Bias in media’s 2010 campaign coverage?

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!

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Supreme Court ruling on appointed officials: equal protection or undue advantage?

Cebu City residents had expected GSIS chairman Winston Garcia to run as city mayor. But Garcia did not file his Certificate of Candidacy. Presumably, Garcia has still many things to do in GSIS. Presumably, Garcia doesn’t want to leave his position. As appointed official, he is considered as automatically resigned from his post once he file his COC based on the Omnibus Election Code.

Why should we not allow officials like Winston Garcia to run without leaving their post?

The recent Supreme Court ruling answers the question. Suprisingly, SC favored appointed officials like Winston.

In an 8-6 vote, the SC declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Omnibus Election Code prohibiting an appointive government official from discharging his functions after filing his COC, PhilStar.com report reads. The high court also nullified similar rules and provisions, including the provision of Resolution 8678 issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the same report added.

With this ruling, Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Vicente Sotto III should not resign to run for senator; Gilbert Teodoro, National Defense Secretart and chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council should not resign to run as president.

In reaching this decision, eight of the Supreme Court justices said the law violated the constitutional guarantee that no person should be denied the equal protection of the law, the editorial of Manila Standard Today observes.

But by giving equal protection of the law to appointed officials, the Supreme Court had given undue advantage. A public school head can run without leaving his position, a radio station manager of state-run Radyo ng Bayan can run without leaving his job. Imagine a police chief seeking a local position or a local COMELEC official running for mayor who don’t leave his job?

Of course, it sounds immoral and ethical if those people run without resigning. But what is immoral and unethical is considered as legal. There will be no violation of the law.

In Maguindanao massacre, the warlords are still alive!

Maguindanao warlords are drinking, feasting, and merrymaking because they have killed and immediately buried more than fifty people in just one morning. As of today, according to Inquirer report, the death toll reach to 57. This worst election-related killing saddened President Gloria Arroyo that she declared November 25 as the national day of mourning. “This is a supreme act of inhumanity that is a blight on our nation.” President Arroyo said in a statement quoted by the same Inquirer report.

Maguindanao massacre shocked the Filipino nation. The whole world is equally shocked because aside from women, 12 journalists were also killed.  “Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day”, Reporters Without Borders noted.

I wish to add my voice to loud voice condemning the Maguindanao massacre and calling for swift justice.

But three days after the killings, no one was questioned. No one was arrested. Who wants to arrest the untouchables anyway. There are no untouchables, Malacanang told reporters. It seems physical and circumstantial evidences are not yet enough.

The President herself vowed to give justice to the victims. I hope she will.

I won’t label Maguindanao as killing field. Not yet this time. But sooner or later, that part in Mindanao becomes the killing field of warlords in the new century! Unless the President Arroyo mobilizes all her power to destroy the armed groups controlled by few families.

We lost 57 lives (and still counting) in Maguindanao massacre and we meet the warlords who still wield power.

By the way, who are the warlords? I think Commission on Human Rights chairwoman, Leila De Lima, can point them. I feel President Gloria Arroyo knows them.

Rise and fall of narco-communities

The country’s anti-drug czar, no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, must have seen last night’s episode of ABS-CBN’s XXX. Perhaps she might consider getting the services of ABS-CBN’s program researchers and reporters!

The XXX episode narrated how an XXX asset (Does the network pay its asset?), with a secret camera, penetrated to a community of drug sellers, users, and supporters. As I watched, I feel the need to name such community. I think it is best to call it, narco-community!

The same episode also described how people of the entire community connived on selling and marketing drugs. There were guides for those who wish to enter a drug den; some individuals served as guard, trying to check their customer. Some areas are for customer (called as scorers) and one area is restricted to outsiders. It has this sign: Bawal ang scorer.

Shabu was sold like just another kind of commodity; drugs paraphernalia (aluminum foil strips) are sold in sari-sari store. The spy camera caught several men, some women, old and young, who were actively conniving on their narco-community activities. I appeared that they were doing the normal thing.

Narco-communities develop their own narcotics culture!

To make the episode spicy, XXX team went to Cavite police. With close coordination with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Cavite police surprised the Imus narco-community! As expected, the police was shocked to what they seen, the mayor was equally surprised!

Really surprising? Or we need to get surprised to dramatize everything?

I don’t think the country’s anti-drug czar will get surprised!

I was not surprised. Why? This is not something new. Narco-communities don’t just thrive in Pasig (remember shabu tiange?) nor in Cavite. Narco-communities exist anywhere!

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ABS-CBN, the Lopezes, and the 2010 election

ABS-CBN’s Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo: Ako ang Simula is a good example of how mass media take part in the transformation of our society. While it’s too early to talk on the impact of  Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo: Ako ang Simula, it’s launching in May 11, 2009 proved on how citizens get excited on being involved in getting and sharing information.

Which way ABS-CBN will take in 2010? As TV giant and with its nationwide reach, it surely gets high impact among voters. While ABS-CBN project itself as an independent media, we cannot forget the fact that media companies cannot always distance itself from its owners. Will ABS-CBN’s coverage in 2010 elections cannot be tinted with bias to politicians the Lopezes are siding with?

The Lopez family has businesses to protect so it is difficult to believe that the family remains neutral in 2010.

To whom will Lopez family side with in 2010? Most likely, ABS-CBN supports to candidates who also sided with its owners. Of course, the biases of ABS-CBN, whatever they are, are highly unnoticeable.

Recently, ABS-CBN news anchor Korina Sanchez her love affairs to Mar Roxas gets heavy airtime in various program in ABS-CBN. We all know that Mar Roxas is aggressively positioning himself to win in 2010 and ABS-CBN’s exposure to her relationship with Korina will surely gets impact.

Here’s the question: Are the Lopezes favor Mar?

Blog authored by batang buotan: (Link opens in new window)

Gilbert Teodoro Jr. as next Philippine President?

Defense Secretary Gilbert C. Teodoro Jr. continues to gain strength and getting political momentum needed for 2010 Philippine Presidential election.

Political observers predicted earlier that the 2010 Philippine Presidential election will be tough, and unpredictable. In 2007, I started to look around for potential successor of President Gloria Arroyo. In the last two quarters of 2008, presidential bets are floating their name.

Sen. Manual Roxas had the most obvious plan to be the next man in Malacanang. Sen. Manny Villar had not been vocal but his actions already confirm intention. Then the name of Sen. Richard Gordon, Mayor Jejomar Binay, MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando, Panfilo Lacson, then the self-proclaimed threat – former President Joseph Estrada. In December 2008, the names of  Sen. Chiz Escudero and Sen. Loren Legarda temporarily became a force.

When Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro announced his interest to run as president in 2010, I have no doubts that he indeed is a strong contender for the position.

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Politics of Mar and Korina’s love affair

I’m beginning to entertain suspicion that the Mar and Korina’s well-publicized romance is a political strategy motivated by personal ambitions of both.

It is not wrong to dream Malacanang. Mar has not sinned for selling and driving anything he could just to dine with fellow political dreamers in Malacanang for six years (Assuming that the 1987 Philippine Constitution is not changed or amended).

Korina has not sinned for being ‘so’ ready to get her lion’s share of power in Malacanang.

I never care whether Korina loves Mar or Mar loves Korina or both loves each other. It’s senseless to talk about it. It’s their personal life. But when both use their romance to advance political ambitions, I begin to suspect that everything is scripted. It seems I am seeing a PR manager at play.

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