Monday, April 23, 2007

Media Corruption--the Untouchable Story

AMANDO DORONILA of the Philippine Daily Innuendo would have us believe that the run of journalists being attacked or killed in the country is because the Philippines has become a Noam-Chomsky-style "failed state." You know, the kind of country whose main characteristics are one, "the inability or unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence or even destruction;" two, "their tendency to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and hence, free to carry out aggression and violence." Doronila squarely locates the Philippines among such outlaw states "...whose leaderships dismiss international law and treaties, with contempt. Such instruments may be binding on others but not on the outlaw state.” (You know, like the United States of America and its allies like Israel and the Philippines.) I am sure Mr. Doronila also has in mind those UN Rapporteurs and Unelected Judges in Geneva's Permanent People's Tribunal, as the ones whose decrees and findings are being ignored by such outlaw states as the US and the Philippines that have recently been judged guilty of "crimes against humanity"--after they heard the testimony and viewed the "evidence" presented to them by Jose Maria Sison, who is the author and leader of the longest running communist insurgency in the history of the world and currently under the tender loving care of Dutch friggin' welfare.

But before Doronila stands up with Philip Alston to sing the praises of the Internationale Community and such outstanding defenders of human rights in the United Nations as the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran, perhaps we should examine a different theory about the spate of journalists being killed or attacked in the Philippines.

It has to do with the issue of MEDIA CORRUPTION, a subject you will never find discussed very much at all by the Main Stream Media pundits, broadcasters and other "professionals". Yet it is no secret at all that the Mass Media as an institution is not very different at all from other institutions in the Philippines like the government. Although they like to congratulate themselves over how they are the institution people turn to for justice and retribution, the truth is that the Mass Media are just as corrupt as any other government agency, and far more cunning and hypocritical in denying and hiding the fact. Like any good Mafia, omerta is an unwritten rule never violated by members of the media. Even if reporters, broadcasters and pundits are on the take at many--no, ALL--media organizations, you won't ever hear a word of it mentioned in...the Media! Try as hard as people like Doronila might to portray the media as selfless defenders of Press Freedom and the Public's Right to Know, the reality is, the Mass Media is just as corrupt and dishonest as the people and institutions they attack, criticize, expose and defame.

Right now being election campaign season, for example, money and favors are raining down on the Media. What are the chances I wonder, that among all those deals and arrangements that have been made between politicians and officeholders on the one hand, and reporters, broadcasters and station managers on the other, that none will go sour? That no one will be betrayed or disappointed? That no one will be killed or revenged upon as a result?

We must allow for the possibility that not all of these journalists involved in drive-by shootings are also involved in deals gone sour or are the target of local warlords and illegal interests that they have indeed exposed. But it stretches believability for Doronila to claim that they are all the result of a state failing to protect defenders of Press Freedom from exposing local venalities and corrupt officials. Perhaps too cynically, many Filipinos actually believe these journalists deserve what they get, or have it coming to them from enemies of the friends from whom they have been on the take. Extortion, blackmail and influence peddling are clearly not the exclusive province of the warlords and the politicians. Increasingly, the power of mass media is being turned to personal profit by journalists and other media practitioners. The violence we see, is at least in part, the result of all this business that really has little to do with journalism as such.

The analogy I really like is that between modern day Journalists and the Spanish era frailocracy--mainly because the quality of the hypocrisy and the degree of self-righteousness between these two groups is roughly the same in that whilst both were officially fighting social evils and working for the common good, the reality was, and is, that many of their members and adherents were as much participants in that evil and venality whilst outwardly denouncing them.
There is a deeper connection between Mass Media and the old frailocracy too. It has to do with the Separation of Church and State, which the Spanish Taliban clearly did not subscribe to; and the Separation of the Press and State, by which I mean that like the frailocracy, the Media have come to a point of power and influence that they actually "set the agenda" for discussion and debate by the people and the State. Virtually nothing happens or is paid attention to that the Media does not put in headlines or prime time newscasts, whether at the national or the local level.

Until and unless the Mass Media can regain its reputation for professionalism and impartiality, as opposed to being willing tools of one or the other political and economic interest, whether traditional politicians or politicians of the Left, I don't think its practitioners should look to Public Outrage for protection when their deals go sour or they are seen by deadly and serious forces as taking sides for their own profit and advantage.


Dominique said...

As I heard it (rightly or wrongly), many of the journalists killed were "radio block-timers" whose air times were paid for and whose partiality would be in question.

Not a totally new development either. When my parents were just starting their business almost 40 years ago, a radio announcer was blackmailing them with threat of an expose (for whatever reasons.) Payoff: trip to Manila, etc., etc. I suppose it still happens.

dvdty said...

Shouldn't the public outrage against these political killings be more about the sanctity of life and not the moral integrity of the victims themselves?

It seems to me that your opinion on the matter says more about your opinion on journalists in general and PDI in particular more than anything else.

DJB Rizalist said...

I would like to think, we should care the most about the integrity of the journalistic profession and the institutions of the Media. No friar or his fate and foibles was more important than the the Church and its people, yet each of the friar characters could never tell the difference. It's the same with the Media today. Doronila and his ilk would like us to think they deserve some kind of special treatment just because they ARE journalists. I don't agree. Every human being should be held responsible for his own acts and their consequences. Every case here is different and unique, with its own circumstances, causes and details. Doronila wants us to ignore all that and ascribe everything to an evil government and its policies.

john marzan said...

Yes, I believe there is corruption in the media. there are people on the gov't take. but this is applicable more towards the pro-arroyo journalists that those who are anti.

besides, eto ang attitude ni mike arroyo and the late great wycoco re the media killings dati nung nasa Bacolod Press Club (2005).

john marzan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kapanalig_sa_wala said...

In a nation where everywhere you turn to, corruption is almost like a way of life, it's not at all unimaginable. We have been conditioned to think by the mainstream mass media by deliberate omission that oftentimes truth is shaped solely by what they choose to dish out that we tend to not see the fact they are part of the whole scheme of things.