Everything seems to be going downhill with the younger generation. There only very few of the Old Guard left in Philippine journalism. The batch born in 1986 are the last trained by industry stalwarts such such as Max Soliven, Louie Beltran, Amang Bigornia, Pocholo Romualdez and the like. Other veterans are columnists. Unfortunately the New Guard who are on top now have grown more comfortable with the perks provided by their patrons, who aren’t necessarily the owners of the broadsheets they work for. The batches which came after cut their teeth as stringers with the wire services. More privileges there. Then there is the woke culture, which is pervasive among their lot. “Journalist-activists” they now describe themselves. Never mind if there is no objectivity in reporting when they bring their “activism” into their work. What is important to them is their so-called “moral obligation” to themselves.
It is ironic how they don’t see the hypocrisy in the way they write puff pieces for their patrons and in the lame commentary they let loose on their personal social media accounts where they call out the government. Leading the pack are the pseudo-nationalists of Rappler followed by what remains of ABS-CBN News. There are the others in the Manny Pangilinan (MVP) media empire, composed of The Star, Business World and the TV5 network. Reporters are following in the footsteps of their broadcast brethren. They package themselves as brands and groups. This is all in an effort to bargain collectively for those in need of their “services.”
It was ABS-CBN again that began this trend. It is also why we are now suffering from journalistic mediocrity. You have interns starting out at the bottom-rung of the career ladder writing leads for social media posts. The results are horrifying in terms of the errors they commit. From the very basic bad grammar to the extreme incoherence of one who reported actress Ara Mina “marrying Baguio City”. Back in the day, this would not happen. If it did, you can be sure that you’d be seeing your last day on the job soon. This is why the public has become weary of mainstream media outlets. In turn, this has fuelled the rise of the independents who dare to point out discrepancies and provide the public with fair and accurate reports.
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Small wonder that the industry has all but lost the respect of the Filipino public. Filipino journalists have become information counterfeiters at worst, mindless “stenographers” at best as Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao points out in his piece today “Colonial mentality and stenographic journalism in PH media”…
“Stenographic journalism” is an old term in the industry when everyone knew what a stenographer was – somebody whose job is to record mindlessly what people say whether in a court or in an office. It is a job that requires mindlessness. If a stenographer stops to think about the meaning of words he hears, he is slowed down and even makes mistakes.
Stenographic journalism is when a media man merely reports what somebody says without mentioning other things that could even belie what that somebody said. We have examples right in this paper, made worse by the fact these reports were banner stories, i.e., considered the most important news for that day.
It is strangely ironic that in the age of easy access to information, disinformation is prevalent. Claims that press freedom is being curtailed in the country are lies. If this were true then why would these “journalists” still be able to practice with impunity? Another irony that escapes most is that, today, it is ordinary Filipinos being labelled as “trolls” and the administration being accused of funding “troll armies”. In reality, both sides are guilty of the practice. This is why you have Vice President Leni Robredo being the choice of Tweetizens as President. The rise of social media is both a boon and a bane. It gives those with noble intentions the platform to call out fake news and spinned stories but also gives rise to the unscrupulous who prey on the gullible with disinformation.
Watching an old clip of Louie Beltran’s interview with former Vice President Doy Laurel shows you the difference between real journalism and the faux variety which is the norm today. This is why Karen Davila is such a bad example. She, together with Arnold Clavio and Jiggy Manicad were the first batch of newbie reporters under Beltran when Brigada Siete aired. Apparently, Davila has been influenced more by famewhoring than the journalistic principles that Beltran was known for. The same is true with US media. The most blatant example is the whole Donald Trump versus Joe Biden campaign. Trump was under the journalistic microscope for his term. Biden isn’t subject to the same scrutiny. The same is true in the Philippine context. President Rodrigo Duterte has been vilified for the last five years by both local and foreign media. This is all because he has the temerity to call out the US for its policy toward its former colony.
You can expect the worst in the campaign for 2022. The truth is there are more mercenaries masquerading as journalists nowadays. The worst part is, most of them aren’t intellectuals like the Old Guard, who had principles. There was also mutual respect then between journalists and their politician-friends that is lost today in “journalists” who would rather moralize than do their jobs of informing their audience.
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