Here is why the ‘fake news’ scare doesn’t resonate with Filipinos…

Because of the hardship of life in Filipino society – the degree of self-imposition of such hardship is another matter – a few behaviors seem deeply ingrained in the average Filipinos’ psyche: they will take any shortcut possible (even if illegal), they will resort to penny-pinching, and they will easily buy into things whose integrity and soundness cannot be easily verified.

Some of us can remember the time when fake CD’s, VCD’s and DVD’s were all the rage (they still are). Despite “buyer beware” warnings, Filipinos still go out and buy them anyway. Why bother paying an arm and a leg for a ticket to a movie house, when I can watch from my own home? The experience? I can buy my own food, I get to sit in a comfortable chair, there are fewer people at my house, etc. The only thing is, I’m not sure if I’ll also see shadows standing up when the credits are rolling.

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Nowadays, warnings of fake rice abound. Despite assurances by rice retailers and the National Food Authority that these warnings are unfounded, naturally Filipinos will not take any perceived threat to their staple food quietly. All one needs to do is to remember the sort of criticism Senator Cynthia Villar copped when her concerns about Filipinos’ rice consumption were interpreted as “wanting to ban unlimited rice promos”.

Or maybe, they will. With some Filipinos, not even the onset of a life-threatening disease can get them to go to the hospital, much less the effects of consumption of a bogus substance. But I digress.

Now we come to fake news.

Unlike the disc with bad recording quality, or the rice with grains that behave differently, fake news is a bit harder to spot. It actually requires the content purveyors to do some additional reference checking and additional article browsing in order to verify if the report is true – activities they may not have the time or luxury for. This is something, unfortunately, that does not fit in with the Filipino penchant for katamaran (laziness); your typical Pinoy will believe anything, most especially if it jives with how he/she perceives the environment.

The expectation from mainstream media, of course, is that vetting and thoroughly scrutinizing the veracity and validity of their sources is their job. As is investigating every possible angle of a story – not just the one the media outfit’s sacred cows agree with.

For a long while, the mainstream media got away with being partisan, both for and against certain authority figures. It used to be untouchable and revered due to its supposed role in restoring Philippine “democracy”. Big media probably would have gotten away for longer with peddling its “unbalanced views” had it stopped blatantly covering up for an inescapably incompetent administration – one whose actions and results spelled bullshit no matter which angle people looked from. What is evident at this point, is that mainstream media has grossly underestimated the improved discernment of the consumers of its content. The improved discernment has come due to the rise of what used to be called the alternative media – bloggers, smaller scale news publishers, radio commentators, etc. not affiliated with the mainstream.

Rather than embrace the competition and rebalance its news reporting, however, big media has instead chosen to demonize outfits and entities who chip away at its perceived credibility, and who don’t put it on a pedestal that its leading constituents think it is infallibly entitled to. The cry of “fake news” has fallen flat, because content consumers believe the mainstream is just as culpable of chugging it out as the ones it accuses of doing so. While mainstream media makes a big deal of alternative media making lapses, its constituents generally consistently fail to own up to theirs. If ever an apology has been issued for erroneous, slanted, or malicious reporting, it is not because the action was regretted – it is only because the culprit was caught red-handed, or because someone who shouldn’t have been offended was.

The advent of social media has made information much, much easier to obtain and access. These days, content consumers are increasingly browsing news and opinion sites not just to get information, but to validate their own opinions and points of view. It seems that mainstream media has been unable to adopt to this consumer behavior; in all futility, it still believes that holds a monopoly on its ability to shape opinion and influence the behavior and worldview of the consumer public.

It is up to big media to figure out how it can salvage whatever is left of its credibility. One thing is for sure; the mainstream cannot claim to be at the forefront of “a thirst for change” if it refuses to adapt to the ever-changing reality.

What happens to animals that cannot adapt to the new conditions of their environment? They simply die out. It is generally believed that that was what happened to the dinosaurs.

[Photo courtesy: BBC]

7 Replies to “Here is why the ‘fake news’ scare doesn’t resonate with Filipinos…”

  1. I could name at least one case where mass media contributed to fake news deliberately: the Filipinos chocolate fracas. Someone wrote an article in the Philippine Star claiming the maker of Filipinos products ran an ad of “brown outside, white inside” thought to be a snipe at Filipino colonial mentality. A diplomatic protest was filed, and even then-president Joseph Estrada was suckered into making a statement. But it turns out that the reports was fake and the Filipinos makers never ran a “brown outside, white inside” ad; it was all made up. That was a laughable move by the Filipino government and people at the time .

    I’ll not forget too how Inquirer ran the headline implying that Mary Jane Veloso already died, and printing the fake Time magazine cover showing Aquino doing the “nganga.” hehe

  2. The Dinosaurs became extinct, because they have big bodies and small brains. The cockroach survived the “Dinosaur era”, because: it is small; it can run fast; and it eats anything…

    Mainstream media are large, with big yearly budgets; and some of them “prostitute” themselves , as political propagandists of amoral politicians. Some really, are purveyors of Fake News; to grab headlines, or for some other wicked purpose….

    Maria Ressa’s is a good example. reported that the insane attacker of the Casino Resort was an ISIS. It turned out, the ISIS was an IPIS, as one blogger wrote.

    Some of the Mainstream media like ABS-CBN , Inquirer, etc…are propaganda machines of the Aquino Cojuangco political axis. They were responsible for “sanitizing” the stink of the Aquino Cojuangco regime. They demonize their political opponents, also.

    This was the reason , Cory Aquino, is being recommended for Sainthood. Ninoy Aquino, Jr., became a martyr…and Hacienda Luisita issue was covered, as a vital political issue…

    The times has changed, the Information Technology was God’s “gift to mankind”…people have alternative sources of news, from the internet… Some of the Filipinos, became: bloggers, trolls, web blog writers, etc…and they informed their fellow Filipinos of vital information.

    It also taught us, to be use our brain/common sense, in believing whatever is given to us as information by the mainstream media…

    Now, people finally awakened, and taking control of their country…

  3. The biggest fake news in the post-Marcos era is Cory’s supposed restoration of democracy from Marcos dictatorship. Cory was bringing then this country to an inevitable chaos and/or civil war.

    1. Ngek Ngek,

      What makes you a pro-Marcos loyalist?

      EDSA was the biggest mistake and Martial Law was paradise and the best thing what Cherry Cobarrubias said.

  4. @Propaganda Boy:

    What makes you a TROLL?

    EDSA was the biggest mistake and Martial Law is just two sides of the same coin. If you think your SHITPOSTING is the best thing then be my guest, son.

  5. We all know, that is one of the consequences of the weak sense of responsibility of the Failipino press. The Failipino press does not feel responsibility for its judgments. It makes judgments and attaches labels with the greatest of ease. Mediocre Failipino journalists simply make headlines of their conclusions, which suddenly become generally accepted.

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