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Not the Apple of their eyes PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 October 2017 15:04

BEHIND  THE  LINES

When they feel that government is interfering in their daily routine and clamping down on them like the Greeks invading Troy over a woman, they will fight like angry wolves every inch of the way.

Every morning, Monday to Sunday, they would go out and cover their beats like policemen doing their daily rounds with the kind of knowledge and training they had received: by interviewing people, ordinary and high-profile ones, about factors that affect their lives, about housing the displaced individuals impacted by floods, war and conflagration, about their leaders, about politics, about religion and about development, economics and health.

Some imperious officials would deny them an interview maybe because she/he is rushing to make an appointment with a big shot, or maybe she/he didn’t like the face of the reporters of the newspaper, radio or television network they work for.

Some of them would return to their booth, swing the microphone nearest their mouths and start lambasting the arrogant official that turned them away. Listening to the daily bombardment on radio and television and reading the newspapers, eventually the official got annoyed and angry at the reporters. The artillery of the press was too much to bear. She has become a political target. In this exceptional case, she is Alcalde Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar. She has wielded her wicked wand against the media less than two years before the next local election, much to the resentment of the silent City Hall majority, including those with internal conflicts. But this isn’t her wish. Her designated “point woman” convinced her to go after the critical media. She is the alter-ego of the alcalde. She isn’t the apple of the eyes of the media.

Spiro Agnew pleaded no contest on corruption charges and capped it by resigning as U.S. Vice President at the height of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon.

On nationwide television (not E-Media), Agnew discussed the importance of television news medium. “No nation depends more on the intelligent judgement of its citizens. No medium has a more profound influence over public opinion. Nowhere in our system are there fewer checks on vast powers. So, nowhere should there be more conscientious responsibility exercised than by the news media,” he said.

This is what’s happening to City Hall and the media: the mayor has at least three veteran writers in her payroll. They were former hacks of the former City Hall occupant and their loyalty is under scrutiny. Mr. Celso L. Lobregat has his ghost alter-ego, Dexter Yap. Mr. Mannix Dalipe has the entire TV-11 at his beck and call. The troika want news releases and radio/television coverages that make them only look beautiful and handsome to their constituents — Muslims, Pagans, and Christians, alike. They hate publications/commentaries injurious to their image. They frown at nasty publications and critical exclamations on radio and television. But it is the nasty publications and critical utterances that make a free press and guarantee that totalitarianism won’t exist.

With the “invasion” of press freedom by City Hall,  like the Taliban on helpless Muslim women, all, not just E-Media that’s trying to make a decent living, media outlets live under the threat of being closed by the “Little Mayor” who has been peeved by the attacks on her office. The work of reporters to write or comment freely, for as long as they don’t malign the object of their target, is in danger of being dastardly crushed by the rich and influential autocrats at City Hall.

A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times, thus, wrote: “We annoy the hell out of people. And we have our faults, by God, we have our faults. There are scores of publications I wouldn’t read, let alone work for. And there are a few for which I have loathing and contempt. But there is a difference between resenting the press or even loathing it and trying to control it.” Harassing the media is not the way to control it. It only creates more trouble.

The First Amendment of the American constitution, for example, was crafted not to protect the media from the admiration of government but from the loathing of government, all the institutions of government.

Mrs. Climaco-Salazar could have simply advocated an add instead of starting a media war, something that she can’t win: “Ano’ng problema mo? Mag-usap tayo.” Now, the mayor is in deep trouble with the media. Dexter yap will definitely capitalize on her misfortune.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 October 2017 15:05
 
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