Friday, March 23, 2007

How do candidates plan to solve the journalist killings and other press attacks?

I was just checking the people who found and visited my blog after searching items in search engines like Google. One came to my blog after typing the keyword items "Philippines the most dangerous place for journalists next to Iraq." Press attacks in the country that once boasted as having the freest media in Asia continue -- and seem to worsen -- this year, when we are holding national elections. I think the press covering this year's elections should also ask the candidates questions like: Who should be held responsible for the unabated extrajudicial killings and media attacks? How do you plan to solve the killings and other press freedom violations?

For more news about journalist killings and other attacks against and threats to press freedom in the Philippines, check out Freedom Watch, the institutional blog of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). Soon, CMFR will put all its reports on these threats and attacks under one "Alerts" section in the CMFR website.

Among the recent posts in Freedom Watch

Solon prevented from speaking to the media

Members of the press were prevented from interviewing detained Bayan Muna (Nation First) Representative Satur Ocampo by his police custodians, who claimed that media interviews would be risky for Ocampo, reported on 21 March 2007. Ocampo and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have protested the ban.

The 67-year old solon was arrested on 16 March 2007 and is presently detained at the Manila Police District (MPD) Headquarters. Ocampo, who was a business reporter for seven years in the 1960s for a national daily, was ordered arrested by a court in Hilongos, Leyte for his alleged involvement in the purge of communist rebels in 1984-85 in that province. Leyte is in the Eastern Visayas group of islands south of Manila.

Ocampo has steadfastly declared his innocence and accused the Arroyo government of concocting the charges to prevent him from campaigning for the May 10 mid-term elections.

“I am protesting this ban by my custodians against media interviews. I should not be prevented from speaking,” Ocampo was quoted in the Inquirer report.

The NUJP described the ban as “high-handed and arbitrary.”

NUJP said “reporters do not pose any security threat for Ocampo and there is no link between the lawmaker's exercise to free speech with dangers to his person.”

Read here for more.

Newspaper editors and publisher post bail for libel

The publisher, along with seven editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of the Philippines’ major dailies, was detained for an hour at a Manila Police Station on 20 March 2007 after posting a libel bond of P50,000 (approx. $1,000). A Manila court issued had issued warrants for their arrest over a P22 million ($440,000) libel charge by Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, husband of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Libel is a criminal offense in the Philippines.

Publisher Isagani Yambot, editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, managing editor Jose Ma. Nolasco, associate editor Abelardo Ulanday, associate editor for readership Rosario Garcellano, news editor Artemio Engracia Jr., opinion editor Jorge Aruta, national editor Pergentino Bandayrel Jr., senior desk editor Juan Sarmiento Jr., and columnist Ramon Tulfo were ordered arrested by Judge Virgilio Alameda of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 after he found “probable cause” in the libel complaint of Arroyo.

The Inquirer reported that Magsanoc was not able to post bail because she was sick. Tulfo, meanwhile told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that he will post bail for the Inquirer case along with the staff of Bandera, a tabloid in Filipino where Tulfo’s column appears in translation. Arroyo has also sued the publisher, editor-in-chief, associate editor, and circulation manager of Bandera along with Tulfo.

Read here for more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

UP CMC Professors Condemn Violation of Rep. Satur Ocampo’s Rights

From Prof. Danilo Arao of the UP College of Mass Communication:

This press statement released on March 20 (Tuesday) was signed by 18 faculty members of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) led by Dean
Elena Pernia. For verification, please call the UP CMC Department of Journalism at 920-6852.

The undersigned faculty members of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) condemn in the strongest possible terms the filing of multiple murder charges against Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo which resulted in his arrest and detention last March 16.

That the charges were filed during the election season is already questionable, especially since
Ocampo’s Bayan Muna Partylist group is running for representation in the House of Representatives and has been repeatedly accused by the powers-that- be as a communist front. The situation is preposterous as the crimes he allegedly committed happened more than
two decades ago while he was in detention.

The authorities even had the audacity to push for his transfer to Hilongos, Leyte – where the case against him was filed – despite the scheduled oral arguments before the Supreme Court on
March 23. If Rep. Ocampo can be denied due process, what kind of treatment can others similarly accused expect from this government?

Rep. Ocampo’s wife, Prof. Carolina Malay, was a faculty member of the UP CMC Department of Journalism from 1992 to 2000, during the last five years of which she was department chair. We
admired Prof. Malay then for her dedication to the teaching and journalism profession, and we commend her at this point for her strength and unwavering resolve to fight for truth
and justice. We join her in her struggle to uphold and protect our basic freedom.

We call on the authorities to stop harassing Ocampo and his co-accused and to respect their basic rights. An administration that claims to be both legitimate and serving the interest of
the people is expected to do no less.

Dr. Elena E. Pernia, dean
Dr. Lourdes Portus, college secretary
Dr. Arminda Santiago, chair, graduate studies
Prof. Fernando Austria, chair, broadcast communication department
Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, professor, Film Institute
Dr. Georgina R. Encanto, professor, journalism department
Prof. Luis V. Teodoro, professor, journalism department
Dr. Jose R. Lacson, professor, communication research department
Dr. Roland Tolentino, professor, Film Institute
Dr. Perlita Manalili, associate professor, broadcast communication department
Prof. Danilo A. Arao, assistant professor, journalism department
Prof. Marichu C. Lambino, assistant professor, journalism department
Prof. Yvonne T. Chua, assistant professor, journalism department
Prof. Ma. Cristina I. Rara, assistant professor, journalism department
Prof. Violeda A. Umali, assistant professor, communication research department
Prof. Jane Vinculado, assistant professor, broadcast communication department
Prof. Shirley P. Evidente, assistant professor, broadcast communication department
Prof. Andres Sevilla, lecturer, communication research department

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Anticipating the second report

Add the prominent Halalan 2007 blog to my list of journalists, media organizations, and bloggers that posted about our project (posts here and here). The second period (which covers March 3 to 16) is going to be available sometime next week in the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility site.

Meanwhile, in the US: Economic challenges usher in era of the niche for mainstream media

I don't think this trend is going to happen anytime here soon, but the possibility is there nevertheless.

From Tom Rosenstiel of Project for Excellence in Journalism:

State of the American News Media, 2007:
Economic Challenges Usher In Era of the Niche For Mainstream Media, Says Fourth Annual PEJ Report

Every Component of TV News Is Losing Audience

Washington, D.C. – "For the first time in years, every sector of television news lost audience in 2006. And newspapers, despite garnering a larger audience than ever for their content via online platforms, faced more downbeat financial assessments. The shifting economic fundamentals are spurring mainstream news organizations to try to build audience around 'franchise' areas of coverage, specialties and even crusades, according to a new report on the state of journalism in America by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan, non-political research group.

"The new phenomenon is exemplified by cable news, which had been growing for a decade, but is now suffering audience declines. Cable’s “Argument Culture” is giving way to something new: the Answer Culture, a growing pattern that has news outlets, programs and journalists offering up solutions, certainty and the impression of putting all the blur of information in clear order for people.

'These are some of the conclusions from The State of the American News Media, 2007, a 700-page comprehensive look at the state of U.S. journalism by PEJ, a project of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. This is the fourth annual report.

"'Trends that we have been tracking now for four years are reaching a pivot point,” PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said. 'Only one media sector, the ethnic press, is still growing, and every measurement for audience—even page views and visitors—is now being questioned. Things are now moving faster than companies can even recognize. Mainstream news media are adapting, in part, by focusing on specialties. In a sense, every outlet is becoming more of a niche player with reduced ambitions.'

"That does not mean that journalism is dying. There is even more reason than a few years ago to believe, the report concludes, that the old newsrooms of America are most likely to be the successful newsrooms of the future.

"But the report also cautions that the consequences of the overall trend toward franchise branding remain unclear. 'Hyper localism,' a favorite term on Wall Street, can be market speak for simple cost-cutting. Branding can be a mask for bias. Pursued mindlessly, the franchise approach could also spell the death of a big city metro paper. The character of the next era, far from inevitable, will likely depend heavily on the quality of leadership in the newsroom and boardroom, the report concludes.

"The 2007 report includes a special content analysis of digital journalism, which systematically examines the nature and character of more than three dozen websites offering news and information in a variety of styles. Among other findings, the online analysis concludes that while journalists are becoming more serious about the Web, no clear models of how to do journalism online exist yet, and some qualities are still only marginally explored. Features such as immediacy and customizability, for instance, have been developed much more than others, such as depth or the use of multimedia."

The study, which contains detailed charts, graphs and citations, can be accessed online at Photos in this post from the site.

And the press says: "What party-list elections are you talking about?"

Thanks to GMANews.TV (for this and this), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism's Avigail Olarte (for this) and Lala Ordenes-Cascolan (here), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) consultant and Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists coordinator Ma'am Rachel Khan (here), and The Philippine Star's Marichu Villanueva (sorry, I couldn't find any online version of her recent column). I hope more journalists and media organizations write about the latest CMFR project, "Monitoring the news media coverage of the 2007 national elections."

The latest CMFR study showed that the media coverage of the first three weeks of the national campaign barely reported on and discussed the party-list elections, despite these elections' being national in scope. Like in 2004 when CMFR did its a citizens’ monitor of the national elections -- a first in Philippine electoral experience -- there was the usual emphasis on celebrity and celebrity-related news.

As I have posted earlier, CMFR held a round table discussion last March 5 discussing its 2004 study findings and recommendations before coming out with the first analysis of the coverage of this year's elections.

Click here for a short report about the March 5 event. The discussion that followed afterwards was very interesting, I tell you.

I also posted video clips of the round table discussion in my Youtube account. Sorry if they are quite grainy -- Ate Carol (our office finance manager and overall rah-rah girl), I think we need to buy that new videocam I saw the other day. And Venus, Don, Bimbo, and Junette, I think we need to practice more on how to shoot videos (lol).

Click on the clip and this will lead you to my account, containing the rest of the videos.

Speaking of my dear colleagues, Nathan, dude, I'm sorry If I and Venus did not join the chat session with the staff earlier. Toxic PJR Reports work.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Team Unity takes the initial lead -- in TV news

Sorry if this blog has gotten quite old, as I've been awfully busy these past few days doing PJR Reports and the elections news monitoring project of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility/CMFR (which by the way has a new look, thanks to old pal RV).

CMFR's monitoring project of the news media coverage of the 2007 national elections showed that the leading television news programs and the three largest Manila broadsheets covered the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity (TU) candidates most in the first three weeks of the campaign.

Here's CMFR on the results:


First Report (February 13 - March 2)
TV, broadsheets covered TU most in first three weeks of campaign

The media advocacy group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has found that the six leading television news programs and the three largest Manila broadsheets covered the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity (TU) candidates most in the first three weeks of the campaign. CMFR is monitoring the 2007 elections coverage of selected media organizations.

But CMFR deputy director and University of the Philippines journalism professor Luis V. Teodoro said no bias was evident.

“The TU’s getting more coverage was driven by the conventions of newsworthiness,” Teodoro said. “One indication is that due to his prominence, opposition leader and former President Joseph Estrada was more frequently quoted in the news accounts than administration personalities.”

The CMFR March 12 report also said the Genuine Opposition (GO) was a close second to TU in the coverage by both television and the broadsheets from February 13 to March 2.

The six monitored television news programs’ coverage of the senatorial and party-list elections ranged from 8.74 percent to 41.90 percent of total airtime during the first three weeks of the senatorial campaign, according to CMFR.

There were 158 newspaper reports about the TU candidates, while GO candidates were among the subjects of 128 reports.

But the reports were mostly about the controversies involving candidates in both teams, said CMFR. Among these was the decision by former oppositionists Edgardo Angara, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and Teresa “Tessie” Aquino-Oreta to join TU.

CMFR is monitoring the elections coverage by the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star. The TV news programs CMFR is monitoring are TV Patrol World (ABS-CBN 2), Bandila (ABS-CBN 2), 24 Oras (GMA-7), Saksi (GMA-7), Sentro (ABC-5), and Primetime Teledyaryo (NBN-4). It has trained 30 journalism student-volunteers from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UPCMC) to generate the data.
CMFR said that while coverage of the Senate elections seemed ample, the party-list elections seemed to be getting little attention.

The gay-lesbian group Ang Ladlad was the party-list group most covered by all six TV news programs, with a total airtime of only 4.28 minutes. It was followed by Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, AnakPawis, and Kabataan Party.

Of the twenty senatorial candidates most covered by the TV news programs during the period, 11 were from TU, eight from GO, and one independent.

TU’s Cesar Montano – who replaced Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla in the administration’s senatorial line-up last February 16 – had the most combined airtime coverage by the six television news programs at 79.32 minutes. Ralph Recto (also of TU) was a far second with 58.57 minutes, followed by Alan Peter Cayetano (GO), Francis Pangilinan (Independent) and Prospero Pichay (TU).

The most reported senatorial candidates in the three leading Manila broadsheets were almost exclusively from either the administration or opposition parties. There were only 26 reports on the independent candidates. Most of these focused on the decision by Pangilinan to run as an independent bet despite a previous GO announcement that it was adopting him as a guest candidate.

Much lesser coverage was given candidates of the Marcos-era party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) – with practically all the reports focusing on the party’s controversial candidate, Joselito Pepito Cayetano and his adopting the nickname “Peter”. The campaign jingles of various candidates and the ad spending of various candidates were also noted in the reports, particularly in the Inquirer. The Inquirer covered extensively the marital spat between celebrity couple Kris Aquino and James Yap, and its effect on the senatorial campaign of Ms. Aquino’s brother, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The feud between couple Vilma Santos and Sen. Ralph Recto with the latter’s brother, Batangas Vice-Gov. Ricky Recto, over the gubernatorial contest in Batangas was also consistently covered by the paper.

The Inquirer was the only paper that reported on Ang Kapatiran Party and its candidates, focusing on its advocacy of non-traditional politics. Although the Inquirer gave the party and its candidates much-needed public exposure, the reports did not include the party’s program of action.

Among the senatorial candidates of the administration, the most covered by the broadsheets were Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay (20 reports out of 101), Recto (18), and Cesar Montano (13).

The most covered GO candidates were current Senate President Manuel Villar (20), Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero III (12), and Taguig’s Alan Peter Cayetano (12).

Pichay, Recto, and Villar were cited in a recent study by Nielsen Media Research Philippines (NMRP) as the biggest television advertisement spenders in the first two weeks of the campaign.

Of all the senatorial candidates, according to NMRP, Pichay spent the most, at about P33 million, for TV ad spots in the first two weeks of the campaign, while re-electionist senators Villar and Recto spent P30.29 million and P22.79 million, respectively.

The CMFR monitor will continue until the end of the campaign period in May. It is issuing reports on its findings every two weeks, to culminate in a final report by June. CMFR has been doing elections coverage monitors since its founding in 1989. It did a first ever citizens’ monitor of the national elections in 2004, the findings of which it published that year (Citizens’ Media Monitor: A Report on the Campaign and Elections Coverage in the Philippines, 2004).

Visit the CMFR website for the report and other details.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A man was killed yesterday

Love this quote.

"Anybody can write a five-word intro: 'A man was killed yesterday'. That is not news. It is a vacuum. Filling it with just the right amount of detail is where the skill is needed."

- Harold Evans, British editor, Editing and Design, Book 1: Newsman's English (1972)

Monitoring news media coverage of the elections; and why journalists should blog

What a tiring day. We just held earlier our round table discussion on monitoring the news media coverage of the elections. Will update you on what happened. Right now, I just want to sleep -- except I have to finish something for Mr. Vergel Santos first (about it, won't tell you that yet).

Anyway, here's Tarra Quismundo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer reporting on the forum:

Media watchdog monitoring poll coverage


Underlining the media’s role in helping the electorate vote correctly, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has begun a three-month review of the election reportage of leading media outlets in order to assess their performance in this election.

Despite limited manpower and resources, the CMFR has started monitoring the election coverage of three major dailies and six television news programs, reprising its effort during the 2004 elections.

“It’s important because we want to know how the media are providing the public the information it needs so that it can make informed choices. The usual complaint in the Philippines is that we haven’t been choosing our leaders very well, so one of the ways the media can help in that area is by providing the information that the people need,” CMFR deputy director and journalism professor Luis Teodoro said.

Read more here.

I think BusinessWorld also has a report ("Media challenged to pursue depth in election coverage") on the forum, but I can't access the online version because I am not subscriber of the newspaper's website. Oh well. Will check it later in the office.

For the meantime, while I am so so busy these days, here's a piece on why journalists should blog. Got this item from

Why journalists should blog

Chris Cobbler, publisher of the, says all journalists at newspapers should blog.

Blogging helps you better understand your audience. The hallmark of any blog is the ability for readers to post comments to what you write. By having this regular conversation with readers, you learn what hits and what misses.

Read more here.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

After the Kris Aquino-James Yap issue, can we now talk about media coverage of the elections?

Please do not forget to attend tomorrow's round table discussion on monitoring the news coverage of the elections. Luis Teodoro, deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), will present the findings and recommendations from CMFR's Citizens Media Monitor of the 2004 elections. He will also talk about the ongoing monitoring project of CMFR on this year's senatorial and party-list elections.

In 2004, CMFR -- together with several civil society organizations and academic groups -- monitored the elections coverage of three papers -- the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star, six news programs -- TV Patrol, Insider (ABS-CBN 2), Frontpage/24 Oras, Saksi (GMA-7), News Central (Studio 23), and The World Tonight (ABS-CBN News Channel), and two public affairs programs -- Dong Puno Live and I-Witness. In the 2007 project, CMFR is still monitoring the three papers and six programs (although there were changes in the program selection). The six programs are TV Patrol World, Bandila (ABS-CBN 2), 24 Oras, Saksi (GMA7), Sentro (ABC-5), and Primetime Teledyaryo (NBN-4).

Are we getting relevant information about the senatorial and party-list candidates from the press? Is the press helping us decide who to vote for on May 14? Or are we just getting more confusing and misleading information? If you're concerned about these things, please attend the round table discussion tomorrow.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Looking at the shame and the scandal

It looks like I'm not the only one who's fed up with the whole Kris Aquino-James Yap-Hope affair. Is Philippine Daily Inquirer's Nestor Torre referring to the scandal when he wrote in his recent column that tabloids and TV showbiz-oriented talk shows on TV, "which bank on scandal," focus on "intrigue and gossip to sell copies or jack up ratings"?

"Tabloids and show biz-oriented talk shows should... police their own ranks to curtail the pollution of our communal atmosphere," he wrote in his March 1 "Viewpoint" article Shame and scandal in the show biz family.

Check Torre's article here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kris Aquino-James Yap ad nauseam

I don't know about you guys, but I'm freaking tired of the Kris Aquino-James Yap issue already. I did not even bother watching the local shows over the weekend and yet, all I hear, watch, and read these days are still all about the issue -- enough to learn whatever I missed over the weekend. But when you get to learn details like the sexual position of James Yap and his rumored lover (who also reportedly did a Monica Lewinsky), don't you think there are far bigger issues that we need to be discussing, especially that the elections is just less than three months away?

I bet the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which has been publishing a front-page item on the issue since Sunday, will come out today with another front-page article related to it (Maybe something connected with James Yap's campaign support for Kris's brother, senatorial bet Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, like it did yesterday).

Don't you think we, in the local press, do something like this?

From Paris to the Newsroom: The AP Goes Cold Turkey On Hilton For One Week
Source: The Huffington Post

Is the media trying to stage a celebrity intervention on our behalf?

Judging from recent ratings the public can't seem to get enough of the Anna Nicole/Britney, all round celebrity news coverage (even Oscar numbers were up this year). However, in the last few weeks it's begun to seem that the media powers-that-be may have had their fill.

Early warning signs were apparent a while ago when Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove attempted to ban Paris Hilton from his column. Then, at the height of the Anna Nicole Smith news extravaganza, Lou Dobbs told Wolf Blitzer that there would be no Anna Nicole Smith coverage on his hour at CNN.

This was followed by a warning from Brian Williams that he was also jumping the Anna Nicole/Britney meltdown media ship (at least for the night).

And then the AP announced that "the print team is planning an unconventional experiment: We are NOT going to cover Paris Hilton." (The announcement was actually made on Feb. 13 and was only in effect for a week, so we guess we can't really fault them for this.)

If this trend continues perhaps US Weekly reporters really will find themselves looking for Osama Bin Laden, while the rest of us finally sort out the differences between Sunni and Shiite.

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