Can we afford to save the media but also losing the nation?

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“Can we afford to save the Philippines media and keep journalists safe but also lose our nation and democracy? I don’t know the answer,” said a representative of Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism, Malou Mangahas, in 2017 World Press Freedom Day’s consultative round-table on the feasibility of a special mechanism for the promotion and protection of the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Southeast Asia.

 

An interview with Executive Director of Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism, Malou Mangahas | Photo by Gustama Pandu

Mangahas was referring to Philippines’ President Duterte’s “war on drugs” as an example of current trend in Southeast Asia’s step back in what used to be improving situation of democracy and human rights.

we need to assist, rescue and help the media. But media has a bigger role to play, not just to focus on themselves, but to make democracy stronger

“This calls attention to the problem of due process and rule of law being challenged in our country. The media has had to report this. The situation is not really something easy to do, because even media has been traumatized and the president has been critical of journalists who question the integrity of the drug war, for the numbers are confusing, to the method of the police, to unsolved murders,” said her.

She added, “So the problem is putting the safety of journalists and the rule of media as truly connected to the survival of democracy and human rights in the Philippines. That’s why I was saying we need to assist,rescue and help the media. But media has a bigger role to play, not just to focus on themselves, but to make democracy stronger.”

 

If you are critical, you are biased

There are cases of public figure accusing media reports as being biased because they dislike the reports. And lots of people agree with the accusation because they also dislike what the media report.

So what should journalists do to clear the accusation?

“They need to speak together,” answered Mangahas.

“In the Philippines there are discussions about the need to speak together. More united as a community, and that means explaining the issues as individual journalists, as newsrooms, as an industry so that this unity could be reflected in the right perspective on the issues,” said her.

because we want to serve the people. We wanted this and for them to believe that we mean well, that is journalism, that is a public goal, for all of us.

Mangahas added, “I think we also need to do better journalism, and cover more critically. But this is because we don’t have an issue only with the president or the prime minister of a country, but because we want to serve the people. We wanted this and for them to believe that we mean well, that is journalism, that is a public goal, for all of us. Not just the politicians would think that we are critical and therefore we are biased, that is not how it works.”

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