Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obamamania, Obamanomics

Nov. 5 front pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and The Topeka Capital-Journal courtesy of the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). Front pages of other newspapers here.

Below is the victory speech of President-elect Barack Obama, courtesy of Tonyo Cruz.

Victory speech of President-elect Barack Obama

Source: Tonyo Cruz
Nov. 5, 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of red states and blue states: We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Read here for more.

Here's Sen. John McCain's concession speech, also from Tonyo:

Concession speech of Sen. John McCain, Republican candidate in the 2008 US presidential elections
Source: Tonyo Cruz
Nov. 5, 2008

(Cheers, applause.)

SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, my friends. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening. (Cheers, applause.)

My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama — (boos) — to congratulate him — (boos) — please — to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

Read here for more.

Below is a quick look by CJR at the analyses of several major news organizations on the economic change likely under an Obama administration.

Audit Roundup: Obamanomics
Bloomberg on what’s in store; Challenges galore, says the Times; etc.
By Ryan Chittum
Nov. 5, 2008

Bloomberg, better than the Journal, Times, or Post, looks ahead to the economic change likely under an Obama administration.

The Democratic president-elect has much more on his agenda, amounting to what may be the broadest overhaul of the U.S. economy since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Beyond job creation and big investments in public works, Obama intends to shift the tax burden back toward the wealthy, roll back a quarter-century of deregulation, extend health-care coverage to all Americans and reassess the U.S. government’s pursuit of free- trade deals.

“The changes will be far greater than many expect,” said Andrew Laperriere, managing director at International Strategy & Investment Group, a money management and research firm in Washington. “From taxes to energy to health care, it’s a pretty sweeping agenda.”

But the Journal is good in looking at the “cooler climate” Big Business is expecting from Obama.

What appears to worry business interests most is the possibility that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House will shift the balance of power between employers and unions back in favor of unions, after two decades or more in which unions have been in retreat.
Click here for the the full post. Hat tip to Media Channel for flagging this post. Media Channel also points readers to this insightful piece by David Hincley of the Daily News of New York City on the U.S. television coverage of the 2008 presidential elections.

Election night reveals a whole new reality in network TV coverage
By Daily News

After 18 months of unrestricted projection, speculation and analysis about how America would vote in the 2008 presidential election, TV was stuck last night with the actual information.

It did the best it could.

Read here for more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Busy busy busy, but Frank Sinatra has a cold

What I mean is I'm so busy these days, but can't help reading--and admiring--Gay Talese's brilliant piece about the life and work of legendary American singer and actor Frank Sinatra. In less than 15,000 words and published in 1966, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" is considered the best profile ever written of Sinatra and one of the greatest celebrity profiles ever.

Probably the most famous magazine profile ever written (according to The New York Times) and the best story Esquire has ever published (according to this extensive Wikipedia entry on the story), any journalist or writer serious about his/her craft should not miss reading this one.

This piece made me remember that I still have to read Talese's 1969 book The Kingdom and the Power, considered as his first bestseller. Too bad that despite having two copies of the book (an old one from my boss Melinda Quintos de Jesus, and a new one I bought two months ago from Powerbooks--completely forgetting that I have an old copy), I haven't gone beyond the first chapter. If only I could ask for a month-long leave to read all the unopened books I have in my dusty cabinet. (Still, I prefer having books this Christmas. You guys know who you are. Haha.)

Frank Sinatra Has a Cold
Source: Esquire
By Gay Talese
Oct. 8, 2007

"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism -- a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction.


In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra -- his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on -- and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism -- a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era's most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself.


FRANK SINATRA, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing; he had been silent during much of the evening, except now in this private club in Beverly Hills he seemed even more distant, staring out through the smoke and semidarkness into a large room beyond the bar where dozens of young couples sat huddled around small tables or twisted in the center of the floor to the clamorous clang of folk-rock music blaring from the stereo. The two blondes knew, as did Sinatra's four male friends who stood nearby, that it was a bad idea to force conversation upon him when he was in this mood of sullen silence, a mood that had hardly been uncommon during this first week of November, a month before his fiftieth birthday.

Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra -- A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.

Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel -- only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.

Read more here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick quick post

News, indeed, never sleeps.

Just a few minutes ago, the U.S. House of Representatives, voting 228-205, rejects the $700-billion Wall Street bailout bill (Twitted this too). U.S. stocks down as bailout plan fails in the House.

Analysts also said that Barack Obama scored some victory points in the recent U.S. Presidential debate. With a few days left before the upcoming vice-presidential elections, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria writes: Palin Is Ready? Please.

In local news, journalists who sued presidential spouse Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo for his mass filing of libel suits want him to testify. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility is a signatory to the complaint.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama and McCain's 1st Presidential Debate

Here is the first 2008 U.S. presidential debate between Republican nominee Sen. John McCain and Democrat nominee Sen. Barack Obama. The debate focused on issues related to foreign policy and national security, including the global financial crisis. It is more than one hour and 30 minutes, so make sure you have the time and good Internet connection to watch it.

PinoyPress also reports the two candidates' views on political, economic, and social issues between U.S. and Asia.

Speaking of the financial crisis, Jon Friedman of MarketWatch criticizes the press for its "wimpy" coverage of the economic meltdown.

Media shouldn't shy away from explosive language
Commentary: Mealy-mouthed financial reporters should tell it like it is
By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch
Sept. 26, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Over the past few, stunning weeks, the reporters covering the apparent collapse of capitalism have tried mightily to be prudent and proper. In this extraordinary period, however, I'd prefer bluntness and brutal truth.

This is no time for journalists to be hedging their bets and falling back on imprecise, sugar-coated language.

The Wall Street media may want to dispel notions that they're merely trying to capitalize on a scary time and sell newspapers, increase their Web clicks and raise television ratings. Remember, journalists were skewered after the tech bubble burst in 2000. The public blamed the media for acting as cheerleaders for the fragile Internet stocks.

But these days, the media are taking their good intentions too far. They're failing to describe accurately the bloodbath (and, you bet, "bloodbath" is an acceptable word, too).

Read more here.

Journalism's raison d’être in society

Technology has allowed the rise of blogging and citizen journalism, and at the same time, helped produce the current 24/7 news cycle and multimedia journalism practice among media organizations. News gathering has become increasingly complex as well, offering challenges to journalists in covering events and issues. As citizens shift to the online medium both to consume and produce information, decreasing circulation figures and ratings have sparked fears of the demise of the media as we know it.

In these interesting times, journalists should review the values of the profession--why we are here in the first place. What is journalism's function and purpose in society? What are the obligations and responsibilities of journalists?

Citizens too have rights and responsibilities when it comes to news; rights and responsibilities which have become specially pronounced since the advent of blogging and citizen journalism.

Written by respected American journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, comprehensively discusses the essential elements that define journalism and the role of press in society. It also discusses the role of citizens in newsmaking in the Internet age.

"The Elements of Journalism delineates the core principles shared by journalists across media, even across cultures. These principles flow from the essential function news plays in people's lives," the Committee of Concerned Journalists said. A new edition, published April 2007, includes a 10th principle: the rights and responsibilities of citizens. This 10 principles flows from the "new power conveyed by technology to the citizen as a consumer and editor of their own news and information."

What are the Elements of Journalism?
From The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect
Source: Committee of Concerned Journalists

1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.

2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.

3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.

4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.

5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.

6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.

7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.

8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.

9. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.

10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.

The book's introduction, which explains how the book got started, can be read here.

Debbie Uy, a colleague and MA classmate who currently serves as readers' advocate of the Davao-based Mindanao Insider, discussed these elements in two successive column pieces. (First part here, second here).

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), also discussed the values Kovach and Rosenstiel discussed in the book for the April 2008 issue of the PJR Reports (which I wrote about earlier). In covering the current political crisis in the Philippines, she wrote, a review of basic principles may help clarify the role of the press. Since the CMFR site is currently undergoing some platform and design changes, I suggest you read Ma'am Melinda's piece in this cached page here.

I am also planning to write more about the elements of journalism in future posts. For now, let me just agree with Roy Peter Clark of The Poynter Institute when he said this about Kovach and Rosenstiel's book: "The most important book on the relationship of journalism and democracy published in the last fifty years."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on the Rolando Ureta case; Burmese junta frees U Win Tin

Freedom Watch, the institutional blog of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), has a multimedia report updating the public with the Sept. 6, 2008 hearing of the murder case against the alleged killers of broadcaster Rolando Ureta. The multimedia report is the first one CMFR made in its newly-created Youtube account.

Update on the Rolando Ureta case hearing
Source: Freedom Watch

Freedom Watch has also made a quick post on the much-awaited release of Burmese journalist U Win Tin from jail.

On the current economic crisis

The Wall Street financial crisis continues to hog headlines and airtime (good reads here and here). Even some local major news organizations have appropriately made several banner and front-page reports on the issue.

For those living under a rock in the past weeks or grappling with all those big-sounding business and financial terms related to the crisis, you might want to visit Carlos Conde's PinoyPress helpful post. You might want to read some of the links there for a quick understanding of the issue, but I recommend reading all the links he posted--just make sure you have enough time to do so. (Heck, I'm not even halfway finished in reading all the links Sir Caloy posted.)

The Attack of the Jargonites
September 19, 2008
By Carlos H. Conde

As with many business or financial story, the meltdown that just happened on Wall Street is often difficult to digest, what with all the jargon and the complex methodologies used by investment and insurance companies to get to where they are now. Does anyone really know what a “derivative” is or what a “credit default swap” really means? And who the hell are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Reading the papers and watching the news reports about the Crash of 2008 can often feel like they were written and produced by journalists who exist in a parallel world, a surreal, separate universe populated by Jargonites.

Read more here.

Hat tip to journalist Tonyo Cruz (who is this year's Best News and Media Blog in Philippine Blog Awards 2008) for linking readers to this commentary from Ian Bell of London-based The Herald: Capitalism has proven Karl Marx right again, Bell writes. In his post, Tonyo discussed the progressive, anti-imperialist view of the U.S. economic meltdown which effects reverberate throughout the rest of the world. He also linked related readings and news in other posts (here and here)

For more information about the effects of the U.S. crisis especially in the Philippines, do visit Money Smarts, the blog of business editor Salve Duplito. She has blogged the issue several times (including this and this). Duplito's blog has been a very helpful information resource for Filipinos, especially the ones who are jittery--and quite understandably--on what the repercussions of the crisis.

It seems that financial and economic woes will continue to dominate media space and airtime in the next few days. But for how long? According to the U.S. based Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research organization that monitors U.S. media's coverage of issues, a month before the meltdown started, the economy was not a major news agenda.

The Lull before the Storm
Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism
Sept. 18, 2008

"The credit crisis hit Wall Street hard the week of September 15. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch was bought out Bank of America, and insurance giant AIG was rescued with an $85 billion bailout by the Federal Reserve. On Sept. 15, the Dow fell 504 points, the worst one-day drop since 9/11. Two days later, the market plunged another 450 points.

"While this recent financial turmoil has dominated headlines and become the focus of the presidential race, PEJ’s News Coverage Index reveals that in the month preceding these events, press attention to the U.S. economy was at a low point for the year."

Read more here. Infographic above from the same article.

I know local research think thank IBON Foundation is having a forum today on the US economic meltdown. "The global crisis will further worsen the Philippines’ own economic crisis as neoliberal reforms have further deepened its links to the US and the global economy," IBON said in a statement inviting people to attend today's forum. "However, the economy would have been less vulnerable if the domestic economy were not overly dependent on trade, foreign loans and capital, and if nationalist economic policies were in place." I was supposed to attend the event, but decided to ask another colleague instead. I hope IBON would post the proceedings online.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No to Arroyo's term extension--FSGO

A group of former senior government officials has launched an online petition calling for immediate resumption of peace talks on Mindanao, and against any possible term extension for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


For the on-line signing of this petition, please visit:

Your contact details (except the city or province you are in) and your email address will not be posted and will be kept as a confidential information by the FSGO Secretariat.
Please note that organizational signatories are also being solicited. For this, please contact me directly or send email to the FSGO secretariat at or


Moves For Term Extension Will Not Die:
Filipino Citizens Should Prepare For Action

We, the organizations and individuals who have signed this statement, are citizens of this Republic alarmed by current political developments. We note that in spite of various protestations by political leaders from the administration and the opposition, the talk of a brazen attempt to extend the term of Mrs. Arroyo simply will not die.

Charter change to be initiated in Congress through a constituent assembly has seemingly been stopped in its tracks by the vocal opposition of many members of the Senate, whose two-thirds approval would logically seem necessary to convene a constituent assembly. Yet the House of Representatives, through the Speaker, and the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, has announced that it will be holding “public consultations” to elicit public opinion on charter change, whether for federalism, shift to a parliamentary system or such other excuse/justification as may later dawn on the proponents. Some legislators have been vocal in pushing their interpretation that “the Constitution requires only a two thirds vote of its members to propose amendments to the Constitution,” an interpretation that would make the Senators’ votes almost irrelevant in the process.

The current administration has swung violently on the matter of the conflict in Mindanao from rushing to sign the MOA on Ancestral Domain with the MILF to the abrupt cancellation of the peace talks, the dissolution of the peace panel and the attempt of Mrs. Arroyo to disown knowledge of the agreement; and now a relentless armed confrontation that is seemingly designed to goad the MILF and other groups into a combative reaction or a series of violent actions. The inevitable armed confrontations and deaths that will follow could be a ready-made platform to suspend the writ of habeas corpus or, heaven forbid, even the declaration of Martial Law. The Constitution requires only a vote of a majority of the members of Congress, voting jointly, to approve and extend Martial Law.

We declare our commitment to a just and sustainable peace in Mindanao . We will initiate and support all possible actions that will bring about an inclusive process to begin with ceasefire and return to the peace table.

We declare our united opposition (1) to any moves that exploit the Mindanao situation to extend Mrs. Arroyo’s stay in power, (2) to any attempt to amend the Constitution before 2010, (3) to any attempt to change the Constitution through a Constituent Assembly, and (4) to any step towards declaring Martial Law.

We call on all Filipinos to be vigilant, to inform themselves, to organize with like-minded fellow citizens, and to prepare to show our leaders and officials the true power of our democracy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Charice Pempengco on Oprah Winfrey show

I know there are so many issues right now, but I hope you would forgive me for posting clips of Filipina singer Charice's recent guesting (actually, her second) on the Oprah Winfrey show. It's Saturday anyway. Besides, it's not everytime we see a Filipina singer on American television.

From Youtube user lifefullofjourney:

Welcome to the Pig Pen

I agree with the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) when it blamed the media for overblowing the "Lipstick on a Pig" controversy. The quality of how we conduct elections and choose our leaders , whether in the US or in our sorry country of ours, depends on the discourse of campaign and political issues.

Notes From The Pig Sty
In which we all get dirty
By Megan Garber
Sept. 10, 2008

What (audiences) recognize, rather, is the press’s framing of those accusations, the media’s treatment of the controversies. And the fact that LipstickOnAPigGate is a controversy—indeed, the fact that it’s a narrative in the first place—is the fault of the media.... The media, in allowing themselves to be so easily hijacked by campaign spin...are not only implying their own irrelevance in this whole campaign. They’re fostering it.

Read more here.

Another useful post here. Additional readings from Slate on the US election campaign: an unsolicited advice for Democrat vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden to beat Sarah Barracuda; how umbrage has become the most widely-used tactic in the campaign; and the hottest rhetorical device of the 2008 campaign--the antimetabole.

Undermining the right to know and the country's democracy

Here's a statement of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) on the Supreme Court affirmation of its March 25 decision favoring executive privilege. The ruling, CMFR said in the statement, does not only affect the public's right to know and the role of press in society but also the vitality and future of democracy in the Philippines.

Statement of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Assault on the Public's Right to Know

Source: Freedom Watch
Sept. 11, 2008

The Supreme Court’s affirmation of its March 25 decision in favor of executive privilege undermines the public interest function of the press to provide information to a citizenry that has a right to it on matters of public concern. Even more dangerously it also erodes the democratic imperative of transparency in governance.

By expanding the coverage of executive privilege to include communications authored or solicited and received by a presidential advisor, in this case then National Economic and Development Authority Director General Romulo Neri, the Court has legitimized government secrecy to an extent yet to be established by practice.

Read more here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jon Stewart disses Sarah Palin's media defenders

Can't get enough of this. The clip below shows Jon Stewart pwning media commentators who support Republican vice-presidential bet Sarah Palin. Definitely a must-see video, especially if you are closely following the upcoming U.S. elections.

Did I hear somebody shout "hypocrisy"?

Hat tip to colleague JB who earlier posted this. Youtube video courtesy of user 1stAmendmentVoter.

Lots of comments on the clip here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lots of things to do

I'm not really complaining though. Why, with all these goodies to read I bought just a few days ago from Fully Booked in Serendra and National Bookstore.

My main problem is that I still haven't read all the books I previously bought and got from friends and colleagues. Now, if only I could read three books a week, just like one veteran writer I know. Sigh.

I probably should take a break before reading all these books--something which I should have done earlier, such as watching the Eraserheads reunion gig (Sigh again). Should I watch Paul Potts's concert in Manila on Oct. 8? Or should I relive good ol' memories of Pulpcommunity and watch the "Oldies Night: The Reunion" next week?

Oldies Night: The Reunion
presented by Unifying Force Productions


Whorelocke, Powertools,Pentavia, Orgasm Addicts, Diwa, Akaw First Project, Malik Mata, Vie, Descant Gott and After Math

Sept.14 Sunday @ 9Mile Bar, Kalayaan Ave, QC. 9pm onwards.
Damage:100bucks Event Shirts will be sold @ the gate for 200php

2nd Philippine Journalism Review out--and living in the Philippine age of apathy

In case you do not know, the second issue of the Philippine Journalism Review (PJR) is already available. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), publisher of the PJR, is in the process of renovating its site (paging Ederic haha). Thus, the announcement below is still not posted on the CMFR site.

Second issue of only refereed journal on journalism released
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

THE second issue of the Philippine Journalism Review (PJR), the only refereed journal in Asia devoted to journalism concerns and issues, is now available, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has announced.

Now an annual, the Philippine Journalism Review, or PJR, used to be a press monitoring publication in magazine format. That function has been taken over by the monthly PJR Reports, which CMFR also publishes. The first issue of the reformatted PJR appeared in 2007 and was launched during the awarding ceremonies of the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism that year.

The 2008 issue of PJR has a paper by St. Scholastica's College journalism professor Ma. Aurora Lolita L. Lomibao on the beat system ("Revisiting the Beat System"), Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter DJ Yap's "Literary Journalism in the Philippines from the 1950s to the 1980s," and Philippine Social Science Council Technical Services and Information head Joanne B. Agbisit's "Media-Policy Interaction in the Passage of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995."

GMA 7 researcher Ederic Eder also reviewed an online publication ("Global Voices Online"), while University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo A. Arao interviewed "barefoot journalism" advocate Ben Domingo ("Understanding Barefoot Journalism). A commentary by Johanna Camille Sisante on the Philippine Daily Inquirer's error-correction box ("The Inquirer Box of Errors") completes the 2008 issue contents.

University of the Philippines journalism professor and CMFR Deputy Director Luis V. Teodoro edits PJR, assisted by Prof. Danilo A. Arao, who is its managing editor. The PJR Board of Advisers is composed of academics from the Ateneo de Manila, the University of Santo Tomas, the University of the Philippines, St. Scholastica's College, the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

PJR copies may be ordered from the CMFR (840-0889; 894-1314, 894-1326) and the Office of Research and Publication of the UP College of Mass Communication (981-8500 local 2668).


By the way, speaking of Dean Teodoro, please read his latest BusinessWorld column titled "Heroes". Outstanding analysis of our national heroes and today's Philippine society. Sadly, we are currently living, in his words, in the Philippine age of apathy.

Luis Teodoro
Aug. 29, 2008

Revolutions are after all waged by the millions — and heroes made by vast constituencies: by the nameless men and women who, confronting police batons, tear gas, water cannon, and even guns, create and imbue leaders with the courage, the sense of community and the single-minded purpose that enable them to be the faces and voices of protest and change. To our sorrow ours does not seem to be a heroic age; and we do not have — we have actually lost — the constituencies that once made heroes of ordinary and flawed mortals.

Read more here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Helpful online materials for journalists

In journalism, it's not enough--and worse, a disservice to the public--to just get the names, places, and events right. "Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts put in a meaningful context," said the U.S.-based Committee of Concerned Journalists, explaining that journalism's first obligation is to the truth. "Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built--context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate. " If we journalists barely know the background or context of what we are reporting, then how would we be able to present these issues clearly to the public?

Raging issues at present are the current peace situation in Mindanao and rising oil costs. Below are online articles and materials that could help journalists covering these issues gain better perspective and context to what they are reporting. Of course, non-journalists would also find the materials very useful.

Filipina journalist Raissa Robles of The South China Morning Post writes a comprehensive story on the current Mindanao issue, providing background on and context to the issue.

Gathering storm
Manila's botched attempt at creating a southern Muslim homeland has inflamed religious tensions and raised the spectre of civil war
Raissa Robles
The South China Morning Post
Aug 26, 2008

A serious government miscalculation not only led to the eruption of violence in the southern Philippines, but it might also have raised the long-dormant spectre of civil war with religious overtones.

"I fear a civil war ... I'm scared," said prominent socialite-activist Precy Lopez-Psinakis this weekend.

In Cotabato City, after Friday prayers at the mosque, Nash Pangadapun expressed concern over text messages circulating in this Muslim heartland which revealed that some Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf) commanders intended to attack Christian communities before September 1 - the onset of Ramadan, the Muslim period or fasting - should the military continue to shell their camps.

"It that happens, this could be a precursor to a civil war", Mr Pangadapun, secretary general of the Muslim civil society group Maradeka, told The South China Morning Post.

Last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's top aide, executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, voiced concern over the rise of armed Christian vigilante groups. "At first glance, you might think we could allow them to fight the Milf. But what if civil war breaks out?" the former general said.

Read more here.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Central Committee, held a press conference last Aug. 23 with other MILF officials. The group's views and claims were presented during the event. “As far as we are concerned, the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA – AD) is a final document, a done deal,” the MILF said.
The group said it "cannot allow renegotiation on the MOA–AD, which took both the MILF–GRP Peace Negotiating Panels four years and eight months to discuss and initialed through the superb facilitation of the Malaysian government. "

For details of the conference, please click here. Hat tip to Tita Ellen.

Some local reports on the oil problem have not provided the larger picture, how the current oil problem in the country are intricately connected with issues and problems in the international community.

Journalists and ordinary citizens closely following the oil issue may want to check out a pictorial representation of global consumption of oil using Google Earth. (Oh, while in Google Earth, you may also want to see a worrying animation of the effect of rising sea levels in the planet.)

The prominent education and research think-tank East-West Center has also just released a short analytical piece on several policy options to improve energy security in the Asia-Pacific.

Six steps toward increased energy security in the Asia Pacific region By Kang Wu, Fereidun Fesharaki, Sidney B. Westley and Widhyawan Prawiraatmadja
East-West Center
Aug. 25, 2008

Given the region’s growing populations, expanding transportation needs and rising expectations for a better standard of living, the demand for oil can only go up. The result is a steadily growing dependence on imported oil, largely from the volatile Middle East.

Oil production, consumption, and net surplus or deficit in major regions of the world, 2006 (million barrels per day). Source: BP (2007). Image from: East-West Center

This is no doubt cause for concern, but a number of policy options can help governments improve the security of their oil supplies and, in the long term, bring oil supply and demand into better alignment. The following policy measures could make a significant contribution to energy security in the region:

1. Initiate joint ventures with oil producers.
2. Improve the efficiency of domestic oil markets.
3. Build up strategic oil stocks.
4. Strengthen regional cooperation.
5. Reduce transportation bottlenecks.
6. Establish a regional oil futures market.

For explanation on these measures, as well as more information about the piece and authors, kindly click here.

Proven oil reserves at the end of 2006 (billions of barrels). Source: BP (2007). Note: Measurements of proven reserves are imprecise, because there is no globally accepted system to certify reserves, and reports from individual companies or countries cannot be verified. Image from East-West Center

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Some thoughts about Super Sentai

While reading online resources about the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (the blog entries of Manolo Quezon and peace advocate Fr. Jun Mercado are particularly engaging), I am viewing some Youtube clips of old Bioman episodes.

I just realized that after more than 15 years, I still can't get over with the death of Kc, the original Yellow 4.

From Youtube user bampam69:

It's a good thing that Jun, who became the new Yellow 4, was as skilled as Kc.

Some Youtube commenters say that the new Yellow 4 is even better than the old one, especially when matched against Jun's old rival, Farrahcat. Speaking of Farrahcat, do you know that the actress who played Farrahcat, Yukari Oshima, is Cynthia Luster?

Taken from Youtube user cscentrITV:

The episodes also remind me of the group project we did for visual literacy class under Prof. Isabel Kenny, about the gendered realities of news--how stereotypes of women are portrayed in the news. I still adore Bioman that's for sure. But come to think of it, how come many--if not all--Super Sentai shows have male characters as lead? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall any Super Sentai show with female character as a lead. Is it because men are seen as better leaders than women? And that women are still seen as mere secondary leads, sidekicks, or love interests?

And what about the colors? How come female characters in Super Sentai shows typically have
yellow and pink as uniforms while the male ones usually have red, green, blue, or black uniforms?

(Bioman photo from

Friday, August 08, 2008

Why plagiarism weakens the reason why we still need the press

Whew. I'm back blogging. I just hope I would be able to blog on a more frequent basis this time.

Anyway, ANC's Media in Focus tackled last night the rampant practice of plagiarism in journalism, basing on the story I did for the the May-June 2008 issue of the PJR Reports. I was invited to be a guest for the episode, but because I had a class on visual literacy under Prof. Isabel Kenny that time (more on my MA Journalism classes at the Ateneo de Manila University in future posts), I declined and referred other people as guests instead.

In case you have not read this, here's my story on plagiarism.

The Vampire Chroniclers
by Hector Bryant L. Macale
May-June 2008
PJR Reports

In the age of Web 2.0, when computers and the Internet have become necessary research and writing tools for reporters, any one can plagiarize by using online search and copy-and-paste technology. But this convenience is a double edged sword: the same tools can also be used to detect plagiarism.

Investigative journalist Alecks Pabico found that out one Sunday. Since he had been writing about the generics drug law for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Pabico kept himself updated on the issue through Google Alerts. A useful tool that journalists can use to monitor issues, Google Alerts can send anyone information on whatever topic s/he wants through e-mail.

Click here for more. Or better yet, read the same article posted on the Eye on Ethics blog. The blog carries the two sidebars of the article, unlike the PJR Reports site which only carried the sidebar on tips regarding plagiarism.

Not only does the Eye on Ethics blog carry the two sidebars (one on the tips and the other views by journalists and media educators on the articles in question). More importantly, it carries the links of the articles so you can compare the articles for yourself and decide whether they were actually plagiarized.

Here's how Eye on Ethics continued my two paragraphs above:

"One item from Google Alerts caught Pabico’s attention: a special report on the issue from The Manila Times posted online that same day, Feb. 3. He was surprised that the Times report contained sentences and quotes that were eerily familiar. Pabico found that the Times report as well as an accompanying story had lifted several portions of a story he did on the generics law almost two years ago. The stories contained several paragraphs nearly identical with portions of Pabico’s September 2006 report. Even several of the quotes in his story two years ago were in the Times stories."

One colleague told me that the article has provoked some discussions in the press community regarding plagiarism. Some mass communication students were also asking my views regarding the subject. I think the article just shows that, despite the existence of rules against plagiarism in the Journalist's Code of Ethics and newsroom ethics manuals, there is not enough discussion within the press on what constitutes plagiarism and how news organizations sanction journalists guilty of plagiarizing.

In this age of Web 2.0, when tons of information are available online and copy-and-paste technology is a common practice not just by journalists but other people as well, the issue of plagiarism in journalism needs to be revisited, Philippine Daily Inquirer lifestyle sub-editor Lito Zulueta tells me in an interview while doing the story. The newsroom guidelines regarding plagiarism were created before the advent of Internet, Zulueta says.

Some comments on the plagiarism story posted on Eye on Ethics are very interesting. "Beautiful article," writes Eliza, a journalism graduate who dabbles in fiction writing. "This article shows that apparently there is no such thing as a 'one-time plagiarist'. Investigations into cases like these should be done as thoroughly as possible."

Another reader, Frank, asks: "It’s been consciously taught in the classrooms that plagiarism is and will not be tolerated. How about in the newsrooms, when everyday, editors and reporters alike are faced with deadlines? Do newrooms teach this?" PJR Reports editor Luis Teodoro replies: "They used to. But I seriously doubt if it happens on a regular basis nowadays, among other reasons because the new technologies have reduced opportunities for personal interaction–i.e., reporters send in their stories via fax or e-mail and in many cases don’t have the opportunity to interact with editors."

UP journalism professor and Philippine Journalism Review managing editor Danilo Arao and Asahi Shimbun reporter Anthony Ian "Tonyo" Cruz, whom I interviewed for the story, also posted the story on their blogs (Prof. Arao's entry here, Tonyo's here). When the Media in Focus's guest coordinator asked for my help on who to guest for the episode last night, I recommended Sir Luis, Prof. Arao, and Tonyo. Thank God they all decided to appear on the "Word Theft" episode.

The hour-long episode was very engaging not only because I wrote the story. More importantly, plagiarism is an issue that strikes at the heart of the ethical values we hold dear in journalism: truth-telling. If we journalists cannot uphold the value of truth-telling when we report, how can we claim credibility and integrity? How can we gain the trust and loyalty of the citizens? How can we claim that we are doing a great service to the public, whom we are supposed to serve? Doesn't journalism exist, as Kovach and Rosenstiel clearly elucidated in their definitive book Elements of Journalism, to provide the public accurate, honest, and comprehensive information on issues they need to know in order to effectively self-govern?

Plagiarism, of course, is not a problem endemic only to journalism. How many times have we heard from the academe horror stories of students, from high school to postgraduate levels, submitting papers and projects plagiarized, some even completely sourced from--gasp!--Wikipedia?

Anyway, I feel that the hour-long Media in Focus episode was still not enough to comprehensively discuss various issues related to plagiarism--although Sir Luis, Prof. Arao, and Tonyo adequately explained some of the core issues, including the element of deception when someone copies a quote, sentence, or paragraph without proper attribution. The Media in Focus episode also happened when there were questions of alleged plagiarism over a piece written by a local lifestyle columnist (more on this case a bit later).

At a time when the role of traditional journalism in today's world is being questioned--some even predicting the eventual demise of mainstream media--journalists should prove why society still needs them. "I know full well how hard it is to defend traditional journalism today. The right and the left join in a critique that says there is no such thing as an unbiased, nonpartisan journalist and that only the despicable MSM, mainstream media, refuse to admit it. The failures of established news organizations justifiably lead to public skepticism," writes American journalist and educator Samuel Freedman (the link of which I got from my media ethics class under Prof. Chay Hofileña). "When we fall short of our own professional standards, we lend support to the cynical or naïve presumption that journalism is something anybody can do."

(Photo above from

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NUJP celebrates 22nd anniversary; holds a forum on state of RP media

Just a break from my blogging hiatus and to maintain my sanity. Here's an invitation from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines for everyone. I sure want to attend these events, especially the forum on the state of media.

NUJP's 22nd Anniversary and Forum on State of Phil. Media

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is celebrating its 22nd anniversary on July 30 (Wednesday).

We never made much fuss about our anniversary before and were at first thinking of keeping up the tradition this year.

However, we realized it is high time to thank all the people and organizations whose unwavering and generous support have helped the NUJP survive being listed by the military as an "enemy of the state", grow to 55 chapters nationwide, and earn recognition as an organization that genuinely represents the interests of the working press and our aspirations for press freedom.

Since the date of our anniversary falls on the same period as the annual SONA (state of the nation address), we thought it would make our celebration more significant by encouraging critical analyses of the Philippine media's performance through a forum on this subject, a state of the media report of sorts.

Thus, we request the honor of your company at our twin anniversary activities:

1. Pressing Times: A Forum on the State of Philippine Media, 9:30 to 11:30 am, CMC Auditorium, UP Diliman

2. Pasasalamat: 22nd NUJP Anniversary Get-together, 12 nn, Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman

Leaders from the following fields have been invited to speak in the morning forum: community, print, broadcast and online media, and media union organizing.

For inquiries, please call Joe (09209010013) or the NUJP office (09163658510, Karen).

Our warm regards,

Joe Torres Jr.

Rowena Carranza-Paraan

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who's going to win the JVOAEJ this year?

Just before I go to other things, let me point you to RG Cruz and Filipino Voices to update what I last posted. I'll try to find time in the near future to discuss issues related to the abduction. But for now, let me just post here an announcement on the upcoming Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism:

Winners in Ongpin Awards Known By June 26
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

The best investigative and explanatory reports published in 2007 will be named on June 26 from among ten finalists during the 19th Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence on Journalism (JVOAEJ), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) which administers the awards has announced.

This year’s finalists are:

Palace document shows gov’t plan to neutralize Left
Norman Bordadora and Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 16-17, 2007

The road to Italy
Gemma Luz Corotan
September-December 2007

Inside PCGG 21 years later
Fernando del Mundo, Margaux C. Ortiz, Jerry Esplanada and Daxim L. Lucas
with reports from TJ Burgonio and Lawrence de Guzman
Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 22-25, 2007

Environmentalists to govt: Manage garbage, don’t promote landfills, dumps
Nora O. Gamolo
The Manila Times
October 28-29, October 31-November 1, 2007

Trapped in a web of lives
Glenda M. Gloria
December 2007-February 2008

Garci was here
Miriam Grace A. Go
July-September 2007

The battle for Manila’s gateway
Roel Landingin
September-December 2007

Bridging the digital gap
Allison Lopez, Riza Olchondra, Juliet Labog-Javellana with reports from
Julie S. Alipala
Chief: Fernando del Mundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 27-29, 2007

Malansang balak ng Hapon sa Pilipinas
Soliman A. Santos and Kenneth Roland A. Guda
Pinoy Weekly
October 17-23, 2007

What’s swimming in your soup?
Prime Sarmiento
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Published in Malaya, November 27-28, 2007

To focus attention and encourage reporting on the urgent issues of human rights, the environment, and governance and corruption, the JVOAEJ awards this year scanned both investigative and explanatory articles on these three topics.

For more information, click here. As seats are limited this year, please contact CMFR (+63 2 894-1326/894-1314) to confirm your attendance.

Established in 1990, the JVOAEJ has become one of the most prestigious journalism awards in the Philippines.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Militants allegedly abduct Ces Drilon, two cameramen

ABS-CBN 2 news anchor Ces Drilon and two camerapersons were abducted in Sulu, according to some reports.

Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants abduct 3-person TV team in Philippines

The Associated Press
Published in the International Herald Tribune
June 9, 2008

Philippine security forces were searching Monday for a Manila television reporter and two cameramen believed to have been abducted by al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants while pursuing a story.

ABS-CBN senior reporter Ces Drilon and her two crewmen were intercepted Sunday in volatile Jolo island's Maimbung township by armed men under Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader in the area, the regional police chief said.

Read more here. According to this report, the ABS-CBN management declined to comment on the issue at the moment, but is releasing a statement early today.

Below is a report from The Mindanao Examiner:

Sayyafs Seize Journalist, 3 Others In Southern Philippines

The Mindanao Examiner
June 9, 2008

Abu Sayyaf militants have seized a Filipino television journalist and two cameramen, including a Muslim university professor in the southern Philippine island of Sulu, police said Monday.

Police said Ces Drilon and her cameramen and their companion Octavio Dinampo were abducted in the village of Kulasi in the town of Maimbung. Drilon’s team arrived in Sulu on Saturday from Zamboanga City, said Supt. Julasirim Kasim, the provincial police chief.

“We received reports that the four were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf led by Albader Parad,” Kasim told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said Drilon’s group, from the television giant ABS-CBN, was believed taken to the hinterlands of Indanan town. Dinampo teaches at the Mindanao State University and is said to be helping Drilon in her coverage. The identities of the two cameramen were not immediately known.

“There is no demand yet for ransom,” Kasim said, adding, Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan convened the Crisis Management Committee to address the situation.

Read more here. Other related reports here and here. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility is going to issue a news alert on the incident.

I'm a bit surprised that none of the top news websites, even, the website of ABS-CBN 2, has so far carried a report on what happened. Or at least from my earlier scan of the news items on their websites and in Google Reader. NBN-4 reported on the incident earlier in the afternoon, but I was not able to catch its full report.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Debunking the myth about Obama's 'soft' media coverage

Finally found time to blog. That is, a 15-minute break from transcribing interviews.

Recent news about Barack Obama's victory over Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party's nominee in the upcoming U.S. elections made me remind an interesting piece I found online about media's insistence to call Obama as the "black candidate". Do you agree with what the writer, James Burnett, said?

Barack Obama is white!
James Burnett
The Miami Herald
May 14, 2008

Getting ready for work this morning I channel surfed between CNN, Headline News, MSNBC, and FNC, and I heard no fewer than six talking heads refer to Obama as "African American" AKA black, and potentially "the first African American" president. To be fair, I've sipped that Kool-Aid once or twice and not thinking before I spoke or wrote, referred to Obama as a black candidate.

It is short-sighted and disingenuous for my elevated peers to keep referring to Obama as black or African American. He is biracial.

And while his skin color...and Clinton's gender, and McCain's age shouldn't matter in terms of their qualifications, how we address those characteristics should matter to you.

Read more here.

Speaking of the media coverage of Obama, here is a study on the media coverage of the top candidates conducted by the respected Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Among other findings, the study belied the notion that Obama enjoyed the most positive media coverage, or that the media were "soft" on him than Clinton during the primaries. Compared to Obama, Clinton also received similar amount of positive coverage. Both also had similar amounts of negative coverage in the press.

Character and the Primaries of 2008
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University
May 29, 2008

If campaigns for president are in part a battle for control of the master narrative about character, Democrat Barack Obama has not enjoyed a better ride in the press than rival Hillary Clinton, according to a new study of primary coverage by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative, according to the study, which examined the coverage of the candidates’ character, history, leadership and appeal—apart from the electoral results and the tactics of their campaigns.

The trajectory of the coverage, however, began to turn against Obama, and did so well before questions surfaced about his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Shortly after Clinton criticized the media for being soft on Obama during a debate, the narrative about him began to turn more skeptical—and indeed became more negative than the coverage of Clinton herself. What’s more, an additional analysis of more general campaign topics suggests the Obama narrative became even more negative later in March, April and May.

On the Republican side, John McCain, the candidate who quickly clinched his party’s nomination, has had a harder time controlling his message in the press. Fully 57% of the narratives studied about him were critical in nature, though a look back through 2007 reveals the storyline about the Republican nominee has steadily improved with time.

Other findings of the study included:
  • The year 2008 started off extremely well for Obama. Positive assertions commanded 77% of the narrative studied about him from January 1 -13. By March 9, the figure had dropped to 53%. During this time statements concerning his inexperience and youth more than doubled in prevalence.
  • The idea of Clinton as prepared to lead on Day One built steadily over time, reaching more than half of the assertions studied by mid-February. Despite this, over time likely Democratic voters came to think of Obama, more so than Clinton, as best prepared to lead the country—a sign that perhaps they forgive his inexperience in favor of change.
  • The dominant theme about McCain, that he may not be a true conservative, was established early in the coverage––evident in the first months of 2007—and has resonated as a concern even among those in his own party. As late as April 2008, more than a month after McCain has secured the party’s nomination, likely Republican voters were split in our surveys over whether he really is a true conservative.
  • The most common sources for these narratives were the campaign themselves—both the positive impressions candidates wanted to project about themselves and the negative images they wanted to suggest about their rivals. Fully 39% of the assertions studied came from the campaigns, notably higher than the 30% found in a similar study four years earlier, demonstrating the degree to which candidates directly influenced the coverage. Journalists were not far behind as a source of these master narratives (36%), though the results differed somewhat by candidate.
  • While differences by media were minimal, some did stand out. Network morning news is notable for the degree to which it offered an exceptionally positive personal impression of Hillary Clinton. Fully 84% of the assertions studied in those programs projected positive master narratives of the former first lady, some 20 percentage points more positive than about Obama. And on cable news, the three rival channels differed markedly from each other in their treatment of the candidates.
  • Looking beyond the master narratives about the candidates personally, coverage overall in 2008 has so far focused largely on the horse race. Fully 78% of the stories studied between January 1 and the first week of May have focused on political matters, such as who won the latest primary. By contrast, policy stories made up 7% of the stories, personal matters 7%, and the candidates’ public record, 2%. And few major storylines stand out.
Click here to read this well-researched study.

A CNN analysis on why Clinton's bid failed also reflected the notion that the media were favorably covering Obama compared with the coverage of the former First Lady.

Analysis: Why Clinton's bid failed
By Rebecca Sinderbrand
CNN Associate Political Editor
June 6, 2008

As media coverage of Clinton's candidacy shifted to reflect the new realities of the race, her campaign started to develop a hostility that permeated the entire organization and proved a distraction from far more daunting challenges.

At the top, former President Clinton publicly and privately railed against what he called "the most biased coverage in history," and both Clintons complained of what they believed to be a pervasive sexism dominating the campaign narrative.

On campaign conference calls, a new press skepticism to ever-evolving standards of electoral success was often met with outright antagonism from Clinton staffers.

Read more here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The "engaged independence" of the press amid political crises

One thing that is certainly not lacking in this sorry land of ours are the political scandals--often, if not all, involve the putative president and her family. From the Hello, Garci scandal to the more recent ones such as the NBN-ZTE deal, Spratlys controversy, and rice crisis, it seems political turmoil in the Philippines has never stopped, and in fact exacerbated, since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power.

Given the continuing political crisis, should the press remain "disinterested" and "disengaged" in its coverage? Should journalists continue to cover issues the way they have always been?

The political context pushes us in the press for a reexamination and reaffirmation of the crucial role of journalism in our society, as well as the professional values we hold dearly. And at the same time, the reexamination and reaffirmation should include an understanding of the political situation we are in, and more importantly, the policies--stated or otherwise--of the current administration.

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), and Luis Teodoro, PJR Reports editor, discuss the media coverage of political crises in the April edition of the PJR Reports. Both their views were presented at an earlier CMFR forum about the issue.

What is Journalism For?
by Melinda Quintos de Jesus
PJR Reports

April 2008

A crisis of leadership

The political crisis in the Philippines is a crisis of leadership, provoked initially by the initial controversy over the president’s interference to manipulate election results in 2004.

The crisis has been heightened by serial charges of corruption with a resulting loss of public trust and confidence in her leadership and her capacity to put public interest as the central value of her government. While these have all failed, the number of impeachment complaints (13) and attempts (three) filed in Congress— a strong indication of the depth of the crisis—are unprecedented in Philippine history.

But as has been pointed out by many critics of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it is not only the public officials currently in power who are failing. The entire political system, culture, and conduct of the ruling class are all in need of reform. Because weaknesses seem embedded in the system, the public seems at a loss about how best to resolve the crisis.

The public has not been able to unite on a strategy. The continuing challenge to the president has weakened the authority of government and the state, along with its agencies and instrumentalities. The profound polarization has eroded public support for government itself as leaders resort to a tactical approach to insure the president’s political survival.

The press community itself is divided. News reports and commentary reflect the opposing views of the factions among political groups and organizations, as well as those of civil society.

Read more here.

A Two-Way Street
by Luis V. Teodoro
PJR Reports
April 2008

Political crises take many forms. In this country—and for the generations represented here today—these forms have ranged from such critical events as the bombing of a political rally and the subsequent suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the declaration of martial rule, the killing of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., military-civilian mutinies that have unseated presidents, several coup attempts, and a declaration of a state of emergency which itself became an emergency for many groups and individuals as well as for the Bill of Rights.

Lately the crisis has taken the form of a confrontation between, on the one hand, a president more than a majority of the populace believes was not legitimately elected, and, on the other, a broad spectrum of forces that wants her government to at least account for, or to at most resign over, the vast network of corruption that has metastasized in it. Late last year, however, the country was also treated to a crisis which was erroneously reported as a coup attempt, the main component of which seemed to be a press conference in which the same putative president was asked to resign.

We have thus witnessed one political crisis after another, each of varying intensity, but each one being, by common consent, a turning point in the way the country is being governed. And that’s what a political crisis is—a moment in the life of a country in which issues of power and governance come to the surface to shatter the illusion of stability that every government this country has ever had since 1946 has taken pains to cultivate.

Read more here.
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