Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Against pro-RH bias in the media

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:35:00 11/29/2010

IN THE Reproductive Health (RH) bill debate, the Inquirer has trampled on hallowed journalism principles such as fairness and truthfulness.

While it is the Inquirer’s prerogative to favor the RH bill or not (it expressed support for the bill in at least one editorial), I believe that whatever its bias should not taint its reportage on the issue. It should bear in mind the first point of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics: “I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis.”

In dizzying near-consistency, the Inquirer in fact violated this first principle by depriving the public of adequate and well-explained information about the pro-life stand in the RH bill controversy. Contrast this fact with the newspaper’s abundant articles elaborating the pro-choice stance, while putting in good light pro-choice advocates and making villains out of pro-life crusaders. (For samples of biased Inquirer materials, visit

In the interest of ethical journalism, I therefore plead with the Inquirer to dare to inquire with rigor and to present news as objectively as possible. I say “as possible,” because absolute objectivity in journalism is never possible. The Inquirer (and other media outfits) can, however, very well aim to at least keep on leash their biases behind (1) well-contextualized quotes from credible sources, (2) the equal presentation of both sides of an issue and (3) by clarifying data given them by sources, thereby avoiding misinterpretation and miscommunication (as happened in the news on the supposed threat to excommunicate President Aquino and the alleged acceptance by the Pope of condom use in the fight against AIDS). The Inquirer would also do well by being critical in the midst of the greedy and anti-life mindset being propagated by powerful Western secularists and ultra-liberalists.

Having been inspired by the Inquirer to take up journalism in college, I am hoping that the Inquirer, once the best newspaper in the country, would reclaim its original dignity and fulfill its vocation to serve truth, freedom and justice.

17 Maginhawa St., UP Village,
Diliman, Quezon City

1 comment:

  1. Media in state of denial

    Experience has taught me that there are some (or a lot of) people who are beyond explaining to. They are people who form a formidable fortification of denial in themselves; it's of no use talking to them because they have long tuned out. The first step in helping them crack through their thick wall is to leave them alone.

    Denial and defenses have a complex dynamics (which I have tried in my blog to explain again and again (primarily to myself)). I believe that when it comes to the private sphere, we have no obligation to crack a person's state of denial, if that is meant to protect oneself in the short term and no one else is harmed.

    But for media, a public trust and the fourth state, to do the denying -- that's a different story. I admit I am very easily irked when confronted with this reality, the reality of media's own blinders and double standards, as we have glimpsed in various topics, including their coverage of papal declarations and the Philippine legislature's proposed Reproductive Health bill, to name just two of the most divisive.

    Maybe I placed media too high on a pedestal, as society's conscience, as a projection of my own conscience. Maybe I expected too much, failing to consider the fact that media is composed of human beings just like me, as much prone to folly, foibles, and failure. Maybe I trusted the truth to them too much.

    But since, apart from media, there's almost nothing else left as a neutral source of credible-enough information, we would be remiss not to call mediapersons out when they are remiss in their duty.

    Since truth is sacred, or at least the approximation of truth -- sacred both in secular and religious senses, the quest of correcting media's mistakes is a sacred act. But since, I imagine, media will listen to no one else other than their own, it would be most effective for the criticism to come from the inside. And it would be less hurtful if someone from among their ranks realize his or her mistake and report on it in media.

    Until then, it is perhaps best to leave media alone. Nothing stuns like bumping one's head on a wall someone built oneself.

    Resty S. Odon