Nothing, really. But according to the Girls’ Club that is today’s mainstream Big Corporate News Media, Ressa is “a journalist in the Philippines whose news site, Rappler, has been threatened by the country’s authoritarian president, Rodrigo Duterte”. And so, on that dubious “achievement” reported by no less than chi chi New York Times, she gets to drop the ball on New Years Eve. In New York. Pun intended.
Being recognised for an “achievement” defined by a comrade within the same embattled industry is quite rich considering this is a business where objectivity as disinterested observers is what underlies trust in content being published. Ressa and her Rappler had long ago broke this trust by making themselves the subject of their own “news” reporting and, most astounding of all, roping in buddies in the industry — including the New York Times, no less — to propagate this sort of dishonest “journalism”. The “reporters” in this case are anything but disinterested. And that is the short of it.
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This is the real ball that was dropped in 2018. Ressa and her cronies have fatally-tainted the profession of journalism by engaging in this insidious campaign to raise their profile as “activists” fighting for “press freedom”. They are no longer acting as journalists and, instead, putting forth more of an activist brand. Indeed, to those unblinkered by this crooked song-and-dance, “fighting” for a “cause” within which one has a financial interest in is a conflict of interest. Rappler and the New York Times are essentially reporting on an issue that involves an aspect that they have a potential for financial gain in positioning favourably. They are not acting in the public’s interest in this instance but in their own with an inherent intent to profit financially.
What Maria Ressa really is is an embarrassment to then journalism profession. If there were such a thing as a Journalism Ombudsman (and it is high time that such an office be organised) she should be issued a citation for unprofessional behaviour and given the equivalent of a disbarment from the practice. As she and her amigas keep pointing out, reporting the news properly has never been more important than now, in an age where “truth”, as they themselves point out, is “under attack”. The fact is, Ressa and her cohorts are the first ones guilty of undermining the very profession that should step up to that challenge.
One wonders, though, what the other true professionals in the practice of real journalism are doing about the Maria Ressa Problem. Are they just going to stand aside quietly while Ressa and her dishonest minions hijack and corrupt their otherwise noble vocation? It’s time real journalists act with real courage and speak out.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.