Press freedom is not one way

By: NESTOR B. RAMIREZ January 23,2018 - 10:21 PM

RAMIREZ

As a former reporter and now opinion writer and journalism professor, I can say without blinking an eye that I am for a free press.

However, the freedom that we dearly love and are willing to die for is not absolute because we have the obligation and responsibility to retain its independence.

Last Friday, although I did not campaign among my students and peers, I wore black in solidarity with my fellow media workers in their call for the preservation of the freedom of the press following the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the incorporation paper of Rappler.

I joined the call on my own because I also have reservations on the issue at hand that I believed should not only be fought using free expression in any medium but should also be settled in court because of its legal implications.

What is clear is that there is repression against a media entity but the reason used by the government on why they are being thumped on is better left to the court to determine and take this case to be cautious in all the matters of media operation.

Apparently, the media is on a tightrope under the Duterte administration because we have a president who is compulsive in his criticism against us regardless whether he has a basis or without for his public censure.

Gone are the days that members of the media can go on committing malpractice and hide under the cloak of freedom of the press as guaranteed in the constitution because there are already attempts to change the fundamental laws that guarantee us that liberty.

It is apparent that the mainstream media is under heavy attack not only by trolls but no less than by the president himself and other ranking officials of the government who are supposed to uphold the freedom of expression under the democratic rule.

We are now on equal ground with anyone else because we no longer have the exclusivity of the sender role of the media.

The public is ready at hand to cuff on our excesses and worse, attack us even if we presented flawless and objective reports just because they are affected by the news.

In the midst of all these attacks against the mainstream media’s vigilance, there is only one solution I can think of and that is the ethical practice of journalism.

How can we criticize the excesses of the government if some practitioners continue to renege on our obligation to press freedom, and that is by simply following the ethics of journalism.

Freedom of the press is not one way because this free exercise requires with it an immense degree of credibility and integrity.

How can we earn respect and believability when some of our own kind is persistent in committing malpractice and entitlement?

Just recently I was informed that during the launching of an electronic money transfer business, P1,000 was transmitted to those who covered the event through electronic money transfer.

My informant said at the start of the activity the organizers asked for their contact number and moments after they left the venue, they received notification through text that they received such amount.

This scenario of defiance to follow the code of ethics is the very reason that makes journalists vulnerable to attack and criticisms especially coming from the state in which journalists are supposed to watch over.

It is timely that the Embassy of Canada, through its public affairs attaché Mr. Carlo Figueroa, is bringing to Cebu this year’s Marshal McLuhan Fellow, Manny Mogato, correspondent of Reuters, one of the world’s largest news wire agencies.

The talk will be held tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) Audio Visual Room.

Mr. Mogato will give a lecture to aspiring journalists on the topic “Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news and challenges of accountability in the new media.”

The presentation will discuss how the spread of fake news undermines the news media’s role.

His presentation would also like to discuss the question: “In a time when human rights and other fundamental freedoms in the Philippines are under the spotlight, what should journalists do to respond to the threats of fake news and the lack of accountability by purveyors of false information?”

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