TAKING SIDES

FIRST PRINTED IN THE VOICE OF SIERRA MADRE

“Kay Gambito ito? Kay Gambito ito? Kay Gambito ito?”
There is an old belief that for a wish to come true, you have to repeat it three times. It is just quite unfortunate for Governor Ruth Padilla of the province of Nueva Vizcaya that reality isn’t exactly a Disney movie where a fairy godmother or a genie would suddenly appear from nowhere to make her “wish” come true no matter how many times she repeats those words and point at the copy of the newspaper in front of her.
It was a rhetorical question. The bottom line was, she was asking for a confirmation that the newspaper is indeed owned and controlled by one of her political rivals. It was just unfortunate for her that no matter how many times she asks the question, the answer will be the same: NO.
In all due fairness with the controversial governor, the newspaper does have quite a colorful history with her. The publication had been one of the first few in the region to write about the “irregularities” that had been pestering her and her husband’s administration since they started.
The newspaper itself may not be “anti-Padilla” as she wanted to believe but the reports that had been written about the “misdeeds” of her administration may be taken that way. After all, the mentality is that if a publication or network is reporting any negative news about a certain individual, office, or group, then they are the enemy.
News reports, written or aired, are no longer being measured by its truthfulness but that of whom the report is supporting or going against with. One is either a supporter or a detractor, either pro or anti, nothing in between.
This type of thinking is limited to the governor or that of public officials and politicians for that matter. Even private businesses, establishments, groups, and individuals seem to have that same belief.
It’s either you are with them or against them, and unfortunately for media practitioners, the answer would decide if one is getting the information he needs for the news story or not. If the answer is deemed acceptable, meaning in support of the interviewee, then the media practitioner is welcomed with open arms. Otherwise, he can expect the door shut on his face even before he can ask his first question.
The idea is, if you give a positive report about an individual, group, or office, then they would see you as an ally. Print or broadcast anything that is negative about the same individual, group or office and one just turned himself into one of the enemies.
What these people and groups doesn’t seem to understand or do not want to comprehend is the fact that as a media practitioner, one cannot take sides. The media’s job is to air the news, to inform the public of what they need to know, not to be the extension of someone’s public relations team. Unbelievable as it sounds, that’s just how it is and that how it should remain.
The media industry, or at least some of its practitioners, does have a share of the blame with the current stigma. It is quite known that there are practitioners who would sell their air time or print space to be someone’s lap dog instead of being the watchdog that they were supposed to be.
But just like the fact that not all politicians are corrupt and not all non-government organizations are part of the pork barrel scam, not every journalist is for sale. There are still some media practitioners who actually stand for the ideals of what the profession is really about, people who can easily wear a shirt that says, “You can’t buy me!” and wouldn’t be struck by lightning.
If that isn’t enough, then the solution is simple; they need to do their jobs according to the law of the land, without taking advantage of its loopholes and the people involved.
There is nothing to uncover when there is nothing to hide. If they can do that, then there is no reason to ask for anyone to take sides. #

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