I was following the news today about the 16th National Press Forum by the Philippine Press Institute at the Trader's Hotel in Pasay City wherein President Noynoy Aquino gave a chiding speech on "Media Accountability and Public Engagement". In the speech, Aquino lambasted how some media outfits erroneously reported about his activities, such as one report which surfaced last March about the president's alleged date with Grace Lee in Greenhills during work hours, as well as the recent visit of the Qatari emir.
As if hit in the head, some journalists were quick to cry foul about the President's statements. One TV5 journalist was quick to question in Twitter why the President pinned the blame on them. This tweet was immediately responded by fellow journalists from the Rappler, GMA 7 and freelance news bloggers, criticizing the President for sounding like his predecessor and for being too onion-skinned.
Which figures, because apparently, the media outfits who responded to the President's statements were the one's who proliferated such reports in the first place. After the forum, TV5 News and Information chief Luchi Cruz-Valdez was quick to defend her company's name by emphasizing how media acted in times of catastrophe when the government did not or fell short. If these media platforms are not guilty of inaccurate reporting, why do they have to feel the need to be on the defensive? I guess it wasn't just the President who is onion-skinned after all.
Media platforms must be forgetting the forum was about media accountability. If I were a journalist in this forum, I would have been more eager to learn on how to improve my accountability and integrity as a journalist then haughtily defending my misgivings. The President wouldn't be making such statements on media credibility if there wasn't anything amiss. Besides, noting once more the theme of the forum, it would've have been off-topic if the President simply praised the media in the Philippines as outright "fair and balanced", when some players in the industry are not. Journalists should be even thankful that such sentiments were expressed at a media forum on media accountability, unlike other local politicians who expressed similar statements while wielding a gun.
This is a good sign. It just shows how we are still a working democracy, when government officials like the President still exercise some restraint in expressing their displeasure over the media rather than resorting to violence.
Let us not forget that aside from being the medium of information, media is also an industry. And however has access and control over information wields more power, perhaps even greater power than the government. An industry like this is vulnerable to any attempts at stretching, twisting the truth in order to reel in higher ratings, increased viewership and greater profit, especially for an industry newbie.
Let us not also forget that the media is the mirror of the nation, but if such mirror makes us miss the goodness for the ills in this body we call the Philippines, then such mirror is not working for our best interest as a nation. It's not about creating tall stories just to highlight what is good about the government the majority has elected. It's about fairness, showing both sides of the coin, revealing the whole picture. TSS