There is an active discussion on how media cover the 2010 elections. Even before the campaign period, there were already talks that some journalists, and even media network are bias to certain candidates.
I have noticed this too. And this practically happened in 2004 election coverage. Everything has just been replicated, and worsen I think.
I did not stop myself to share my observations to my Facebook friends. As expcted, I got different reactions especially when I mentioned the word bias.
The word bias is bias in itself. It is very difficult to prove. But it can be easily felt by viewers and readers. Bias is a highly disputed word.
A good friend reminded me that I might have found certain journalists as bias because the story angle is not favorable to my candidate. In part, he is right. But of course I should not be complianing if I feel there is a balance treatment. Again, the balance treatment that I mention an equally disputed word.
This reminds me of Cesar Baldicantos, the editor of now defunct Tingog Misamis. In a talk to reporters and student interns, he told the story of the frogs in the well. It was really relevant so let me share it here.
The frogs in the well
There were frogs inside the dried well. They were talking how the sky really looked like. It was daytime so they saw the clear blue sky. Some of them believed that the sky was more than just a blue thing, so they initiated an investigation.
They asked one frog to climbed to see what the sky really looked like. When the frog came back he told the group that the sky was not really a circular blue thing but a very wide blue space with some white cotton and foamy things on it.
It was unbelievable to other frogs so they sent another one. When the second frog came back, he told that the sky was really very wide but not really a blue one. It looked like a darkened space with some part looked like bloody painting.
As expected, other frogs doubted. The third frog was sent to investigate further. When the third frog came back, it was furious because the things he heard from other frogs were different from what he saw. The sky was actually a big black space dotted with sparking white thing with a big white circular disk.
This cause heated argument among the frogs inside the dried well.
What is the relevance?
Well, you know that each of the frog was telling the truth. The truths they knew were just not enough.
We can learn many lessons from the frogs. And I think this reminds you of the story, The Blind men and the Elephant.
There differences are that our journalists are not frogs nor the blind men. Of course they are neither omnipotent to see everything. But they know how to play with information and present them to us meaningfully. That’s their profession and that’s a very noble profession.
Why I am saying there is bias? It is because my biased belief is strongly pointing that the reporters who are reporting bias reports know that they are favoring something or someone. I can understand it if there is no spinning of information. And if the cause of that bias is human limitation.
Another point that I wish to convey is the disclosure of media. This will surely stop the accusation if being bias. For example, some TV networks and newspaper are claiming that their news is balanced; that they are for the truth; but their reports are highly favorable to a particular candidate and political party. So where is objectivity there? If they only reveal to public that they are supporting that candidate, why should the public accuse them as bias?
I contribute to Blogwatch.ph. All contributors are asked to disclose political affiliations and whom they are supporting (not necessarily campaigning for). The reason is very logical. It help readers to intellectually sift information. No one can claim that Blogwatch is bias towards one candidate. Here is my disclosure at Blogwatch.ph.
What we want?
We simply want one thing from our media during this election coverage. No spin. No bias.
Of course I know that this is not simple as it is. Media also need to survive. Media has owners and some owners are political backers. So what can an ordinary reporter do when the owner is wanting something else? This is a very difficult question and less-tackled one.
You can accuse me of being bias here if I am the only person who tells you about this observation (on media bias). There are lot of us. But please check also why some journalists and networks are not accused of being bias. I think, it makes sense to ask why FROG A is tagged as bias and why FROG B is not tagged as bias.
But again and again, we are not frogs and we are not blind men. And we don’t have elephants here. We have many dried wells. Share your thoughts!