Zombie panic! When will Philippine Media own up to the routinely irresponsible journalism it feeds to Filipinos?

The Philippine province of Pangasinan continues to reel from the aftermath of a fatal scoop propagated by giant media conglomerate ABS-CBN through its tele-tabloid Bandila. The “scoop” involved reports that victims of a “terrible flesh-eating disease” were found in Pangasinan and that the disease as “prophesied” would engulf the rest of the planet and cause humanity hideous suffering.

The disturbing story immediately started a storm on Twitter, with the hashtag #PrayforPangasinan being the country’s top trending topic for most of the day, even long after the story was revealed by anxious provincial and Department of Health officials to be a complete hoax — the two victims (“two” being a rather small number for an epidemic of any sort) were immediately hospitalized after the story was aired by ABS-CBN, whereupon it was discovered the first, a young woman, was suffering from the combined effects of leprosy and an adverse reaction to some medication, whereas the male “victim” had nothing more than a severe case of psoriasis.

Zombie apocalypse: Bandila news presenter Jasmin Romero
Zombie apocalypse: Bandila news presenter Jasmin Romero
In the words of media watchdog Spin Busters, all scary stuff, yes, but “nothing beats a pandemic of reckless reporting.” Indeed, Philippine media folk may have likely killed more Filipinos from their armchairs than any of these imaginary outbreaks.

We only need to recall the appalling carnage in the 2010 massacre of nine Hong Kong tourists in Manila by gunman Rolando Mendoza. We have to thank the “heroics” of the Philippine Media for that. In their pursuit of lucrative scoops under the banner of their self-appointed role of “guardians of truth and freedom”, the Media played a pivotal role not only in triggering the fatal descent into chaos of Mendoza’s hostage drama but also provided the world with a front-row look into the banal ineptness that has come to be associated (now even more indelibly) with the word “Filipino”.

Media’s role in that massacre was fatal. Radio Mindanao Network anchor Jake Maderazo’s description of the job of a “reporter” as “an end in itself” illustrates the deadly attitude of Filipino journalists. Apparently this “job” comes first in any situation, even situations that endanger human lives. Pressed by Filipino-Chinese community representative Teresita Ang-See with the rhetorical statement “No profession should ever be more important than (saving) human lives and more important than showing what was happening inside (the bus)” to highlight the fatal role the Media played in the botched handling of the Mendoza hostage crisis, Maderazo only had this to say…

“That’s true, but it’s not our fault. We just did our job to report,” […]

Interestingly, the scripted words of Bandila mop-up newsreader Julius Babao following the flesh-eating germ fiasco as revealed by Spin Busters echoes this criminal attitude yet again: “Hindi po intensyon ng programang ito na manakot, kundi ilahad lamang ang mga nakalap naming impormasyon para mabigyan ng karampatang aksyon ng mga kinauukulan.” (Translated: “It was not our intention to scare people but to deliver to the public the information we gathered to spur the appropriate action”).

Any hope of an apology from ABS-CBN in the near future? We really shouldn’t hold our breath. It’s been four years since the Hong Kong tourist massacre and even as the Hong Kong government breathes down Filipinos’ necks as it waits for an apology from their government, nobody in Philippine Media, for their part, has owned up to any sort of accountability for the tragedy. No heads have rolled. No fines have been exacted. No media personality is in prison.

Hardly surprising then that the ABS-CBN Network remains silent on the national panic they have caused. No apologies have been issued. No heads have rolled. Nobody has been thrown in prison.

The days of Media self-adulation as “heroes” of the “people’s” right to information are over. Regardless of any “debate” around whether the death of eight Chinese foreign tourists or blatantly wrong “reporting” on the basis of sloppy research is Media’s fault or not is no longer relevant.

Public perception is the judge and jury today.

It is ironic that an industry that derived its power from a monopolistic control over public perception now finds itself stared down by the very perception it once played a key role in whipping up at its convenience.

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26 Comments on “Zombie panic! When will Philippine Media own up to the routinely irresponsible journalism it feeds to Filipinos?”

  1. What ever happened to broadcast media professionalism? The very irresponsible news reporting of ABS-CBN is very apparent when it did not even bother to investigate and verify the facts. A panic was created by ABS-CBN! Who are accountable? ABS-CBN should be investigated by the government for its lapses and liabilities!

    1. wont happen bro… remember ABS-CBN is part of the Aquino machine. we will have to wait till their protection is gone before any type of investigation will happen

      although i find it funny, GMA had a field day with this blunder. watched several reports where they emphasized that there should be “more responsible reporting” and “there is no outbreak”. they didnt say it, it was the interviewees who did, but of course im sure GMA veered them to answer that question.

      not saying what GMA did is wrong, heck i think its a natural reaction. but i cant help but laugh at how they pounced on that mistake XD

  2. KSP is the root of all evil. I came up with that saying while sifting through the aftermath of that infamous night August 2010. As for Feb 2014 with ABS CBN , Allow to me to quote from a radio show I regularly listen to. ” First and wrong is still first”. Then again this is the station whose on the air employees end up in Malacanang. Which really reeks of something. I will let the discriminating among you figure that out.

  3. Philippine media has become nothing but a joke nowadays..

    And the way how the public is eating this crap is beyond my understanding…

  4. When one watches the dumb shit on TV here that is being spoon fed to Filipinos 24/7, one does not have to wonder why the news sucks ass too. The standard of TV programs like noon time shows, dramas or pudding headed fantasy shows here is for 5 year old children. Oh, let me correct that. In Europe, even a 5 year old would not watch this crap. Then comes the news which is nothing but a propaganda machine infused with “if it bleeds, it leads” tidbits and to put the cherry on the turd, showbiz news. Just the fact that they have to squeeze this showbiz garbage in between actual news should tell one the intelligence of the average viewer. Without the moronic stories about entertainment people who fight and fuck each other, probably no one would watch the real news anyway. So why wonder about reckless reporting?

  5. That people believe the bull-shit, is the retarded part.
    A sucker is born every minute, true dat…BUT THE WHOLE COUNTRY? Holy shit, anyone who believes this crap really is an idiot….
    The morons at the hostage crisis that day who, caused the deaths of those tourists should be thrown in jail, especially that idiot who tied up the phone line between Mendoza and the cops. I bet there are a few HK’ers who’d like for that guy to come to HK for a visit. I was there that day, right down the block at 12:30 just after it all started.I left about an hour later. I knew it would not end well and did not want to see it. I knew they PNP would screw that up, and boy did they….like real life idiots in uniforms. Funniest part(I know it wasn’t funny,OK?)? When Mendoza threw the smoke grenade back at the idiot who threw it in the bus too soon. Keystone cops…..

  6. The fiasco was like as if the over-the-top, satirical media parodies in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series came into reality.

    Now if only that someone with the guts and knowhow can do a signal-jamming operation…

      1. Which leads to another question: Why hasn’t Rockstar Games produced a GTA game based in Manila? Wherein foreigners can pluck down their $60 to experience the virtual and existing harsh living in this country.

        1. Pre, Rockstar will face tons of “persona ingrata” from every sector of the Philippine society, claiming that crime isn’t that bad.

          On the other hand, it may turn up to be a good publicity for Rockstar, fueling sales of their “Manila” edition.

          BTW, the avatar of Rockstart might realisitically simulate Manila to the point that GTA avatar might suddenly got hit and ran by speeding buses!

        2. @OnesimusUnbound: Filipinos will get butthurt at first, then they will buy the game because it’s a GTA game, that’s for sure.

  7. Apparently, some members of the media who know what questions to ask are snuffed out like a cigarette butt. I am referring to some journalists who asked Pnoy in a press briefing in Cebu about the pace of rehab works in the typhoon stricken areas.

    He cannot even have the right answers for that journalists and I wonder why we let him become president. Parang basagulerong bading e!

  8. The Philippine Media is owned by the Oligarchs. They play with the minds of the people. Brainwash them; to make them more dumb than Aquinos YellowTards.
    The way how Aquino bribed the Senators, in impeaching Chief Justice Corona, should have been a good news. The situation by which Aquino is a partner of the Oligarchs; and a silent partner of the NPA Mafia is a good news also.

    However, the Media is now a diversionary tool of Aquino’s incompetence, irresponsibility and corruption.

  9. I remember in the late 70s of a bank holdup in Cubao where the criminals holed themselves inside the bank while the police tried to get inside. The radio reporters were describing the police operation on air which the robbers picked up on the radio inside the bank. The event ended up with all hostages and robbers dead and two police casualties. I never forgot this incident because I blamed the radio reporters who just wanted to get the “scoop” at the expense of the hostages.

  10. The TV/media are dangerous because so many people believe them. Go into most government offices and we’ve paid for the TV’s the employees watch vs. serving/working all under the guise of the tv’s for the customers. This alone is very telling of the country, does everyone need to be constantly entertained to function as an adult?

    Not apologizing to HK will not go away, the world knows about it and HK is waiting to see how it will be resolved. Not holding persons accountable is an internal problem but no apology to the victims is wrong on many levels.

  11. Is it to late to ask if someone can kill the weed that is ABS-CBN? I would like to watch the whole news station bombed and those propaganda waving assholes to get shot in the head. Enough toying with the lives of Filipino people and making them so uneducated with their brainwashing. Hell some of them are running for pres. that is complete bull.

  12. walang kwenta itong abs cbn nagpapalusot pa…. walang pakialam kahit magkagulo basta lang sure na makakuha ng mataas na rating… ang pagbabalita meron kaakibat na responsibilidad… di yan lalasunin nyo isip ng tao….dapat dyan kay julius babao balatan ng buhay at ipako sa crus

  13. The ABS-CBN and other Philippine media get their bread and butter from the 70% uneducated Filipino population and therefore this gullible portion of the people of the Philippines will believe whatever these horrible media feed them. Their (media) irresponsibility is just beyond me. They turn everything in Filipino society into nauseating show-biz culture hence the poor quality of our politicians and social media.

  14. The Philippine media now reports for ratings and no longer for public service. They evolved to an autonomous entity that only thinks for their own benefit.

    This statement is harsh but below are some examples why i said so.
    1. Ces Drilon and Susan Enriquez risked their safety and gave the government that time a pain in the ass when they got abducted by the abu sayaf. They did that for their ratings.
    2. During the peninsula siege, media people who where arrested after the operation claimed their arrests are suppressing of human rights. For information, in a hostage rescue operation like that an sop is to cuff both hostages and hostage takers to prevent further violence.
    3. Just mentioned by other who commented, the Grandstand hostage crisis. The media even showed to the public where the assaulting swat team made their entry. If the hostage taker was a hardliner terrorist, he/she already engaged the authorities before they came near the bus or at worst executed the hostages first.
    4. They acted like children and asked for popular support during the ampatuan issue.

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