What is this ‘balanced’ reporting you speak of?

Following the apparent death of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill due to certain technicalities and delays (which are, interestingly, totally absent during the government’s relentless assault towards former Chief Justice Renato Corona), President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino III attempts to sidetrack the tension caused by his administration’s neglect by once again raising the issue of balanced, fair and objective journalism.

The president spazzing out at journalists apparently painting the Philippines in a consistently bad light is nothing new. And now, he took the liberty of refreshing our memory on how embittered he is about the way the media portrays his utopian kingdom.

In a speech he delivered during the 38th top level management conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas in Tagaytay City, Aquino stressed the importance of reporting positive stories and not just negative ones.

He said Filipinos and the country would benefit from truthful, balanced, and complete reporting, which essentially is something similar to his principles on issues about the media and the public like his favorable view on the right of reply.

(Source: Link)

PNoy has also expressed support for the Right of Reply, which is pushed by lawmakers to be included in the proposed FOI bill. Why he supports only a part of the prospective bill, which he, incidentally, will benefit hugely from, instead of supporting the bill’s entirety is a matter of, shall we say, mystery.

One thing is for certain, however; the president’s penchant for throwing tantrums when he doesn’t hear the things he want to hear, while dragging the people to his sentiments. Again and again, we have heard PNoy complaining about negative news filling up national television.

In the earlier part of his speech, Aquino said that he had observed that the media had the tendency of reporting mostly negative news.

“Sa karanasan ko po, tila ba nakasanayan na ng media ang mapaulan ng batikos sa mga lumalabas na balita. Allergic po yata ang iba sa good news-kundi man iiwasan ang mga ito, ay hahanapan naman nila ng masamang anggulo,” he said.

[In my experience, it appears that the media have gotten used to issuing a lot of criticisms on the news that comes out. It seems that some of them are allergic to good news-if they don’t avoid it, they look for the negative angle of a story.]

He said that as purveyors of truth, the media’s responsibility is to present both sides of the story from specific and verified sources.

“Bilang mga alagad ng katotohanan, ang responsibilidad po ng mga mamamahayag ay ilatag ang dalawang panig ng anumang kwento mula sa tiyak at beripikado nitong pinagmulan,” said Aquino.

He proceeds to highlight the apparent importance of presenting “balanced” news, claiming that the average Juan will be enticed to join the efforts towards a better Philippines, and that the capacity of the citizenry to form their own opinions will be given importance. Well, isn’t it dandy? The benefits of these “balanced” news sound like music to one’s ears. If only we know exactly what he means by “balanced.”

Really, how can news be called “balanced”? What are the specific parameters to quantify the balance of journalism? Alas, PNoy withholds the sacred answers from our insatiable curiosity. But let’s try to play along, for the sake of the argument. A crude response to such queries would be; if enough positive news coexists with negative ones in a consistent manner.

But this leads to another couple of questions; what is “enough”? Should the number of good news match that of the bad news? How can you even do that? But perhaps, PNoy meant that journalists should present both sides of a news article; the good and the bad. That warrants another question; to what extent? Should journalists search for a positive side about a murder or theft? What is the scope of this provision?

But then again, maybe PNoy is not really concerned with the crude quantity of good news, but with the quality and the “bigness” of the news. Like, say, the news saying that Philippines is an emerging Asian Tiger!

Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the Philippines yesterday as an “emerging Asian tiger” as he thanked President Benigno S. Aquino III for inviting him to visit the country which was last visited by a Canadian leader 15 years ago.

(Source: Link)

Ooooooh, sweet news. The Philippines is starting to get it on with foreign investors, like the current Asian Tigers! Good news, good news. We need more of this stuff! But then:

President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Executive Order No. 98 to expand the investment areas and economic activities reserved to Philippine nationals under the 9th Regular Foreign Investment Negative list, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. announced on Friday.

(Source: Link)

…which kind of defeats the requirement of being an Asian Tiger, which is to establish a market setup more conducive to budding foreign investors. But seriously, we can’t worry about that, can we? This is good news we’ve got on our hands. Let’s see, what else can we find? Oh, here’s another one; the part where the Philippines is called an “emerging Asian Tiger!” And there’s another one about the Philippines being an emergent Asian Tiger!

There just isn’t enough big good news to keep up with the president’s frenzied desire to beautify the image of the Philippines through media. And it’s not the journalists’ fault to begin with. How can journalists publish good news to match bad news when there just isn’t enough? Should they start withholding the publication of more negative news? Isn’t that intellectual dishonesty? Should they repeatedly bombard the people with this dubious Asian Tiger tagline which somehow found its way to the name of our country? Isn’t that more like propaganda now?

The president claimed that journalists do not have to worry about the Right of Reply bill, provided they observe fair and balanced reporting. But how can a journalist feel safe when he/she isn’t even aware of how the president defines “fair” or “balanced” or “complete”? Devoid of an objective and systematically defined standard, how can you be sure you’re not violating the law of the land?

What should the journalists do, PNoy, so that they won’t suffer your wrath? What should they exactly do so that they won’t meet their doom in your hands?

Alas, our president is mystical and cryptic. Ever since his ascendance to presidency, PNoy only hints us towards the straight path (the notion of which is by itself also vague), guiding us with his unfathomable wisdom. What does PNoy mean by “judicial reform”? We can only but put our faith in him. Where does the “straight path” lead to? We can only but believe.

Maybe, just maybe, the president should consider keeping his nose out of what journalists write and focus more on actually making the good news; settling the issue of the FOI bill, fixing the contradictory nature of our economy as “hospitable” to foreign investors yet expanding the negative list to serve as a “guide,” and generally not being a total jerk.

Until then, journalists would do well to tread softly on these dangerous waters, lest they incur the wrath of our equality-crazed president.

A thought just occurred to me; what if the reason we don’t run out of bad news is because PNoy himself is the bad news? Uh-oh, gotta find a positive side about this one.


About Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

Post Author: Arche

I'm just throwing ideas around. I also love coffee.

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26 Comments on "What is this ‘balanced’ reporting you speak of?"

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Obama snubs pnoy twice. ‘ bum stomach, or not able to stomach the bum’ Internationally p-noy is a lame duck and is being castigated by the investment community for being 2 faced, and for adopting increasingly protectionist measures whilst talking about openness. Pnoy simply cannot tell the truth and his betters abroad see through his transparency and detest his hypocricy ( let alone the abysmal human rights record, the impunity for friends, the smuggling and corruption which is higher than ever by a factor of 4) Result – status quo maintained, oligarchs/corrupt elite benefit, country suffers, unemployment increases, national debt… Read more »

Liz uy today says she never even got to first base wth aquino.
Theres a surprise. Has any woman!!
Aquino is almost as frightened of women as he is of … everything, especially being exposed by the press.
too late – his incompetence and laziness are now etched into the minds of the populace


Probably what he wants is “have all news reports checked by us before running them,” or “always show us in a positive light, cover up our mistakes.”

Oh Yes! There is a difference between what is balanced and level compared to the way Noynoy likes to stack the deck in his favor. Good example is what you gave with the Impeachment Trial. Weird how he always declares his opinion on guilt and innocence or who he wants for what post. Being the president he should keep his opinions to himself and let the system play out as fairly as possible. But this is the great clairvoyant Noynoy we are talking about. The maker of rules dealing with fools. My thoughts correspond with yours Arche. Though not as… Read more »

Honestly, my feeling is that what’s being reported isn’t enough.

Hyden Toro
The Canadian Prime Minister, was just talking diplomatic talk. You don’t insult your host, do you? What he mean was: we are Toothless Tiger, with Sickly Roar. Just look around you, the poverty and the way most people live. While the political leaders, live in Palatial Houses. With retinue of servants. There is a great inequality in our country… Who is the one twisting the information in the Media. It is the Aquino Media of ABS-CBN. If the Media is telling the truth. Aquino is complaining. He wants people: we are living in Aquino Wonderland…with the Hacienda Luisita as a… Read more »

And don’t ignore that Malakanyang wants more entertainment for Pinoys-of-Pilipinas. When Pinoys get entertained, then naturally Pinoys-of-Pinas talk less about PersiNoy’s KKK’s or Hacienda Luisita. So the latest — Malakanyang wants Pinoys of Pinas to be bombarded every hour of the waking day with the Ampatuan court proceedings.


It is bad enough that we have a president who has “sariling mundo”. But the thing is he wants every Filipino to live in his “sariling mundo”. And the worst thing is that more and more followers accept this. Just try reading comments on sites visited by the general public and you will see the volume of Pinoys who believe in Pnoys ‘sariling mundo”. If you commented against them, then you will be mugged (in the web) by this people with jaundice.

Lord Chimera

Seriously does this idiot of a president wants everything to be sunny with the sun smiling and beaming its radiance on everything?

bambina fernandez

Para sa akin walang good news since penoy was elected as presidenty!


“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Anyone seen Rappler’s latest attempt to discredit journalists? That’s probably what the President is talking about. So anything that criticizes the administration is irresponsible journalism. Sorry, “positive-only messages” don’t bring the country forward.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)

Arche, correct me if I am wrong, but I have the impression that Pnoy and his allies thumbed down a Right to/of Reply Bill when Gloria was in power.

Check this out. http://pinoy-buzz.com/2009/03/09/the-right-of-reply-bill-shelved/

Johnny Saint
Arche, It occurs to me that democracy in the Philippines is dead if our leaders are no longer concerned with policy but are obsessed with how to make themselves likeable to a (television) audience. The failure to pass the FOI coupled with the renewed interest in ROR effectively bars us from exercising our right to the freedom of speech. Worse, because we are denied access to information, because our desire to question is portrayed as a betrayal, we are precluded from offering a dissenting point of view. We are prevented from offering alternative insights on important issues. And from there… Read more »
A bill passed by the Senate last week would allow the government to detain the three senators Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Bong Revilla,and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada while trying to fight against possible reasons for corruption “Public Disbursement Acceleration Program” and a thousand millions and get this behind the republic, the more numerous the laws. If you change your place of residence, you have to register all over again majority of senators to accept incriminating evidence against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV vs. Vice President Jejomar Binay, Now we should, we think, be quite justified in asking them to enlighten legislation… Read more »