By Chit Estella
June 30, 2006
It is fast becoming a tendency that when one talks about journalists, one immediately thinks of the word “killings.”
It’s the reflexive response one gets these days, not unlike when one hears “Mindanao” and the word “conflict” comes to mind. Or “child,” which is quickly followed by “exploitation.”
The unfortunate truth is that such associations are firmly embedded in reality. In the case of journalists, the killings have become even more atrocious by the flippancy with which it is dealt by government officials, specifically the ones who have the duty to go after the criminals. The government is treating murders of media members the same way it treats stories about corruption—ignoring them and expecting the cries of anger, along with the controversy, will pass.
The sad fact is that the tactic has been proven to be not without merit. Crusaders eventually get tired, but not the corrupt—or the murderous. At least that is the way it is, unless we consciously stop it from being so.
The recent slaying of Fernando Batul, a broadcast journalist from Palawan, has had the effect of stoking, rather than putting out, the embers of indignation in the media community. No, it is not just another murder. It is one in a growing list that is rousing a jaded institution. In this issue of PJR Reports, a commentary by Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, explains why.
If only because we all fear for the generations that come after us, we deem it a duty to make sure we bequeath a country that will give them more hope than it so far has provided us their elders. That is the thought that keeps many Filipinos, including journalists, going.
But who are these citizens of the future, these children? How well do we know them? How well did we try to know them? This month, we feature a study on how media treat children in the news.
And then there are young people, virtually still children, who even now are testing their capabilities in the world they have yet to inherit. The experience of KNN, a children’s television program, gives the lesson that it is never too early to allow young people to see the world from their own eyes and interpret it with their own voice.
Sometimes, it is all that tired adults need: a fresh outlook. The perspective of those just raring to start. The optimism of those who have not yet been there nor done that.
Not quite two years in his career as a journalist, television reporter Willard Cheng shares with readers his initiation into the world of police reporting. What happens when a Jesuit-educated young man meets the most maligned character in Philippine officialdom—the policeman? The answer surprises: the cop gets the respect of the Ateneo graduate.
To be sure, the life of a reporter can take many twists and turns. Just ask Doris Bigornia, a former reporter of the station where Cheng now works. The problem seems to have started with a story that, from Bigornia’s point of view, displayed her loyalty to her station, ABS-CBN. But her employer didn’t see it that way. From there, the incident gave rise to others that eventually resulted in a case being filed with the National Labor Relations Commission, the employee-employer counterpart agency of a divorce court.
How to navigate in a sea of gray—that is the problem. Would that the world were in black and white. But it’s not. Never was and never will be.
We need fog lights.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), publisher of the PJR Reports, has nothing to do with an alleged survey on the Tulfo brothers that was recently sent to media organizations.
Official correspondence from CMFR would include, among other things:
• a cover letter from the CMFR staff; • the organization’s logo, and • correct CMFR postal and online address, and contact information.