippine media because he thinks that the industry as a whole is not painting a nice picture of the country and his government in particular. Well, well, well. What can I say? Considering that a lot of people have been criticizing the Philippine media for so long and citing their biased — bordering on propaganda — reporting, particularly the media networks allied with the Aquino-Cojuangco clan; I say that PNoy’s criticism is composed of right points illustrated by wrong examples.

First, PNoy is right about his claim that the media tends to shoot first and ask questions later. This is what he said:

“Nandiyan pa po kaya ang prinsipyo ng get it first but get it right, o napalitan na ito ng get it first, siguruhin na bebenta ang storya, at kung hindi tama ang impormasyon, mag-sorry ka na lang?”

PNoy devotes much of his speeches to the vilification of his enemies.

Indeed, that is exactly what some members of the media did when they inaccurately published a list of properties supposedly under Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona’s name without first checking if the list was accurate and then divulged private information concerning other individuals who were not even involved in the impeachment trial of the magistrate. As far as a lot of people are concerned, the media networks that published it haven’t even apologized or said “sorry” for their mistake.

So PNoy’s statement that members of the media tend to publish reports “without verifying first the information” is true. In Corona’s case, it worked well to mislead the public. The information seems to have stuck on some people’s minds causing them to form a biased opinion about the Chief Justice. There are members of the media who seem to be in cahoots with the prosecutors on this with the likes of “investigative” journalist, Raissa Robles leading the charge. Even Senator Joker Arroyo agrees with this as evident when he scolded the prosecutors for misleading the public by claiming that impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, his wife Cristina, and their family members own 45 properties:

“Quite frankly, you misled the public by initially announcing 45,” Arroyo said as the Senate impeachment court tried to clarify the claim made by the prosecution regarding the properties supposedly owned by Corona’s family.

“Is that fair? You just cannot say a person owns 45 and [then] say you are not sure. It just isn’t done,” Arroyo said during the impeachment trial.

The problem with PNoy is that he was selective in citing why he thinks the media is being negative. He only complains about the media when the report is unfavorable to him. Indeed, it is not fair that the media would publish a report about his “date” based on a Twitter post but then again, his Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary, Leila de Lima issued a hold departure order on former President Gloria Arroyo based on an unverified anonymous text message that she is seeking asylum in the Dominican Republic, which then compelled the media to publish unverified reports about GMA’s illness and alleged plans to escape.

It’s really sad that the media is contributing to the decay of our society’s moral fiber. Even PNoy admits this:

“Malinaw na naman po na hindi ito totoo–ngunit muli, nagawa na ang pagtatanim ng duda bago pa ang paglilinaw, pagtatama, at pagsiguro sa katotohanan ng balita. Nakakalungkot po na natabunan nito ang mabuting balita na sana’y nakapagpa-angat ng loob ng mga Pilipino,”

Of course when the damage to someone’s reputation has been done, it is hard to undo it. It’s nearly impossible to gain back the public’s trust when the vilification comes from the very top. PNoy should understand now how it feels to be a victim of gossip. He had no qualms about vilifying GMA and her perceived allies like CJ Corona in the recent past.

Another flaw in PNoy’s criticism of the media came to light when he blasted the industry for highlighting the crimes in the country. He said that it is the reason why other countries question the safety of their tourists. But then when it comes to the country’s crime rate, how can you not report it the way it is? Was PNoy suggesting that it should not be reported at all? I am pretty sure that because of the high crime rate, many petty crimes do not get reported anymore. In contrast, even minor crimes still get front-page news in other countries. This is because safety and rule of law is paramount in most developed countries, which is why crime rates in those countries are not that high.

PNoy added that one of his acquaintances from overseas wanted to visit the Philippines but changed his mind after watching the news from a Filipino channel. It is strange that a personal acquaintance of the President would not trust him enough to ignore what he sees on TV. It could be because his acquaintance knows too well that not only is the crime rate high; the lack of good quality infrastructure is by itself a turn off. An online publication featured an article describing observations consistent with this in one of their columns after the hostage tragedy:

Terrorist bombings on the Indonesian island resort of Bali and Jakarta this decade have not kept tourists away; nor has Thailand’s internal political problems, nor the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 in which more than 200,000 people died.

To many foreigners, the Philippines is seen as lacking infrastructure, perceived as being too expensive when compared to other regional destinations and, above all, not a safe place to spend a holiday.

There is something to be said about the fact that countries that have their share of negative publicity in the eyes of the international community still get a big share of the tourism pie compared to that of the Philippines. Their deep and fascinating cultures most likely remain enticing to tourists who keep going back to places like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia despite the instability or threat of violence. The tourists probably have more fun in those places compared to the Philippines.

Philippine media played a huge role in the bungled handling of the 2010 Mendoza hostage crisis.

The problem with PNoy’s plea for more positive news is that it is misleading. How can you not report a preventable incident where eight tourists died for instance? Even if the local media sweeps it under the rug, the international media will still hear about it especially since a lot of people have smart phones that can take videos that can then be easily uploaded onto the Net nowadays. It is apparent that PNoy did not think about the capabilities of today’s technology.

The world has gotten smaller because we are all wired together. It could be PNoy’s age but his analysis of the problem is wrong. If there are no crimes to report, more “positive” news will be reported. Even the tourism marketing gimmickry propped up with the help of social media buckled under the weight of Netizens’ mockery of the ill-thought-out slogan “More Fun in the Philippines”.

The issue here is that PNoy’s government is relying too much on tourism to help our economy. If he’s going to put all his eggs in one basket, he needs to fix and clean the basket first. In other words, he needs to fix and clean the country to make it more tourist-friendly. No, he can’t blame the media entirely for the drop in tourist arrivals even though they played a huge role in the bungling of the Mendoza hostage crisis. There are other factors beyond the media’s rumor mongering that are involved. As former DOT secretary, Richard Gordon once said: “Tourism is a story, it’s not just ‘wow’ or ‘fun’, we have to justify it. The product should sell itself. We don’t want to advertise tapos pagdating dito, wala. We have to improve the country”.

Finally, I will end this with a famous quote from the excellent film, Doubt. It should cause us to reflect on the damaging effects of gossip:

A woman was gossiping with her friend about a man whom they hardly knew – I know none of you have ever done this. That night, she had a dream: a great hand appeared over her and pointed down on her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O’ Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. ‘Is gossiping a sin?’ she asked the old man. ‘Was that God All Mighty’s hand pointing down at me? Should I ask for your absolution? Father, have I done something wrong?’ ‘Yes,’ Father O’ Rourke answered her. ‘Yes, you ignorant, badly-brought-up female. You have blamed false witness on your neighbor. You played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed.’ So, the woman said she was sorry, and asked for forgiveness. ‘Not so fast,’ says O’ Rourke. ‘I want you to go home, take a pillow upon your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me.’ So, the woman went home: took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to her roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed. ‘Did you gut the pillow with a knife?’ he says. ‘Yes, Father.’ ‘And what were the results?’ ‘Feathers,’ she said. ‘Feathers?’ he repeated. ‘Feathers; everywhere, Father.’ ‘Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out onto the wind,’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘it can’t be done. I don’t know where they went. The wind took them all over.’ ‘And that,’ said Father O’ Rourke, ‘is gossip!’

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45 Comments on “PNoy government is also to blame for Philippine media’s gossip mongering style”

    1. I just hope she can put herself in other people’s shoes and realise the damage she is causing when she publishes “unverified” reports. I don’t think she sees Corona as a person at all.

  1. That I can say is the media is not throwing a HARDBALL question to Penoy. It’s always a softball one like how is your relationshp with this woman.

    Stupid media.

    Example:

    Valte in interview said that Coraona should stick to the issue (inre: his impeachment case).

    Can the media ask her why Penoy has his conclusion even before the impeachment conclude?

    1. Yes, it seems like the media is very kind when they are interviewing PNoy. They ask “safe” questions. Maybe the communications team already warn them not to ask the hard questions beforehand.

  2. Noynoy Aqu8ino wanted the Media to lie and protray that nothing is wrong in our country. Like what his propaganda Media networks are doing. His inability to attract tourists here is his own fault…Luneta Hostage incident…people are so poor, because of his
    lack of economic policy or failed economic policies. That their children are pestering tourists, as child prostitutes. What I know, is Noynoy Aquino cannot accept responsibility. This is his weakness. So, he must find someone to blame…he’s addicted to playing the Blame Game..

    1. Although PNoy is part of the problem, we can’t blame him entirely for why the country is still poor. There are other factors at play and the problem already existed even before he was elected.

      1. Noynoy Aquino is the primary factor…the country’s problems are too many…he knows, he has no mental capability to solve it…he was counting on people, to do it for him…and this is the result…I believe more of his Hidden Agenda of protecting his Hacienda Luisita; than doing a good job as President…

  3. It’s strange how the president seems to just blurt out his personal opinions rather than making educated statements. He could’ve used the opportunity to highlight other positive developments in the works. Kumbaga, the things to watch out for.

    He wants positive spin on the news daw. Eh kung wala anong gagawin ng media?

    Example:

    Crime Rate Up! Rampant Murders Everywhere.
    In related news, population growth is up — QUITS LANG.

    1. He now knows what GMA was going through during her term. At least GMA took it in stride.

      PNoy can change the toxic environment by ending the vilification against his enemies. He acts like he’s still on a campaign mode until now.

      1. Exactly! Campaign mode. Actually, okay lang naman mag-campaign for something else. How about support for projects that require the help of citizens?

        I really hate it that he’s wasting all that popularity just to hunt down GMA.

  4. Bottom line is, what makes PNoy so special that he considers himself exempted from criticism? His aversion to it warrants just that thing.

    I don’t think the government deserves to take all the blame. After all, Philippine media is an institutionalized version of something Filipinos do very well: “tsismis”.

    There’s a term somewhere which I think is apt to describe Philippine media, and in a way, PNoy and his ilk: Aves de rapina – birds of prey.

    1. Seems like he is genuinely culture shocked. He was relatively under the radar until he was thrust into the spotlight. He should step aside if he can’t stand the heat.

  5. Hi Ilda.

    I’m fairly new to GRP and you’re one of the writers I enjoy. I like your insights and different takes on things.

    I was wondering if you could write something about the Filipino nurse, Jonathan Aquino, who physically abused his elderly patient in the UK. I’ve been coming back to this site everyday to read about it, since my news only come from the articles on this site, but no one has written about it yet.

    I would love it if you could. Thanks!

  6. Expect it from the oligarch-dominated media, especially the Yellow Network aka ABS-CBN, force-feeding Filipinos with telebasura in the name of ratings. Even GMA Network and TV5 are doing the same.

    No wonder, when someone is fighting for the realization of public television, he/she is demonized immediately.

    No wonder, Philippine media landscape is getting worst than ever, especially in television.

      1. I second the motion.

        I never watched these newscasts anymore, because they’re disgusting and sensational.

        Instead, I only rely on foreign public broadcasters (their international channels) like Australia Network, BBC World News and even Spanish RTVE

  7. The irony is that many are aware of the diseases in society caused by media’s dumbing-down programming. Yet, they do nothing because they end up getting dumbed-down themselves. That’s par for the course in a dysfunctional culture.

    1. Hey Homer!

      You are the Homer from AP, right?

      Filipinos are still stuck with the same old cr__! The media is shaping the minds of the people – conditioning them to become beholden to celebrities and powerful members of the oligarch.

      1. Hey Ilda!

        Yup, it’s me…hehe. Just thought i’d pass by and honk my horn a bit for ol’ times sake.

        Anywayz, good to see some of the ol’ faces from AP. Not so for the annoying ones. 😉

        1. WTF? I finally register, and the posts that were deleted show up. How do i delete them?

          So much for my attempt to sneak-in quietly…

      2. Hey Homer, welcome back. Yeah, for some reason your comments ended up in the spam queue. I ‘approved’ them so that hopefully whatever record or attribute your Net presence might have that Akismet doesn’t like gets cleared. 🙂

        1. Hey Benigs! Thanks for your assistance. Whatever those reasons were with the deleted comments, I knew it would eventually be resolved. I lay my trust on the fact that you always know where I stand…who i like, and who i don’t. 😉

          Keep it up. You still da man! 🙂

  8. Expensive — so true. Yet poor service. Haist. Have not been to SLEX over the past year and my was I shocked with the Toll prices. How do you expect tourism to boom if local people, even the higher middle class, complain about the toll.
    The gas prices is bad enough, and yes it seems we can’t do anything about it since it is determined by the market prices, pero the toll? GOODNESS!
    And transportation has no direct impact to prices of local commodity and growth? Sabaw ba kayo?
    To the Yellowtards and our “President”, paki review ang effect ng inflation ha? Both positive and negative.

    KABOOM!

    1. There are so many toll booths along the way even when you go to the South. It’s like a money pit. You really have to be prepared to shell out if you decide to leave the house with your car and if you want to get to your appointment on time. No wonder the commuter fares are also expensive. In fact, for a local, the standard of living is really high but you get poor service or poor quality. No wonder people appreciate the malls built near their neighbourhood even though it is an eyesore.

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