In a Facebook post, a veteran journalist cited the litany of sins that the mainstream media has committed against Filipinos in a daily basis.
Jojo Robles of the Manila Standard asserts that “these are the same reasons why the mainstream press, in the age of social media, has become largely irrelevant.”
But, he said there is still time for the mainstream media to earn the public’s trust again, just like the old times and the perfect time is now.
Misleading headlines. Editorialized photo captions. Opinionated ledes. One-sided reports and their evil siblings, suppressed or even missing same-day replies to the most serious of charges. De-emphasized stories relegated to the inside pages or one-line end-of-broadcast mentions. Or stories, photos and videos “spiked” altogether, never to see print or airtime.
These are the daily sins of the news trade. These are the same reasons why the mainstream press, in the age of social media, has become largely irrelevant.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Media can still serve its true and noble purpose of being the mirror of a nation, of enabling a nation that is talking frankly to itself.
As long as media keeps choosing the easy slavery of light labor in the perfumed garden of the elite over the freedom of reflecting the people’s ideals, thoughts and aspirations in the dirty, unruly and boisterous real world, it will never be truly free. And it is a slavery, unfortunately, that the media chooses of its own volition.
“The freest media in Asia” is a myth that people in my line of work proudly proclaim. Media in this country is a really willing slave to oligarchic interests who hold the purse-strings, and who only protect their oligarchic interests at the expense of the upliftment of an entire nation.
And media knows all about its servitude to narrow elitist interests. It cannot claim ignorance of its voluntary servility.
It self-censors itself. It grovels before the high and mighty. It chases profit, pushes partisan political interests and protects the ownership above all, even at the expense of the truth, reality, ethics and even common sense.
I spent my entire career working in the press and have also at various times been guilty of these same sins of which I speak. I do not speak now to expose the past and to praise my own virtues (haha) but to show the way forward.
If media continues on this path of denial, it is doomed. There may still be time to charge course, to get back to the real purpose of a free press. It can still get in touch with the people and in the process save its own soul.
But it has to start now. One headline, lede, caption, photo, story, interview, fact-check, voice clip, video, edit, issue and newscast at a time.