The press freedom that we celebrate
The Kapisanan nga mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Cebu chapter commenced the celebration of Broadcasters Month last Sunday with a parade and on the third week of this month, the print news organizations will also hold the yearly Press Freedom Week Celebration.
In my understanding, the purpose of the celebration is to commemorate the freedom that the media got back following the dark years of martial law so that the present practitioners would take care of the freedom that was once denied.
Maintaining that freedom is very relevant so that the public would be given the information they need to know without restraint.
Organizers should consider the new threats to the freedom of the press which, among many things, include irresponsible reportage, unethical practices done by many practitioners especially those accepting bribes and the social media trolls who feed trash to the public in the social media platform.
Fighting to be free and sustaining the freedom are two operative concepts that are related but distinct from each other.
The former is already being enjoyed and was already granted to us by the brave men and women who risked their lives being incarcerated to report the truth while the latter is a continuing task that each one of us in the media would work hard to retain, not for our own benefit but for the sake of the public.
Like power, freedom requires the practice of responsibility because one could easily lose that freedom when not using it with utmost caution and restraint and without consideration of how those who came before them shed blood and tears just to gain what we enjoy.
It is not remote that we will lose the freedom that we are celebrating every month of September with parades, corporate-sponsored parties and the less-attended seminars and fora if the present batch of media practitioners would not carry their task with utmost responsibility.
There lies in the drawer of my office table nine envelopes containing cash and gift certificates turned over by interns doing journalistic exposure in the five local dailies.
There could have been more than 20 of them if those were not donated earlier to charitable institutions.
It is sad to hear from my students that they have been told by regular members of the media that it is all right to accept the envelopes, as everyone is doing it anyway.
This twisted belief by some media practitioners is endangering the freedom that we enjoy today.
The envelopes were proudly given by media handlers or PR men to media covering press conferences, as if believing that they were extending some financial help to the lowly paid media men in Cebu.
By standards, what the Cebu media are receiving in salary is not low. Many are just enjoying a lifestyle beyond their means.
Gone are the days when the public would totally rely on what they read on the media for information that they need for the day.
The environment has totally changed and gone are the days that the public will swallow the information from the media because of its counterpart, the social media.
Consuming the media has ceased to be just getting information from their favorite broadcast stations and newspapers of choice because in the new media, information would find you in the social media platform that you engaged into regardless of whether it is authentic or just trash.
Legitimate media practitioners should contemplate if they continue to accept chunks of financial dole outs from patrons or choose to remain responsible in carrying out their duties.
This in turn would let them enjoy the essence of press freedom which is more important than money as well as respect from the public and self satisfaction for doing the job right.
Let us not wait when press freedom will lose it essence just like when salt loses its flavor.
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