aug 23, vilifying media

I was in San Francisco when I watched this sorry episode. CNN had the story but their thrust was not so much that there was a hostage situation in Manila (incidents like these, unfortunately, frequently happen worldwide), but that “the whole incident was being broadcast live on television,” followed by a recital of CNN guidelines and how they have an editor in the newsroom who monitors and EDITS what they get. This person edited the ABS-CBN coverage and only showed the bus at a distance.

Media in this country has become recidivist when it comes to how they deliver the bad news. They almostmake it worse. Valdes was right: they are vilifying themselves.

read the whole essay by Ma. Isabel Ongpin


  1. MICHAEL ROGAS: Captain Rolando Mendoza, good evening, sir…
    CAPT. ROLANDO MENDOZA: Good evening, sir.

    MICHAEL: This is Michael Rogas from RMN. Sir, you are the hostage taker, is it right?
    MENDOZA: Right, sir.
    MICHAEL: What is your plan at this juncture, sir?

    x x x x x

    (The ever hopeful Mendoza reads aloud the Ombudsman’s letter upon the request of Rogas. Note that Mendoza is already in personal contact with Orlando Yebra, the chief negotiator.)

    MENDOZA: x x x x x…for me this is trash, this letter is trash! This is not what I need!

    MICHAEL: Ok, what’s your plan, sir? Now that your demand was not met…
    MENDOZA: For me this is trash, this is not what I need. What I need is their decision, reversing or not reversing (my dismissal). That’s it! Thank you for the effort of the mayor and the vice mayor, I don’t need that letter, sir.

    MICHAEL: What is your plan now, sir, what do you want?
    MENDOZA: There’s nothing in that (letter), nothing, none whatsoever, sir. It only says a review will be done. In effect, nothing will come of it, nothing, sir. That paper is nothing to me, if it said (I am) dismissed already, nothing will happen as a result (of that letter), sir.

    MICHAEL: Captain, what’s your plan now, sir?

    MENDOZA (addressing Yebra): This one, I’ll make an example of this one, step aside, go away…I don’t need that (letter), sir, that letter has nothing to say…you, you’re a lawyer…there’s nothing in that (letter)!

    MICHAEL: Captain, wait, please calm down.
    MICHAEL: Captain, take it easy, sir…What’s your plan now, sir, inasmuch as your demand was not granted, we will call the Ombudsman at this point in time.
    MENDOZA: Most likely something bad will happen inside this bus.

    MICHAEL: Wait, through us, RMN (live radio broadcast), what is your request (from the authorities)?

    x x x x x


    Clearly, the negotiator failed MISERABLY in his job as he wasn’t able to frame a “yes-able” proposition to the hostage taker. Imagine asking an already impatient (Read: pissed off) gunman to still wait for a review???

    And adding insult to injury had the temerity to “lie” to the hostage taker (borne by his incoordination with assistant negotiator Romeo Salvador who promised to return the brother’s handgun and the extreme error of bringing along the brother whose presence is already suspect the first time this brother appeared on the scene)???

    Nonetheless, I believe a re-negotiation can still be done with a new…this time, trustworthy…negotiator.

    All demands of Mendoza are negotiable even up to the last minute: the primary demand (reinstatement) and the instant demands (pullout of the snipers, withdrawal of the SWAT team seen deploying, and stopping the arrest of his brother – regardless if Mendoza saw the “manhandling” on TV).

    If only the events were not overtaken by Rogas’ so-called “interview.” If only Rogas didn’t “harass” Mendoza. If only Rogas didn’t “promise” an effective communication to authorities. If only Rogas didn’t put upon himself and RMN the task of mediating the hostage taker’s demands…

    If only RMN (through Jake Maderazo) alerted the police early on the “interview” of their ongoing talks with Mendoza…

    If only Mendoza was given an opportunity of a TRUE DIALOGUE, then none of the innocents are dead today.


    Quote of the Year:

    The interview by (radio reporter) Michael Rogas gave the hostages an extra few hours to live,” Pimentel, a former senator, told the station.


    The politicians and the police are accountable but those irresponsible members of media, by virtue of their constitutionally-protected primary right to press freedom, are NOT. The most they will get, if ever found guilty of Grave Offense (first time) by the “self-regulatory” body of the KBP – the KBP Standards Authority – is a Php15,000 fine plus reprimand (Rogas and Tulfo) and Php30,000 fine plus censure (RMN).

    If the whole picture of the culminating events of the August 23 Hostage Incident will not be understood then those irresponsible members of media will continue with their irresponsibility…”only doing their jobs,” as they are mouthing what they did, with clean hands…when all the while they are bloodied by their insatiable hunger for news and their unquenchable thirst for fame!


    Media vilifying media should probably be a part of SELF-REGULATION.



    Sec. 1. Universally accepted ethical practices and code of conduct for broadcast media, pertinent Philippine laws and their implementing rules and regulations are deemed adopted in this Code.

    Sec. 2. Violations of universally accepted ethical principles and code of conduct for broadcast media not otherwise specifically covered by this Code shall be sanctioned with censure.

    Are pointers from Poynter universally accepted standards?

  3. @Baycas:

    The Poynter rules are obviously those that a reasonably prudent journalist would follow under a duty of due care. Ergo, media has been precisely and indubitably negligent.

    Those rules must have been around even before 1999. This means Philippine media either don’t know anything or pretend not to know.

    The test of negligence is not as to what you thought was your duty at the time; it is what a reasonably prudent person would have done in the circumstances. Media, like everyone else, is presumed to know what that reasonably prudent person would have done. For fixing liability in a tort action, I’m almost certain that that presumption is conclusive.

  4. Going live or not?

    There are alternatives to live coverage, Poynter’s Steele told me in a phone interview. Echoing much of the advice he offered more than a decade ago, Steele pointed out that journalists could have reported from the scene but not gone live. By not airing live footage of crisis situations, he said, journalists can omit details that could potentially harm the individuals involved.

    He suggested that journalists covering hostage situations ask themselves: What do the viewers need to know, and when do they need to know it?

    “Clearly, people needed to know a lot about this very volatile situation in the streets of Manila, and they needed to know it quickly,” Steele said. “But did they need to know it instantaneously? That would be hard to justify.”

  5. More on Ressa:

    She (Ressa) was one of the first people to tweet a link to Steele’s guidelines (in reference to Poynter Online’s “How to Cover Hostage…”) on Monday, but by Tuesday she was defending why journalists acted otherwise.

    x x x x x

    People do expect live coverage, and we’re criticized if we don’t give it.

    Copy-pasted from Live Coverage of Philippine Hostage Situation Sparks Criticism, Debate


    Was Ressa referring to “live coverage” in its true sense or was it “lives” coverage as in some form of a reality show?

    I don’t think it’s right that she should presume that people will expect “live coverage,” let alone the “lives” coverage that happened.