Thursday, September 14, 2006

The cheap Philippine press

The Malaysian news agency Bernama reports what has been a long problem of the media community here in the Philippines. In fact, this problem has been featured several times in the Philippine Journalism Review/PJR Reports.

In one issue that tackled the low salaries of journalists in the country, former PJR Reports reporter Roselle B. Miranda noted:

"The low salaries Philippine newspapers pay their employees including their reporters are legendary. Many Philippine journalists have the perennial problem of earning enough money to make ends meet. This often leads them to go into various money-making sidelines to augment their incomes."

For her article in the July-September 2000 issue of the then Philippine Journalism Review "Journalists still believe they're underpaid," Miranda looked at the status of journalists' salary scales in several newspapers. She also interviewed newspaper sources to provide her additional information on journalists' salaries and benefits.

"The situation of journalists as far as wages are concerned has not changed much over the passing of time and the growth of the inflation rate," Miranda wrote. "The salaries and benefits journalists receive today have improved, but journalists still believe that they should receive more for their work."

"As if to corroborate that conviction, corruption -- one alternative for the underpaid -- is rampant in the press and is one of its major problems."

Another pressing problem of media in the country -- the lack of public uproar over the unabated media murders -- can also be linked with the low salaries journalists get as a result of corruption in the corruption. Many practitioners, especially those who are paid very little, see nothing wrong to be on the take or under the payroll of a certain official or businessman. For them, it is just a way of living -- not thinking that this undermines the integrity and credibility of the profession.

As a result, people look down at journalists whom they know or perceive as corrupt. Unfortunately, they begin to regard the whole media community as corrupt or can easily be bought. I think this thinking is partly a reason why there is lack of public uproar over the killings. "He's corrupt anyway," I hear some people (and even some journalists) say when a journalist gets killed, whether in the line of duty or not.

Philippines' Media Workers Moan Low Pay, Poor Working Conditions

Low pay and poor working conditions remain the chronic complaints among media workers in the Philippines.

A report by the country's National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU) (First time I heard this group by the way -- Bryanton Post) said the rising cost of living and lack of basic social welfare had hampered the workers' ability to live a decent life as collective bargaining agreements could barely alleviate their problems.

"The starting salaries of reporters in major newspapers range from 4,500 pesos to 7,000 pesos (RM328 to RM510) a month -- the same as that of drivers employed by middle class families," it added.

(RM1is equivalent to about 13.71 pesos)

The report was presented at the Union Network International's Media, Entertainment and Arts sector (UNI-MEI) Conference of Media and Entertainment Organisations in Asean here.

According to the report, last year the average monthly salary for workers in motion picture, radio and television was at 10,717 pesos (RM780), while news agency workers were the highest paid at the average of 94,458 pesos (RM6,881) per month.

Unlike in other Asian countries where the governments provided social programmes such as educational subsidies, price regulations and labour protection policies, the Philippines had none of such.

"The media industry reflects the liberalised, free-market economic system of the country and inherits the social ills of this system.

"While the Philippines prides in having a broad freedom of the press such as being able to criticise the government, it also ranks high among countries with the most number of journalists killed in the line of duty.

"The Philippines is now categorised as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and media persons to work in, second only to Iraq," the report said.

Since 1986, more than 40 journalists have been killed in the Philippines.


luthien said...

amen amen to that. pinapatay na nga kami, kakarampot pa sweldo. naregular na nga ako pero di ata tumaas sweldo ko *sigh*

sinampahan na nga ng libel yung isang kasama ko recently. kakaawa naman kasi praning sya the whole week. sa liit ng sweldo namin di namin alam kung saan pa kami huhugot ng pambayad ng abagado.

bryant said...

@ luthien

haay. sinabi mo pa. "Pinapatay na nga kami, kakarampot pa sweldo." Tsk. tsk.

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