P-Noy, Arroyo, and the Philippine Media

Listening to President Noynoy Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address this afternoon on YouTube left me with some questions. While he was enumerating the anomalies committed by his predeccessor Gloria Arroyo, I couldn’t help but wonder: where was the national media throughout those trying times in the country? I was particularly thinking of the national media because as we all know, members of the local media were being wiped out by corrupt local officials, gambling lords, and other power brokers during the entire time Arroyo was in power.

What happened to the Hello Garci scandal? The shockingly anomalous ZTE-NBN deal? And the most horrifying of all, the Ampatuan massacre? Did any journalist or media outfit investigate with dedication any of these terrible scandals?

No story is worth one’s life, I often heard one Journalism professor in my former department tell his students.  And I totally agree with him.  One would find it difficult to pursue the profession with the same  courage and dedication shown by Shiela Coronel, Marites Vitug, and Glenda Gloria, among other hard-hitting and respected journos, during Arroyo’s despotic term.  That these brave women and other commited journos are alive today is a blessing, and we know they cannot report against ‘the culture of impunity’  all by themselves. Unfortunately, the private interests of media owners take precedence over national interests in the Philippines which further constrain journalists from pursuing their work. 

In the existing political climate in the Philippines, is investigate journalism no longer a possible project for the media?  Why is the media becoming less and less effective in performing its role as the Fourth Estate in our country?  Is it just Gloria’s authoritarian rule that’s responsible for the media’s sad state of affairs, or should we put the blame on selfish media owners who are stifling the spirit of the profession?  Leaders and governments will come and go but we need a strong, reliable media to help us make sense of what’s going on in our country, in both good and bad times.

On the lighter side, here are some bland story ideas that I would write about if I had the chance to do so 😉

1.   What can officials and students of Assumption College say about their most famous alumna? Why have college officials kept silent about the abuses of the Arroyo government?

2.  The CBCP: where were the bishops during Arroyo’s plunder of the country?

3.  Why is the government bent on making Filipinos its main export?  Which president was responsible for systematising export of Filipino workers to the world? And why???  Is the Philippines going to be the next Greece of Southeast Asia?

Oh, by the way, why do TV news anchors shout and sound overly dramatic when they read the news? (Because most of them are former radio anchors?) I remember that news readers looked – and sounded – calm and composed 20-30 years ago. Ahh, how I wish those days were back…

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