Filipino “journalists” need to be a bit more data-driven and, on that, apply a more scientific approach to arriving at their conclusions. The latest circus surrounding that kiss is a good case study in highlighting the banal lazy journalism that has become today’s journalistic normal. One of the first off the mark to “report” on the infamous kiss planted on the lips of an OFW by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a meet-and-greet in South Korea is “social news network” Rappler. The report bore the title “Cheers, disgust as Duterte kisses OFW in South Korea”.
Just going by that title, the average reader would get the impression that the immediate reaction of onlookers who were direct witnesses to all that would be an actual mix of “cheers” and “disgust”. But in the actual report itself, a minor clarification spelt a whole world of difference (boldface added for emphasis by the author)…
President Rodrigo Duterte ended his meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea by kissing an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on the lips – a move that drew cheers from the audience but disgust from some netizens.
It turns out the “disgust” reported by Rappler came from “some netizens” and not from the actual witnesses who were present at the event. The author of the “report” (who wasn’t even named) seems to have put equal weight on the observations of “some netizens” as that of the actual people who were there to observe what happened with their own eyes. Worse, it is very likely that this sample of “some netizens” was cherry-picked to suit the partisan agenda that likely underpinned this “report”.
In essence, this piece of Rappler “journalism” is dishonest at a number of levels:
(1) It deliberately aimed to mislead readers by giving the impression that the opinion of “netizens” tweeting from their armchairs hold equal weight to the responses of direct observers of an event who were actually there.
(2) Sample set used to imply a conclusion — those “some netizens” cited by Rappler — does not constitute a random sample and is, as such, an inappropriate test of a hypothesis.
(3) The set Rappler cites as “some netizens” is not only not random but very likely consists of cherry picked elements from Netizens known to harbour sentiment in line with the partisan agenda of Rappler‘s editorial management.
Rappler is not merely content to report the news and is in the habit of editorialising within news reports thus blurring the line between what constitutes its news desk and its op-ed desks. Their practice violates the single biggest pillar of journalism which is to inform people of what is true and warn them of falsity. Rappler cannot do that if it continues to report in this manner.
The girlettes of Rappler should take some lessons from real scientists — people who apply the scientific method to systematically evaluate empirical data so that a sound conclusion is arrived at. In the case of this latest circus, whoever is assigned to report on The Kiss, should get off her lazy ass and collect real data in accordance with accepted standards applied by statisticians such as, among others, (1) sample data collected randomly to control for bias, (2) ensuring the sample size is large enough to be representative of the population at an acceptable level of confidence, (3) a hypothesis that is well-defined and highlighted clearly is presented, and (4) measures used to evaluate the data are declared and clearly-defined.
In this case, the hypothesis to be tested is whether or not Filipinos really give a shit about Duterte kissing an OFW in the lips. The measure of the amount of shit Filipinos give to this “issue” requires a bit of scientific work. How exactly do you measure how much of a shit Filipinos give about circuses spun by “news” organisations like Rappler? You need real math to come up with real information. Unfortunately for Rappler it does not seem to employ the right sort of Rapplerettes for that kind of analysis — which is why dishonesty seems to be the preferred path taken when “reporting” the news.
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