Kian, Arnel and the Media

The objectivity of traditional media has been compromised through a sorry mix of slanted reportage, and constant and nearly consistent editorializing.

I cannot help but observe the glaring differences on how the media handled the story of the death of Kian delos Santos and the police entrapment of Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos.

I guess many are aware of the publicly available circumstances behind Delos Santos' death- 17 year-old Grade 11 student who was allegedly killed by three policemen during anti-drug operations by Caloocan City Police- that were exploited heavily by the media, portraying the kid as a "martyr" and the police as "enemies," up to a point that many journalists came up with slanted reports that vilify the entire Philippine National Police and even brand every single policeman in the nation as someone who should be feared by citizens like as if they were more than certain of that fact.

Unlike their coverage of the Kian delos Santos case, the same media treated the case of Msgr. Lagarejos, the parish priest in Taytay, Rizal who was caught along with a 13 year-old girl and her 16 year-old pimp inside a motel in Marikina City, differently, preferring to be more careful with their coverage by not coming up with reports that may paint a picture of him being an alleged sexual predator and the Roman Catholic Church being an institution that protects priests who committed serious public offenses.

Perhaps some will say that comparing the Delos Santos and Lagarejos cases is like comparing apples to oranges. However, in both instances, the media was supposed to simply honestly report the details of the story based on what they really are and not resort to editorializing. That did not happen, as the journalists who covered the two stories showed how two-faced they were- relentless in the bashing of the police in the former, but were meek as a lamb with the latter.

The objectivity of traditional media has been compromised through a sorry mix of slanted reportage, and constant and nearly consistent editorializing. It has become more of an agent of mind-conditioning of the masses, which is why some have the impression that many members of the media operate on behalf of certain political and/or business interests.

What the media should have done in both the Delos Santos and Lagarejos cases is to just stick to the facts, wait for the investigation to be finished, and cease and desist from adding political colors in both of them or in any story that they will cover. The current state of affairs in Philippine media, and the practices of many media practitioners caused the now thinking public to lose trust in them and slowly shift to social media, proof of which is the result of the fifth Philippine Trust Index (PTI), which showed that 87.3 percent of Filipinos trust social media while only 73.4 percent of trust traditional media.  It will be extremely difficult for them to “take back the Internet” now that they are losing heavily to social media practitioners, and, with the help of the Internet, the masses have become more discerning, allowing them to question traditional media reports in real time through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

During a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors in the Washington, DC on April 14, 1988, the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew described Philippine media as "a wildly partisan press that helped Filipino politicians to flood the marketplace of ideas with junk, and confused and befuddled the people so that they could not see what their vital interests were in a developing country." Almost 30 years later, that is still the case with traditional media today. Good thing social media has taken away the traditional media’s tight hold on the flow and quality of information that is being disseminated to the masses. Perhaps that should make the traditional media practitioners think more than twice before coming up with yet another slanted report or brand social media practitioners as purveyors of “fake news.”



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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