Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Government and the Media

It is heartwarming to see government officials not afraid of the media. Senator Joker Arroyo is currently a very good poster boy on how government should treat media: take them to task for their wrongdoings. "Don’t tempt us to use our powers here, to now issue a general broadcast policy—that will be a law,” Arroyo warned the executives led by Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN, Jessica Soho of GMA-7, and Luchi Cruz-Valdes of TV5. Arroyo, a human rights lawyer who defended journalists during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, cited provisions of Republic Act No. 7966, which granted franchises to broadcast networks, particularly on “self-regulation.”

That is very morale boosting especially after the angst that built up these past few days while watching Raffy Tulfo pathetically justifying his stupidity of tying up the single line to Mendoza at the most critical moments. Adding to my desire to wring his neck is his trying hard American twang that really sounds horrible. He looks even more stupid while trying so. But that is not what I really want to write about these days.

While I do applaud Sen Arroyo for standing up the media and their lack of sense of country while hiding behind the phrase, "We are just doing our job," I think it is really unecessary to further talk to the media and negotiate and request them to self regulate. Some people will say that policemen in the Philippines may be among the most undisciplined lot but I am sure that these same policemen will look like Sunday-school teachers if you make them stand side by side with members of the Philippine media. As you can see in the inquiries right now, media men will do anything and everything just to outscoop one another. Never mind if somebody or everybody dies.

It will take a long time before the media changes. So in the interim, here is my simple suggestions especially for the police:

The government and its instrumentalities, especially the PNP, should simply ignore the media and treat them as if they are not there. Let them do their job, let us do ours. This is so because no matter how much we beg, the media will report what they want to report. Now for us, let us just do our job according to the book and treat media as if they are not there.

In armed situations, media rarely respects any rule so let us not overburden ourselves in shooing them away. If they want to go in the middle of a firefight, let us not stop them. Let them do their job, let us do ours. Act as if they are not there. If your line of fire to an opponent is blocked by a media man, shoot through anyway. Act as if the media man is not there. If a media man is interviewing a hostage taker and the assault order is given, go ahead with the assault. Act as if the media man is not there. Shoot through your normal line of fire.

Like in the Maguindanao massacre, those media people know that that part of the Philippines is almost lawless. They themselves report and describe Mindanao as such. They themselves know the dangers thus they always love to trumpet "WALANG KINATATAKUTAN, WALANG SINISINO, WALANG INAATRASAN, WALANG BLAH BLAH BLAH." So when something like the Maguindanao incident happens, the government should also treat media as if they are not there. The PNP should exclude them from the victims list or at the very least, just ignore them in the investigation. They are not there.

When mediamen get death threats, the government should treat them as if they do not exist. Let them live up to their boasts that they are ready to die for their profession. It is time that we grant all their wishes!