“The sun in your Eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing”
What’s the difference between William Esposo of the Philippine StarÂ writing about Noynoy Aquino and aÂ 13 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert.Â One is a high pitched shrieking bundle of nerves who cries and screamsÂ at the mere suggestion of theirÂ idol, the other is a teenager.Â I fully expect 13 year old girls to inundate GRP at any moment not wanting to be compared to Esposo.
To both my readers who actually pay attention, you might be getting deja vu right now. I brought up Mr. Esposo here. In it I describe local journalists fawning over Noynoy and how wrong that is for you and me. Esposo’s recent defense ofÂ Â Â RA 10175Â laced with BS Aquino lavishing just begged for some scrutiny since nobody but Momblogger were waving any red flags.
Since The Philippine Star won’t warn you or put any disclaimers on Esposo let your friendly neighborhood Gogs do it.Â Inquirer is proud of their Fearless ViewsÂ and they are proud of theirÂ Conrado ‘Noynoy is Aragorn‘ De QuirosÂ Â Â Â . If De Quiros is fearless about anything it is about being seen as a grossly compromised scribe by people who know better. That’s the thing with commercial mass media, at the risk of sounding Marxist the bigger the audience the more tempting it is to doctor their message.Â The only way to combat misinformation is through information and put things in proper context. Then again this is the Philippines where more people care about that Gundam robot dance crazeÂ than getting informed.
I highly recommend reading the Society of Professional Journalists Code Of Ethics. I don’t know it by heart but even with a rudimentary understanding of the principles of true journalism I know coverage here is so fundamentally wrong.Â Â Events like the unfortunate August 23 2010 Hostage incidentÂ Â Â Â Â gave me an epiphany. That KSP is the root of all evil. Our reporters for these big events are more ambulance chasers than they are journalists. Details in my blog.
The aforementioned Code of Ethics are not laws however or even licensing requirements. They are just guidelines to ensure proper public service. You can make the argument that since when has any institution in this country rendered proper public service. Then goes to follow that news outlets are just following the lead of any other institution here in failing the public. Proud to be PINOY!!!!!!!
Ideally a news outlet should complyÂ these guidelines but this is the land of the Jeepney Driver mentality:
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
â€”Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
â€” Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
â€” Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
â€” Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
â€” Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
â€” Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
â€” Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
Let’s take the first three.
Â Â Â “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
â€” Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
â€” Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment. ” –
Noynoy takes time out of his “busy” presidential schedule and supports the book launch of Mr.Esposo.Â Do you really think Esposo will ever be critical of Noynoy? Not that he ever has in the past to my knowledge but the culture of conflict of interest as far as Noynoy is concerned has always been on display for all to see.Â The Grace Padaca episodeÂ Â just hammers home my perception that Noynoy damns all protocol and procedure like the way a spoiled child damns all efforts to disclipline them. Unfortunately the public and the press (who represent the public) are playing the role of enabler parents.
“Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.”
That’s what the code says. This is Esposo’s idea of holding Noynoy accountable “We have no such worries with President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) because he would not defile the memory of his father and mother by resorting to something oppressive or repressive.”Â Two years into Noynoy’s term that has seen him make a mockery of Chinese tourists being killedÂ Â , butchering legal procedure on his CaptainÂ Ahab type obsessionÂ Â , giving theÂ nation a reason to make a word to describe his perceived inactivityÂ Â and inflicting his trademark disorganizationÂ on theÂ Â Â Scarborough Shoal Crisis. Esposo assured usÂ October 18 2012 that Noynoy will do his parents proud and their names will not be defiled.Â Does he not read his own newspaper?Â Â Months beforeÂ the May 2010 election I ran across this blogÂ Â of an ordinary individual in full support of Noynoy Aquino. I found it naive at the time. Compare it with Esposo’s take on Noynoy two and a half years later and that’s with the advantage of hindsight. Esposo is obviously showing less objectivity towards Noynoy than Allan BantilesÂ Â Â showed towards Jaime Garcia. I read that piece and three words come to mind “Get A Room“.Â This guy is supposed to be credible??
Esposo said “I donâ€™t buy the usual line of my media colleagues that RA 10175 will have a chilling effect.” What he is saying all those people that protestedÂ October 9 2012 and succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order wasted their time. Is EsposoÂ in tune with reality or is he picking petals off a daisy saying “Noy Loves Me , Noy Loves Me Not,Â Â Noy Loves Me , Noy Loves Me Not….”
“E-martial law – thatâ€™s how the hysterical objectors called RA 10175. In their hysteria they demonstrated their fears that are mostly based on imagined curtailment of press freedom “. So he accuses people of getting hysterical. No where in his editorial that Esposo even graze the fact that many senators claimed the libel portion was snuck in. Â Â . On the subject of “imagined curtailment”Â Â Â Â Esposo has a very different view fromÂ Â JJ Disini of the UP College of LawÂ Â Â who describes the possibility of website take down. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before in this regime.Â Â Â Esposo in trying to make a case for over reaction never once touched on the possible skullduggery that might have occured in getting the law passed. All throughout Esposo’s editorial if you took out Noynoy’s name and insertedÂ Â Pedro CalungsodÂ Â Â and you took out Esposo’s byline and put in the name ofÂ Gaudencio RosalesÂ Â you might not even suspect anything was up for a few minutes.
This is still a free country as of now and you are welcome to believe I am being crab or negative or ingit or whatever childish adjective. Alternatively you might think by educating you of what can be then maybe a few of us can expect better news coverage. A third group will think of me as a dreamer.
Basketball is king in the Philippines and it is in that arena where I take a real life example of how the appearance of a conflict of interest scenario can work and did work. I took this from one of the best selling sports books of all time A Season On The Brink by John Feinstein. Your typical pinoy for all their basketball tunnel vision only knows two American coaches: Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. They consider Erik Spoelstra a pinoy even if they can’t get into a conversation with him. So don’t be kicking yourself if you don’t know Bobby Knight.
Sitting near Hammel during an Indiana game was worth the price of admission in itself. Hammel had missed exactly two games in Knight’s fifteen seasons at Indiana. Although he had not graduated from the school, he was about as loyal to it as any alumnus could be. This was especially true in the case of his relationship with Knight.
They were an interesting couple, Knight and Hammel. The writer was four years older than the coach and was as gentle as the coach was vitriolic. Even though other writers knew how close the two were, Hammel was rarely disparaged for this relationship in a business where this kind of relationship is always frowned upon.
Part of the reason for their tolerance was the simple understanding that no sports editor in Bloomington could survive if he was ever cut off from the Indiana basketball team. If you can’t cover that which interests your readers more than anything else, you aren’t going to beÂ Â Â valuable to the paper for very long. And everyone who knows Knight at all knows that one is not allowed to be neutral in a relationship with him. You are either for us or against us. Hammel, whose sympathies were bound to lie with Indiana andÂ Knight in most cases anyway, had made the decision years ago that he was with Knight.
The other reason few people disparaged Hammel was Hammel. Not only was his basketball knowledge respectedÂ but he was generally considered a true gentleman in a business often sorely lacking in them. Some hometown writer allow their prejudices to affect what they write about other teams. Hammel never did that. He wasn’t about to attack Knight, but he didn’t run around attacking other people unfairly either.
Hammel is a good newspaperman. He is one of those people who can write the entire paperâ€”his prolificness is legendaryâ€”lay it out and write all the headlines if necessary.
So the Knight/ Hammel story suggests that the tightrope between friendship and covering a subject fairly can be done. The problem is Bob Hammel was very very good at his job. Basketball though important to some is not as important as covering the land’s highest elected official. I think I can make the case that William Esposo is not very very good at his job.
William Esposo is a bona fide Noynoy apologist and lacks any kind of discretion on the issue to form a critical opinion.Â His drooling over Noynoy makes me wants toÂ “wreck a chair ” in a specific location .Â In the words of John LennonÂ you may say I’m a dreamer to wish the Philippines adopt practices for proper journalist ethics, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you will join us, William Esposo and the world will be as one. Is that libel?
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