so what’s winston garcia of gsis up to, doing a mike defensor and doing it worse, harassing bullying persecuting no less than the veteran journalist cheche lazaro, who is highly esteemed, widely loved, and multi-awarded for the excellence and relevance of her body of work in broadcast journalism and nation-building? and don’t tell me that winston garcia is not calling the shots here, because that’s simply not to be believed in the context of either the public teachers’ gsis pension plight or the war between garcia and the lopezes over meralco, or both.
cheche lazaro is right, she did not break the anti-wiretapping law. she wasn’t a sammy ong or a vidal doble wire-tapping gma’s phone conversations with garci without gma’s and garci’s knowledge. she was just cheche of probe interviewing a gsis pr lady on her cellphone for a show she was putting together, and yes she recorded the conversation, in the course of which she informed the gsis lady that it was being recorded, and the gsis lady did not stop talking, did not get off the line in protest, so what’s the crime. the complaint shouldnot have prospered. there is no wiretapping case.
what there is however is a breach of journalistic ethics. when cheche aired a part of the recorded conversation without the gsis pr lady’s consent, cheche gave the lady reason to ask,what about my individual right to privacy?
Are the media allowed to violate the individual rights of a person? I was asking the court if the media could simply call you up, record your conversation, and broadcast it for the entire world to hear; all these, without your knowledge, much less, your permission.
…”I am a believer of the significant role journalists play in a democratic system. They are the watchmen, protecting us from wrongdoings taking place both in government and private sectors. But even journalists are not infallible. They can have their share of wrongdoings. And when journalists do wrong, how can we – especially private individuals – protect ourselves from them?”
the gsis pr lady gave cheche tacit approval to record, but not to disclose. “hindi po lalabas…” and cheche agreed, “no, no…” yet she did put out a part of it, on the convoluted ground that the gsis pr lady had insisted that it be explained to viewers that gsis refused to grant an interview because of biased reporting by lopez-owned media entities. cheche could simply have shown the official letter refusing the invitation to air the gsis side, she could have highlighted, even read out the pertinent parts, and the message would have been sent as effectively.
given her long history in the business, it surprises that cheche chose to publicize what was clearly off-the-record. of course journalists hate off-the-record, it usually denies them the satisfaction of scooping a juicy story, but it’s a short-sighted view. some of the biggest stories of corporate scandals, i am told, have been broken based on information that off-the-record statements led to. there’s value, too, in something said that you can’t write or broadcast but which you can follow up in private and which might lead to you more info you would otherwise have missed out on.
the question is, why did cheche do it? freedom of the press? maybe she thought she could get away with it because the larger issue of gsis’s lack of transparency or the teachers’ well-being is more important than any government official’s privacy? maybe she thought that off-the-record was an outdated ethic, it doesn’t promote nation-building? maybe she thought that public opinion would be with her given the low satisfaction ratings of government and its institutions? but says bong austero:
Lazaro is of course a pillar in broadcast journalism in this country with a sterling reputation both in academe and in media. I am a fan of Lazaro; I think very highly of her work … Being dismayed that someone of her caliber has to go through something like this is a natural gut reaction.
But if we really come to think about it, who Lazaro is and what she stands for is important and relevant but is not a foolproof defense and justification. I dread the idea that anyone who feels wronged cannot file a case against anyone on account of that other person’s reputation. I dread the idea that people likeLazaro is deemed untouchable because of who she is.
Moreover, I think it’s a disservice to automatically rile against the whole case, scream suppression of freedom of the press, and make reckless generalizations about how the case is yet another proof of sinister political machination of the powers-that-be without considering the intrinsic value of the case … the whole case is potentially just as much a chance to validate press freedom given the opportunity it offers to vindicate Lazaro’s cause as it is an opportunity to stress the right to privacy of individuals against the often invasive posturing of media.
and says the daily tribune:
The local media community appears to be divided on the issue on whether the Lazaro case is a case of press freedom or a case of a journalist having violated the rules of journalism, as even an instance of a journalist airing or publishing agreed off-the-record statements of his source is already a breach of journalistic ethics.
It will be recalled that veteran US broadcaster Connie Chung was booted out of the major network in the US a decade ago for having aired an off the record comment made by the mother of then Rep. Newt Gringgich that then First Lady Hilary Clinton was a bitch. This was not regarded as a case of press freedom, but a violation of the rules of journalism.
and says alex magno:
The mass media could be intrusive. It could so easily break into anyone’s privacy and brazenly trample on rights to privacy. There needs to be a finer consensus in the journalistic community over the conduct of interviews and the use of phone conversations, outside the formal setting of an interview, for airing.
On this concern, there is public merit in hearing out the arguments in the case filed against Cheche. Ordinary citizens, not only journalists, have rights too.
a qualified yes. there is public merit in hearing out the arguments in the case of cheche but only on the question of journalistic ethics, NOT on the bogus and ridiculous wiretapping charges which should be dropped, the arrest order withdrawn, and the bail money returned. in fairness lang naman.