Open Letter to Inquirer and Other Big Media: On Irresponsible Journalism, Terrorism and Why We Can No Longer Trust You

September 27, 2016

The other day, while scrolling my Facebook news feeds, a headline from the Inquirer.Net caught my eye.  I was quite shocked to read it and told myself, the Presidential Spokesperson cannot be saying this!  The headline read:

Palace to Du30 Trolls: Behave

 

palace-to-du30

I clicked to read the article written by a certain Leila Salaverria to verify if this was true indeed: that Andanar called Duterte supporters TROLLS. Did Andanar really use the word “trolls” in his statement to the media?  If Andanar did say so, then go ahead, Media, say it! Put that in your news article for the record.    But this journalist did not! She instead put it in her headline!

I could not believe my eyes when in the same article, the writer repeated it:

Andanar addressed the same appeal to Duterte trolls who have been harassing journalists on social media.” 

I have time and again observed how Inquirer and other Big Media establishments have used their power as the Fourth Estate to distort and mislead. But this was just too glaring to let it pass.   So there was no stopping my ire and I quickly wrote this comment below Inquirer’s FB post:

Hello Inquirer.net please! You are MANIPULATiNG and TWISTING your news “information”. This is not the first time I’ve observed the way you have presented your “facts”. Look at so many of your headlines. BIASED!!! I also worked with big media outfits. But one doesn’t need to work in that industry to realize that there are so many bad eggs camouflaging as “journalists “. Yet you expect us to respect the brand of reporting you do? You can no longer fool thinking pinoys. So do your job properly.

 

And as if this writer did not have an overseeing editorial manager who reviews work done, this same “trolling” report was apparently rehashed the following day by another Inquirer writer Jacqueline Arias  with this headline:

Duterte Trolls Were Told to Stop Texting Threats to Sen. De Lima

du30-trolls

 

I quickly learned that  the headline was caught on quickly by Indonesia News  and then also  regurgitated by another  low-life journalism by Abante

abante-header

abante-2

 

Just today, I read this Inquirer article by Agence France Presse:

Duterte says he wants Death Penalty for Revenge

And then quickly scrolling down below, I saw another mini-headline sandwiched in the article:

READ: Duterte wants death for drug addicts

Still I kept on reading.  Inquirer sneaks in another mini-headline inside the article:

READ: Killers’ bike was marked ‘Duterte’

When I read these headlines, of course, guess what, the images that came to mind were those of death and killings by a vindictive President Duterte taking pleasure in carrying out his personal bloody vendetta without regard for any moral thought about it.

So I went ahead to read the article to find out why Duterte would say “revenge”.

True to form of low-life, again, Inquirer could nowhere for sure acknowledge that Duterte said it was for “revenge”.  Instead,  what Duterte used was the word “retribution”.  Inquirer quotes Duterte:

 “These human rights (groups), congressmen, how stupid you are,” Duterte said, as he highlighted their criticism of his plans to impose late-night curfews on children being out on the streets and to reintroduce the death penalty. “I believe in retribution. Why? You should pay. When you kill someone, rape, you should die,” he said.

This was the last straw.

Why would Inquirer use REVENGE in their headline when Duterte was referring to RETRIBUTION?

Hello, Inquirer! RETRIBUTION IS NOT THE SAME AS REVENGE!

There is a whole world of difference between REVENGE and RETRIBUTION!!

Pwede ba, Inquirer, can you do your job well???

Or maybe we should get a dictionary here?

RETRIBUTION is a form of punishing wrongdoers for crimes committed so that JUSTICE is served to the victim in proportion to the gravity of the crime.  Retribution is empowered by the state and authorized by law to stop wrongdoers from doing criminal behavior for the good of the public. Retribution is imposed by law.  It is not personal but is instead impartial and rationale.

REVENGE, on the other hand, is fueled by an emotional desire to see the suffering of the wrongdoer with the aim of RETALIATION.  It is personal vindictiveness. Go to Webster or Wikipedia and you will find that REVENGE is: (1) retaliation in order to get even; (2) getting personal satisfaction from seeing the wrongdoer suffer persistently ; (3) a harmful  action against a person or group whether real or perceived, used to right a wrong by going outside of the law.

So, Inquirer, RETRIBUTION is in the context of JUSTICE while REVENGE is in the context of RETALIATION.  Maybe your editors and writers need some psychological check-up?  Read this  article by Psychology Today.

I am not a graduate of Journalism or Mass Communications but we don’t have to be journalists to understand that headlines carry the most crucial message about the news AND wield the most impact on readers.  Kailangan pa ba namin sabihin yan?  Isn’t that taught in your basic Journalism 101 back in school?  Thus, it is either you do not know what you are doing as a journalist or you are a nest of bad eggs masquerading as professional journalists.

To say that I was aghast to realize how Inquirer has gone so low in the quality of your journalism is an understatement.  This was not the first time that I have observed Inquirer degenerate into a low-life news site.  This definitely was not the first time I have read slanted and biased news reporting.

Look at your careless headlines just recently:

Duterte okayed Mary Jane’s execution, says Indonesian president

and

Jokowi: Duterte gives go-ahead to Mary Jane’s execution

These stupid headlines went wildly viral all over the broadsheets and in social media.  When my spouse broke these to me one early morning, I automatically said, “No way! That can’t be true.  Who is Duterte to dictate the Indonesian President on what to do??”

We all know now that Duterte did NOT give the go-ahead to Mary Jane Veloso’s execution and neither did the Indonesian president say it!

Okay, Inquirer and other media tried to take this back and make a clarification afterward. But only after the damage was done, the lies had been spread, the masses’ minds have been manipulated, and after the Filipino people have become very angry with Duterte, the family of Veloso have been dismayed out of their wits.

Quoting another news report without verifying??!

The Filipino people should cry “FOUL!” at such irresponsible spreading of misinformation, such LIES! Yes, it is all unfair, inhuman and illogical combined!  It is also biased, sensationalized and tasteless.  We do not call them errors, blunders or snafus.  We call it low-life journalism to the nth degree.

If you may remember back in 2015, Inquirer had pronounced Mary Jane Veloso as dead with the headline:

 “Death came before Dawn”

reporting that Only a miracle could have saved her” as “twelve sharpshooters were assigned to each of the nine convicts, all aiming at his and her heart at the distance of five to 10 meters.”

veloso

http://manila.coconuts.co/2015/04/29/look-headlines-three-leading-newspapers

But for your information, ladies and gentlemen, Mary Jane is alive.

Metro Manila traffic just a ‘state of mind’

Not too long ago, Secretary of Transportation Art Tugade became a victim of this low-life journalism.

Why shouldn’t that headline draw angry outbursts from the Filipino people? And that kind of statement coming from the current Secretary of Transportation who should be the very person responsible for fixing the humongous traffic crisis?  Sino hindi magagalit nyan?  The writer even described Tugade with “the official scoffed”.

But just come to think of it: wouldn’t it be illogical for Tugade to say that there is really no traffic crisis but it is merely a “state of mind” when he has been pleading for authority “emergency powers” to address the traffic problem?

Tugade had to correct that erroneous reporting:  DOTR Sec Tugade Slams Inquirer for ‘Metro Manila Traffic Just a State of Mind’ Misleading Headline

 “Liliwanagin ko, noon pa man sinasabi ko na ‘nababoy’ na ng trapiko ang buhay ng Pilipino. Bakit ko naman sasabihing state of the mind ‘yun? Hindi naman ako bobo,” he told ABS-CBN. [To make it clear, I’ve long been saying that traffic has ruined the lives of Filipinos. Why would I say it is just a state of mind? I am not stupid.] 

But then again the damage has been done, the public has been misled to believe it, the Filipino masses’ anger again towards this present Administration and its efforts has been stirred.

tugade

Again, look at these crazy headlines:

Duterte, Palace defend shoot-to-kill order

and

Duterte to order ‘shoot-to-kill’ for criminals, reinstate death penalty

Did Duterte not say this within the context of the performance of duty by police and soldiers, and in the event of armed resistance?  Did he not make this as clear as night and day even long before he assumed office?

So how come you Big Media have been yak-yakking and regurgitating these MANUFACTURED TALES until now?  And how come we don’t see a sincere effort from you to take responsibility for clearing the air especially among foreign media, for poisoning, brainwashing the unthinking minds of the Filipino public?

What if we replaced these headlines with these, wouldn’t they have been closer to what actually has been said?

DUTERTE, PALACE EXPLAIN SHOOT-TO-KILL ORDER

Or

DUTERTE’S SHOOT-TO-KILL ORDER FOR CRIMINALS RESISTING ARREST

On this issue, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility has cited:  Fact-Checking Duterte’s ‘Shoot-to-Kill’ Order

Watch it here straight from the horse’s mouth (1:07).

“If you resist arrest, tapos you offer a violent resistance, my order to the police and to the military is to shoot to kill. Narinig ninyo? (Do you hear me?) Buti ang klaro ba. (Better to be clear.) Shoot to kill for every organized crime,” the then presumptive president said. 

So narinig ninyo?  Narinig nyo ba ‘yon?  NARINIG BA NINYO????

Isn’t it that what Duterte has been saying is just PLAIN COMMON SENSE?  If I were a policeman carrying out my duty and have to make an arrest, and this guy resists and pulls out a gun at me, do I not protect myself and pull out my gun as well?  Do you expect me to leave my weapon in its holster and play hide and seek with this moving target hoping he or she won’t see me??

I hope you see the ludicrousness of this twisted thinking of so-called “human rights activists” whose lines you have been playing over and over again.

But then again, of course, the damage has been done and irreparably so.

And sad to say, many Filipinos, including the highly educated are swallowing it hook, line and sinker! They have swallowed this only to realize their mouths are frothing with anger and hate against the newly installed government while screaming senselessly “This is Murder!” “This is Human Rights Violation!” Even to the extent that they consider it okay to get the UN and the EU  involved in our country’s domestic affairs.

FAKE COVER

In 2013, you were so quick to publish on your front page this cover supposedly by TIME Magazine with the caption: “President Aquino on TIME Magazine cover: I’m just the face of the whole country”.   Later, your realized that it was in fact a fake Time Magazine cover, after netizens had caught on this and brought it to your attention.  But a one millisecond look at this photo of then president Noynoy should have already sent at least one neuron to fire “It can’t be!”

fake-time-cover

Talk about losing credibility, accuracy, social responsibility and the people’s trust.

An apology was made saying it was an “honest mistake”.  But then are netizens not fed up yet?

BASTION?

After the Edsa Revolution, I had considered Philippine Daily Inquirer to be a bastion for press freedom  where it played a poignant role in supporting the fledgling democracy under Cory Aquino.

But I must admit you have terribly gone downhill over the years, your slant favoring the interests of the oligarchs that own you and preserving the socio-political status quo, that is, until Duterte turned it upside down.

Isn’t it about time that Filipinos need to make you Big Media accountable for your behavior other than accept apology after apology after apology?

Remember the controversial case of then SC Justice Corona who was evidently very much disliked by the previous Administration  and who was later on impeached? Sometime in March 2012, Inquirer posted on its front page a montage of photos  of Demetrio Vicente who was a defense witness in the impeachment trial.  A cousin of Corona, Vicente was a victim of stroke.

The caption read:

 “CHARACTER” WITNESS: The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand. He’s no ordinary witness after all. He’s the cousin of the Chief Justice whose wife sold him seven parcels of land in 1990, where he now grows bonsai.”

impeachment-defense-witness-demetriou-vicente-cant-keep-his-story-straight

Obviously, the post came across as a disgusting attempt to disparage Vicente as a person and degrade his role as defense witness in the Corona impeachment. Again, as per usual fare, Inquirer later said sorry.

demetrio-vicente

TERRORISM

This is getting to be a long letter now but I hope by this time you should realize I write this out of a mix of indignation and dismay. Indignation over the fact that we can no longer rely on you as the Fourth Estate to speak on behalf of truth.  Dismay because we can no longer look to you as the people’s watchdog, that we can no longer trust you to be independent and objective.

I still would like to believe that there are a few  journalists who remain true to their code of ethics. However, I understand the reality that most big media establishments can never be truly independent with corporate interests as well as the political strings attached to these  interests at work.

In light of these, I and I am sure so many other Filipinos as well who love our dear country and who want our new government to succeed, would like to appeal to you and remind you again to dispense of your Power with Responsibility.  You already know exactly how much Power Big Media have over the Filipino masses and the grave Responsibility that comes with it and I don’t have to belabor the point.

It was the Pope who said that IRRESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM is a form of TERRORISM.  In more than one sense, it is quite true.  Our newly installed government is already being bombarded by forces out to destroy our country.  I hope this brand of Terrorism will cease to be one of them.

Thank you for your time.

 

About Liz Fernando

Just a regular Filipino residing in Canada and hoping for true change in the Motherland
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