Monday, October 6, 2008

ABS-CBN and the Philippine Media

An Editorial of Bohol Sunday Post Newspaper

One of the positive developments to come out of the recent Court of Appeals (CA) scandal was the reporting trend which ABS-CBN brought into motion. Definitely, it was a learning experience for the giant broadcast company as it is for the rest of the Philippine media .

 In case people missed it, ABS-CBN always indicated in its news reports on the controversy that the broadcast firm was a sister company of Meralco. In doing so, viewers are sufficiently informed about the relationship between the newsmaker and the news reporter.

 That was a laudable act in the sense that people will not miss the connection. In the event that ABS-CBN's report reflected bias, the reason for it would be obvious. ABS-CBN would not be guilty of hypocrisy and the viewers would not be taken for a ride.

 This experience should prod people in the media industry to do the same whenever there is an issue where their objectivity is put in question. Try as they might to insist that they are being objective, it is not for them to say so.

 For instance, if a media organization goes hammer and thong against a public servant over a controversy involving his business interest, he should be decent enough to follow the lead of ABS-CBN.

 In the CA controversy, ABS-CBN's reporting was admirable, so admirable in fact that even Meralco's staunchest critics did not raise a howl. In showing unusual objectivity and fairness, ABS-CBN came out the winner in that episode.

 That brings to mind issues close to home in cases when people in media are suspected of using the organization at their disposal to advance and protect their business interest. To prevent such suspicions, they can learn a thing or two from ABS-CBN on how to handle the reportage.

 The days of simply distorting news to suit one's whim is over. These days, people have lots of alternative ways to know the real score so biased reporting is a dangerous proposition.

 At the same time, one cannot be too comfortable in the thought that one is the market leader because there are other mediums to even up matters. That's what makes today's media environment both challenging and dangerous.

 This is not to say people in the media should not go into business. Although that would be the ideal, it is no longer a practical idea. Media and business can mix.

 The important thing is transparency. As the slogan goes, be honest – even if others are not.  

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