Friday, April 29, 2005

Isn't this true?

From the University of the Philippines Dean Luis Teodoro, in his commencement address delivered during the UP College of Mass Communication commencement exercises, which was held last April 24. Taken from Jojo's Thirtysomething blog. For the complete address, just make clicky with the link above.

I find this portion of his speech very, very important.

Let me venture a suggestion why, despite the injustice, violence and misery the global and national orders breed there is less defiance than the reality demands. The media–the disciplines to which you have devoted four years or more of your lives to study and master–have failed to report, much less interpret, the world to its inhabitants.

The media could hardly have done otherwise. In the Philippines the media are firmly in the hands of interests whose political and business agendas are often contrary to the imperative of truth-telling. You have all heard it said that the broadcast media are driven by commercial interests, that it is what will rate rather than public significance that decides which stories will make it to the six o’clock news. The broadcast media are indeed redefining news to mean reports that assure higher ratings and advertising revenues.

As a consequence, broadcast news is turning into entertainment, and into orgies of voyeurism and bloodlust as it focuses more and more on celebrities in addition to the usual emphasis on blood and gore. Since 96 percent of Filipinos have access to television, and since as a consequence television is the most credible medium for some 72 percent of the population, much of the information Filipinos receive is either in the category of fluff stories on the state of this or that actor’s romantic life, the violence of life among the poor, or uncontextualized reports on the latest guerilla-Armed Forces encounter in Mindanao, which leave viewers with exactly the impression the state wants people to have: that rather than responses to poverty and injustice rebellions are their causes.

Reporting in print is only a little less driven by the same commercial aims. The one newspaper in which what appears on the front and opinion-editorial pages is subject to the owner’s approval every day seems to be an exception. And it may also be true that this newspaper’s difference from your favorite broadsheet is evident in their respective attitudes towards government. But it is equally true that they have one thing in common: neither questions the validity of the political, social and economic systems.

The defects of these systems are too obvious to be concealed through editorials celebrating Christmas and Valentine’s Day and the anniversaries of this or that association. These systems’ survival in fact depends on their capacity to reform themselves, which is the cause to which the second broadsheet is dedicated. But in practice, the consequence is a refusal, or inability, to look into the root causes of this country’s problems, and to see them merely as the results of mistaken policies and bureaucratic bungling.


Blogger Debbie said...

having worked for some time in the mainstream media, i can say that sadly, it is true -- media is driven by commercial or political interests. i guess that is the owners' way of surviving. and sad to say, a newspaper, TV station, or radio station is first a business, and then a public service. because without the business part, they won't be able to print the paper or get facilities for their station. and a sure way to earn money is to cater to the audience's interests. what the audience likes to read, they buy. what the audience should read, they're not interested to read.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous bayi said...

survival is of course the key reason for what the media owners do. when one invests such a large sum of money into a business venture, he expects to see a reasonable return on his investment. hence, the importance of commercial and rating factors.

additionally, the investors often have other non-altruistic reasons, political ambitions being one. hence, the wilful political bias of the stories carried by the paper of the broadcasting station. this makes the investment more meaningful to the owner even if the monetary returns may not be as rewarding at times.

i have posted on the adjacent comment column earlier on this same post.

10:11 AM  

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