To emphasize the need to defend press freedom, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Associate Professor of Journalism Mr. Danilo Arao declared during a media rights forum that there should be no government intervention in the media.
“Criticism is okay for as long as it is what we call constructive criticism. But if it is destructive criticism, the kind that would compromise press freedom, then, of course, it is not acceptable,” he said.
The professor also stressed the importance of self-regulation in the media as press freedom is not absolute.
“There are so many media organizations that don’t really practice journalism in terms of the highest normative standards,” he shared.
Despite there being cases of irresponsible reporting, Arao expressed that the general public should be the ones to primarily call out journalists and not the authorities to avoid manipulation in the media.
“It’s so easy for us to say that it is time for the government to intervene so that all those irresponsible journalists will be sent to jail. That may sound good, but the main point is that self-regulation should be allowed to work properly so that we will be the ones to call out media,” he explained.
According to Arao, self-regulation works by having citizens call out constant law violators and making irresponsible media lose credibility without government intervention.
To give more insight on the issue, seasoned journalist Fidelina Margarita Valle cited the struggles of media who continued to fight for press freedom during the Marcos era.
“In the past, student journalists were called the mosquito press,” she shared.
Angelica Salazar, a student from Davao City National High School, also agreed that journalists should be free from threats and manipulation from authorities.
“It’s not their (government) job to intervene in the first place,” she said.
The forum entitled DEFEND JOURNALISM: A Press Rights Forum was organized by Davao Today in partnership with Ateneo de Davao University’s Mass Communication Department. The event was held in the afternoon at the university’s Finster Auditorium.