inquirer’s himala moment

13 May 2015

… after “killing” Mary Jane Veloso in its headline and story of April 29, and its less than perfect “apology” of the 30th, the Inquirer followed up the fiasco with “A miracle happened” on the front page of its April 30 issue. In the same issue, another story quoted the Indonesian Attorney General as declaring that Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve was “due to P-Noy plea.” Not satisfied with that, the fourth line of the same headline opined that “credit grabbing (was) in full swing,” in another swipe at those groups and individuals most media organizations habitually refer to as “militants.”

that’s from the may 11 post of melinda quintos de jesus’s center for media freedom and responsibility (CMFR), Reporting the Veloso Case: Biased, sensationalized, tasteless.

earlier, in social media, UP masscom deans, present and past (roland tolentino, nicanor tiongson, luis teodoro, georgina encanto), had released “Fact or Fiction? UP deans on Inquirer’s Mary Jane Veloso coverage,” also questioning the broadsheet’s competence and integrity, and its obvious bias against the left, including migrante and the lawyers org.

… on the front page of the April 30 issue, the PDI followed up that initial error of April 29 with an article entitled “A miracle happened,” as if human intervention had no role in keeping Veloso alive. Moreover, in the same issue, another story quotes the Indonesian Attorney General as declaring that Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve was “due to P-Noy plea,” a diplomatic statement obviously made for the sake of courtesy and to preserve Indonesia’s good relations with the Philippines.

i would have let it all pass me by except that john nery, inquirer columnist and editor-in-chief of the broadsheet’s online operation, responded to the UP deans yesterday, may 12, basically calling out them out on their anti-administration bias.  which is par for the course.  naturally nery would rise to the challenge, defend the paper that has been home to him for the last 15 years even if only in a personal capacity, even if only to pit pro-admin opinion against anti-admin.

but nery astounds when he insists that “A miracle happened” and even cites mary jane’s mother celia as primary source sort-of.

… the four deans overreach, and betray their religious illiteracy. They seem to think that miracles happen in a vacuum, rather than precisely through human action. Of course humans intervened, starting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision to grant a temporary reprieve. That does not make the reprieve at the literal last minute any less miraculous in the eyes of many Filipinos. The deans’ criticism of the use of the word “miracle” is what is called cavilling, and (as I hope to show) cavilling of the partisan kind.

wait.   when i hear talk of miracles i think of the dead raised, water turned into wine, fish and loaves multiplied, all in a magical wave-of-a-wand kind of sequence.  are we talking the same religion here?

… The word “miracle” resonated with the public because that’s exactly how the last-minute reprieve appeared to many Filipinos: as an extraordinary fact, not easily explainable by the circumstances. Was there interpretation involved in the choice of the headline? Of course. Journalists are supposed not only to report what they see, but to interpret it—in part by offering the necessary context. I submit that “A miracle happened” offers exactly the right kind of context; in fact, Mary Jane’s own mother Celia is quoted in that story as saying, “Miracles do happen.”

well, that’s a little too convoluted for me.  but yes, i suppose, like EDSA 1986, a miracle!   but a “miracle” only in the sense of unexpected and wonderful, certainly not in the sense of unexplainable or unfathomable.  as with EDSA, and with elsa, walang himala.  it is obvious that there is a rational explanation for widodo’s change of mind, and media’s job is to work at ferreting that out instead of going for the easy way out.  a miracle, my foot.

there is no distracting from the original sin: that damning headline.  unlike many many others here at home and around the world who didn’t stop hoping for a last-minute stay of execution, inquirer had given up on mary jane by press time.  i wonder what they hoped for, whom they prayed for, in those pre-dawn hours.

Posted in media, NGOs, OFWs

6 Responses to inquirer’s himala moment

  1. May 13, 2015 at 11:55 pm
    GabbyD

    the phrase “as if human intervention had no role in keeping Veloso alive.” doesnt appear in the CMFR post.

    they edited it? without saying they edited it?

    this is an admission that they were wrong to interpret miracle the way they did.

    • May 14, 2015 at 12:05 am

      sorry, that block containing “as if human intervention had no role in keeping Veloso alive” is from the UP masscom deans’ piece. google it for the link :)

      • May 14, 2015 at 12:39 am
        GabbyD

        ah, i stand corrected. salamat!

  2. May 14, 2015 at 12:10 am
    GabbyD

    “there is no distracting from the original sin: that damning headline. ”

    inquirer has apologized. what more do we want. even what cmfr wants is unclear. What can inquirer say to sate your desires?

    • May 14, 2015 at 12:22 am

      nothing really, except do a palpably better job, with some rigor naman. otherwise parang social media na lang sila…

  3. May 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm
    Batang Genyo-Ala-eh

    That’s wrong with our social media the pre-emptive right to speculate to create wider readership at the expense of social order.

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