Prof. Danilo Arao, the associate professor of the Department of Journalism in University of the Philippines-Diliman, emphasized in a forum on press freedom yesterday that media literacy “requires a certain degree of constructive criticism” when reporting social issues.
“We have to look at it in terms of context. It’s not just because of mismanagement of transportation or the lack of urban planning and all of that.
“It is that Manila, particularly, has been so congested and the development of our country is being done in such a way where we focus more on urban areas that we failed to develop the rural areas as well,” Arao stressed while pertaining to the current issues about Aeta displacement and public transportation problems in Metro Manila.
“That’s the kind of criticism that we should be demanding from media and as audiences we should have that kind of expectation,” he added.
In the said press freedom forum, Arao presented on media literacy in which he also bared the fake news industry as a “billion-dollar” industry.
“Five years ago, I will tell you that those peddle lies misinformation and disinformation will make themselves irrelevant in the years to come and that no one will make money out of lies.
“That would be five years ago. But right now, if I were to tell you that, you would tell me straight to my face ‘Sir, mali po kayo’. Right? Because fake news has become an industry. Not just an industry—a billion-dollar industry,” he said.
Arao referred to a study that claims Trending News Portal can pay five-figure amounts, ranging from P30,000 to P50,000, for social media influencers per post.
In front of the student journalists from different universities in Davao City, Arao underscored the role of the media in delivering stories to the public.
“In a period of lies, misinformation and disinformation, in journalism we will be only with the truth and audiences are expected to be armed with the truth as well. News literacy is important because sometimes we have to think about what we read but we also be critical with what is presented in the media,” he pointed out.
Attacks on media
John Robert “Jairo” Bolledo, the senior producer of GMA News and Public Affairs’ online newscast ‘Stand for Truth,’ broke down the current attacks on some news agencies.
Bolledo covered the issues on legal cases filed by the government against the online news agency Rappler and the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“I am from GMA, pero hindi naming wini-wish na sana hindi na sila (ABS-CBN) ma-renew. Ang petty kasi nun. Kami sa GMA hindi man kami naglalabas ng all-out support, pero we believe na dapat i-renew ‘yung franchise nila,” he said.
Bolledo pointed out that the personal issue of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte with ABS-CBN should not affect the decision of the Congress with regard to the TV network’s franchise renewal to maintain the independence between the executive and legislative branches.
“The foundation of the government [is that] the executive, legislative, and judiciary [branches] should be independent from each other,” he argued, hinting that Duterte has a “direct and strong” influence over the decision-making of the Congress.
Bolledo also talked about the “deadly” threats of red-tagging journalists, saying that red-tagging endangers their lives by implying journalists, even ordinary individuals, are enemies of the state.
“Pero nakakalungkot dahil ‘yung mga journalist na nagtatrabaho para iinform ‘yung mga tao sa kasuluk-sulokan ng ating bansa ay itp pa ‘yung prone sa red-tagging,” he said.
Margarita Valle, a local journalist, also shared her experience when she was held incommunicado for 12 hours six months ago. She was chasing a story about rural missionaries in Pagadian City.
“While we recognize that many among us workers in the mass media in Mindanao are doing our jobs and getting red-tagged, harassed, and some getting killed, mainly because we are simply doing our job. And that is telling the stories that need to be told,” she told.
“When people are being fed lies, half-truths, and worst, fake news, nothing comes out of it but catastrophe,” Valle added.
Jointly organized by Atenews and Davao Today, the forum titled “Unmuting: The State of Press Freedom” was held at Finster Auditorium on Dec. 11, 2019.
Student journalists from Ateneo de Davao University, University of Immaculate Conception, and University of Southeastern Philippines-Obrero and Mintal campuses, professional journalists, academe, and human rights advocates attended the event.