Subjectivism in Media
The President wants
media organizations to be subjective in their reports, insisting that the
“good news” must be given due prominence.
BY DANILO ARAŃA ARAO
Macapagal-Arroyo this week chided media practitioners for not giving due
prominence to good news, especially at this time when there are allegedly
so many “good news” that must be disseminated to the people.
“The good news is
needed at this time to give more investors confidence in the country,” she
said last November 16 at the 32nd Top Level Management
Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP,
Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines).
She wants what she
considers to be the “good news” to hog the headlines in much the same way
that the “bad news” usually does, arguing, "(G)ood news tended to be found
anywhere but on the front pages of newspapers."
The President claimed
that media organizations tend to headline issues like political killings
and to bury in the inside pages the arrest and detention of those
allegedly responsible for them. “Sana naman kapag sila ay nahuhuli at
naprepreso pareho ang headline gaya ng kung noong nagpatay sila ng taga-media
(It is hoped that when they are arrested and jailed, it would make the
headlines just as when they killed the journalists),” she said.
A selective scanning,
however, of the media’s treatment of the killings of activists and
journalists shows that there is equal prominence given to the developments
surrounding the events. For example, the conviction of the killer of
journalist Edgar Damalerio was prominently reported in the media. It is
safe to assume that an in-depth research with a broader scope on the
treatment of political killings through the years would show the efforts
of media organizations to report not just the actual killings but also the
efforts to solve them.
It is likely that
Macapagal-Arroyo is unaware that journalists generally do not make any
distinction between “the good and the bad” in terms of stories to write.
Guided by the elements of news, they choose their stories mainly on the
basis of their significance to the people’s lives. It is not the
responsibility of journalists – moral or otherwise – to highlight the good
news purportedly to make people feel better.
That the mass media
tend to highlight problems simply reflects the social crisis besetting
Philippine society. While it is practically impossible for mass media to
report all events happening in society (thus failing to exactly mirror
it), the mass media nevertheless can provide a glimpse of the national
situation through a selective presentation of issues and concerns.
In order to be
objective, this selection must be based on the various elements of news
like prominence and oddity, as well as ethics of the journalism
profession. There is a tendency to be subjective if the criteria of “good”
and “bad” were used, for the simple reason that these concepts are subject
to a person’s interpretation.
The same is true for
the angling of stories since journalists cannot be compelled to highlight
the positive and to bury (or even not report) the negative. This is like
providing consolation to readers when reporting in a vain attempt to make
them feel better despite the nature of a social problem.
clearly does not want an objective mass media, but a subjective one to
fulfill the administration’s agenda of not just getting investor
confidence, but of making people feel better through the inundation of
so-called good news, totally ignoring the important issues that they
should know. Bulatlat
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© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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