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» » » » » » » » On Fake News, Pinoy Spin Journalism and Mocha Uson Blog


JR Lopez Gonzales 6:42 PM 0

We are constantly flooded with news now more than ever. And unless you live under a rock, it would take you a jiffy to peek at your newsfeed and you'll see a stream of various memes, links, and infographics.

The information superhighways are all sprinkled with a hodge-podge of news and political statuses; which of course, is not totally a bad thing. And with this torrent of information in the social media, there's not enough time to digest and evaluate these pieces of "news".
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Our typical journalism class will tell us that media delivers the message, which in turn, impacts on how the rest of the people see the world. Together with the visuals, help the masses form their own opinion. It's the all too-important media; widely considered as the fourth estate of any government next to the judiciary, legislative, and the executive.

The beloved Philippine Islands has one of the freest press in the world; no doubt about that. And like any other country, its media has its own spin doctors  that aim to twist public perception. This is actually the case for most governments. However, for this new administration though, it seems that most of the things we read and see in the news are not siding with the admin - which is not a bad thing in itself.
  
However, being too aggressive by aiming towards the septegenarian's jugular is not healthy, either. It may sound tad negative but the mainstream media (MSM) should be a bit more fairly. A juxtaposition of headlines from all the major news networks would reveal how these news outfits present the news.

A brief disclaimer here first: I have the highest regard to the journalistic profession. I am a dotcom writer and contributor to mainstream news websites here. I have no axe to grind, I'm just simply presenting my views on how I think the news is being treated these days, which, in all honesty, saddens me. Most of us cannot differentiate what is real from not; the truth from the lie.
 
Apparently, media can both be sanctimonious and prurient. And while it is a given that one of its main job is to challenge government - it also has the moral duty of presenting not just the bad but also, the good news.

This current admin's honeymoon period has just been concluded and it is marred with controversy - and a lot of significant achievements, too. Far from perfect but as to the aspect of governance, it's pretty decent. This includes the 911 emergency response, the recently-signed 8888 corruption hotline, the OFW's one-stop shop for requirements, the Freedom of Information Bill, and more; which does not even get the media mileage it deserves.

Good news like these have to be told to the public but instead, we are bombarded with news which focus on the president's cursing, the alleged drug deaths and the likes. I'm not saying that the human rights issue should be swept under the rug, but unless it is proven in court that these are state-sponsored killings why are we so quick to conclude that this non-oligarchic president is at the helm? What is worse is when our journos here give these so-called facts to the international press without keeping in mind the basics of gatekeeping.

Pinoy journos and locals alike, have the duty to share to foreigners the nuances of our culture and language. But then again, since some newspeople like sound bites and click baits - those that titillates the senses - are what these foreign media pick. Case in point: the "son of a whore" issue towards Obama. If you're a true-blue Pinoy, you'll be able to distinguish PI as an expletive and not as a personal attack. The locals should do a better job of letting foreign understand context and put things into the right perspective.

I frequently talk to foreigners and one drawback of our Chief Executive's international coverage is that they now have a distorted sense of view on our country. They even thought that the government is pulling off a "genocide" of some sort. Just because that is what is seemingly and singly reported from our islands. Wasn't even surprised that France's Liberation insultingly calls President Duterte, "The Serial Killer President". Luring people to their dailies is but one of the frailties of corporate mass media driven by profit. Saddening but true.

Another thing that makes information dissemination more interesting in the Philippines is the proliferation of fake news. You'll be surprised on how abundant like mushrooms these fake "news" sites are. Chances are, you have seen a Facebook friend share one to your newsfeed. And I honestly find this hilarious.

Yet, people fall for these click-happy antics by politically-motivated netizens. Whether it's a twist on words; invented news stories; or made-up headlines - a lot of our less-researched friends fall prey. And since the masses don't have the luxury to verify these links, they hence take this, at face value.

Unprecented: A French newspaper calls a Chief Executive, "serial killer".
Clearly, blame is not, and should not only be put on the people who bring the news; people's gullibility is also another culprit. In a recent interview by graduating FEU Communications majors to me last week in Manila, I mentioned to them that a responsible reader's job is to take a magnifying lens and compare the headlines in order to have a clearer picture of an issue. It is the reader's job to put the pieces together.

Now, let's talk about the "vilified" Mocha Uson Blog. A dancer from the girl group, Mocha Girls, Margaux Uson set her sex advice aside and paved the way for her open support to the then-Mayor Duterte since the start of this year. What made her blog intriguing is that her Facebook engagements rake in huge numbers even larger than that of Rappler or Inquirer combined. Because of this, most from the "intelligentsia" take a swipe at her. An Ateneo de Manila lampoon magazine ridiculed her with the publication, "Mochang Tanga Blog"; a Change.org petition was created to suspend her blog.
 
From the viewpoint of a blogger; her tiny space in the cyberspace is a clear manifestation that people are looking for other avenues for information aside from MSM. While I don't agree with some of her posts; as well as from the unverified links that she shares; she must not be singled out and be restraint on her freedom to express herself. She even often reminds everyone on her articles and videos that she is not a journalist. I give her props for not hiding behind anonymity and on her frankness. I'd be more supportive of her though, if she shares trustworthy sources in her posts; well, that's just me.
 

Our current state of info dissemination in the social media is sure rife with problems. Now we become a melting pot of propaganda from left and right; we became more divisive than ever. Truth is the anti-thesis of lies. Our information highways could be the very same roads we use to correct others. In this country, it will be our duty to raise critical thinking; no matter how impossible it may seem for now.

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