Trusting The Press

Randy David wrote the other day about how he noticed newspapers treated PNoy’s speech. In it he said:

President Aquino’s speech at the annual presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) last Oct. 27 highlighted many aspects of this strained relationship.


In that speech, Mr. Aquino chose to dwell on his observations of media reportage during his presidency. He was candid and critical—a refreshing trait he does not hide regardless of the audience.


Interestingly enough, the media ignored his main speech and focused instead on his answers to questions in the open forum. If I had not gone to the government’s official website to check out the text of the President’s speech, I would not have guessed its topic from the news reports.

I remember that myself because the days after the only stories about him were about his love life, or some such triviality. It also reminded me of a similar situation.

A year after Yolanda Pnoy was giving a speech at Leyte. I was stuck in traffic and there wasn’t anything else interesting on the radio to so I listened to the whole thing. Basically he was reading off of his Cabinet Secretaries reports all of whom were seated behind him. He was reading things like how many had been given jobs since then, how many hospitals were online, classrooms refurbished, families re united, roads repaired etc. etc. It was a long list.

As you would expect at the end of his speech he said something like ‘I wish we could have done more’.

What were the headlines the day after? ‘PNoy Wishes He Could Have Done More’.

Not only did the press pick the headline with the most potential for firing up people’s emotions, they didn’t even print a single line of any of the achievements he mentioned. I checked INq, Philstar, etc., nothing.

I have no idea of course if any of those accomplishments were true. But shouldn’t they have been given SOME mention?

I realize now though, after more time observing the press, this may not necessarily be against PNoy per se. Rather this is a reflection on the lengths the press would go for readers attention. Their goal is to make people click and read them, to hell with everything else including fairness.

If you have any doubt about that, imagine the process the editor had to go through to come up with ‘PNoy Wishes He Could Have Done More’. The speech took 45 minutes more or less. That’s several pages filled text with lots of numbers, statistics and all manner of data that were either positive or neutral at the very least. What the editor did was ignore all that then focus on the potentially loaded ‘I wish we could have done more.’. If that’s not a sign of hyperbole bias I do not know what is.

A second but no less important observation is the failure of the press to perform its basic task which is to plain and simply inform the public.

Like I said, I do not know if any of the things PNoy said were true. Like most people I am affected to an emotional level about what happened at Tacloban, Masapano, Lumad, and the current Laglag Bala situation to name a few.

Any conscientious individual will want to search for answers wherever they can find it, and that’s where the press comes in. Sure they can print opinions either way, and looking for answers, I’d read them. An article hating him? I’d read it. An article praising him? I’d read that too. As long as the writer drives home a valid point based on facts and research, I’ll click and read it. I’ll take it all in. I need answers. I’m dying to know where to direct my pain.


However the press also needs to provide the facts per se, and it is not doing that if it doesn’t print a WHOLE speech. Without this we have no context, so it is no surprise a lot of the public base their reactions on some incendiary meme an SEO expert designed to deliver clicks.

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