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August 1st, 2016 · No Comments

The media plays a vital role in any democratic society.  Publishers, journalists, columnists, writers and broadcasters, photojournalists are the bearers of news and information. They exist to inform and at times to also entertain.  More importantly they are Truth-mongers!  While there are bad apples in every bunch, the serious journalists and writers know their stuff and take their responsibilities seriously.   And it takes more than just a rich vocabulary and good grammar to be one.

Duterte’s recent comments regarding “journalists deserve to die” have raised eyebrows on the international scene.  There is no doubt that some fall prey to chequebook journalism – twisting truth for fear or favour. Like any profession, some fall wayward. But this may be a public relations effort and may not in any way be connected with the news gathering industry.  Journalists who take their roles seriously ignore the dangers; risk their lives for a close up view of the news as it happens, and to dig up the relevant facts to enable them to give the public the complete picture.

In bringing the news, unfortunately the truth is not always palatable.  Like it or nor – it is what it is – the truth.  However, with the proliferation of the social media, everyone can now express an opinion. It’s an instant stage for the wannabees. Pictures can be manipulated to misinform and confuse the general public.  Unfortunately, not everyone is media savvy and is unable to discern fact from fiction. Neither can they tell the difference between a straight news story, a column or publicity.  Publicity and propaganda are worlds apart but most can’t tell. Everything is the same.   Some may have their own interpretation of the truth, and opinions may differ but the facts remain the same. Some are simply too lazy to think. The veracity of the news depends on the credibility and integrity of the source.

The media is loved, feared and hated – all in the same breath. In our very own community, community leaders and business people court the media relentlessly for the much-wanted free space to promote their products, events and let us not forget – themselves.  People love the media and some go to great lengths at even impersonating them. Equally are those who hate them especially when the truth is dished out and they’re right in the middle of it. Publicity hungry, they want to be – need to be in the pages of the papers. Someone published a story in January for a proposed event happening in November.  By mid-year, it was passé and inaccurate.  Maybe, that someone was too excited to see their name in print.  The gullible know no better and simply believe.

It’s okay when the article or story is all praises and puffed up with adjectives and superlatives to the hilt.  Unfortunately some are distorted and bear no semblance to the truth. However when faced with serious issues and confronted with questions, they scamper away.   I empathise with the publishers who have the agonizing task of balancing what is crap and what is news worthy of seeing print.

Dare to publish the truth and “ouch!” they say.  Some go into panic mode and hysteria. Some have the audacity to threaten defamation, and some are bullied for even talking to someone else. Silence is compelled. But here’s a basic thing to remember.  If threats are made, then they’ve got something to hide, unless it’s a surprise for a later date. Evasion and delaying tactics are also dead give-aways of guilt. Otherwise, why not sit down and have the much needed dialogue, decently and reasonably.

And when fundraisings and money matters are concerned, the plot thickens. According to somebody, “outsiders do not have the right to know what’s happening inside an organization.  Ooops…wrong, wrong, wrong! If the organization asked the community for donations, the organization has the responsibility to report the results to the community – completely, factually and accurately. No buts!  The community has every right to know.  If they are unable to do so, raise your eyebrows – raise your questions.  A good journalist/writer will find it and connect the dots.

However, if an organization is transparent and its sincere about their goals, then informing the community would be a cinch.  Then life would be simple.   Love or hate the media – the good news is – they’re here to stay.   And in case anyone has forgotten, it’s called freedom of the press.

Tags: Grey Matter