Category: media

Media, gov’t comms, #LawinPH

Katrina S.S.

One of the questions that dominated the discourse pre-Typhoon Lawin was: what the heck is government doing?

The truth was, we weren’t hearing much about what was being done, who was doing what, and whether government was prepared at all. It didn’t help that too many members of the President’s Cabinet –including the heads of communications – were with him in China, and so there was absolutely no sense at all that there was anyone in control of delivering information about the typhoon, one that was said to be akin to Typhoon Yolanda of 2013.

Here’s the thing: when you come from an Aquino government that had three communications offices, having no functioning communications office for President Duterte is nothing but a liability. For the public and the government itself.

Read on…

distressed and disconcerted

by the torrent of killings, drug-related and not, with many innocents presumably “caught in the crossfire”, but just as badly by the shabu menace that’s past eradication and likely impossible to “contain” in this third world country without livelihood options for mules, runners, and pushers and without free health and support services for addicts asking for help.

and disgusted by the announcement of house speaker pantaleon alvarez (whom we don’t know from adam, yet who is sooooo powerful all at once with that super majority na, super minority pa) that the prez has changed his mind re a constitutional convention for the shift to federalism upon the advice of previous presidents fvr, estrada, arroyo, and aquino because, you know, concon is too expensive, argh.  please naman, mr. president, this is too important.  we simply do not trust congress.  if we can’t afford to do it properly, then let’s not do it at all, instead work with what we have already, like senator nene pimentel’s local government code of 1991 that could work for the bangsamoro, too.

and disgruntled, still, by that disastrously pa-creative coverage of president duterte’s first SONA, those “disturbingly lingering, unflattering low angle ‘ilong’ shots,” ika nga ng isang veteran TV director, not to speak of the rather pointless tight shots on the presidential hands and other indie film gimmicks that were all quite inappropriate to a SONA, seriously distracting from the speech of a president who does not really speak very clearly, whether in english or tagalog or bisaya, and so you need to focus and to watch his lips if you want to catch the full sense of what he’s saying from one sentence to the next.

calling out presidential comms sec martin andanar: what were you thinking? there was nothing “master class” about that SONA coverage.  the president cannot be boring even if he tried (except to diehard critics of course) just because he’s unlike any president we’ve had before, and we need help deciphering him, adlibs, asides, and all.  and i hope it’s not true that you’re tapping the same indie feature film director (famous for poverty porn) to direct information campaigns critical to nation, unless the idea is to distract from the issues maybe, or from shifts in the presidential mindset? make it impossible for us to keep track? OMG

p.s. sana pinaghahandaan na ninyo, at ng mainstream and social media na rin, ang information campaign on federalism and constitutional change.  we expect nothing less than savvy and clarity on all sides.

digging digong

this is my 3rd attempt since his monday presscon to finish a post on president-elect duterte.  i keep getting overtaken by events – the thursday presscon was a zinger, too, and so was the friday decision to stop with the presscons for the nonce, and what about that saturday night thanksgiving speech, oh my gods.

it’s been a week and on facebook ay nanggagalaiti pa rin ang journalist circles over duterte seeming to make excuses for the journalist killings instead of saying … umm, whatever they wanted him to say, i guess, like something pnoy would say, or gma, in their politically correct ways and words that signify nothing really, because the killings went on anyway under their watch.

in a facebook message exchange with jojo abinales, the professor in hawaii who hails from mindanao, he brought up digong’s statements re journalists and thinks that maybe the prez-elect was actually referring more to broadcast journalists, not the writers.

Sa probinsya they are the pundits. So no wonder he cited Jun Pala who was a broadcaster who threatened people, could easily be paid. Kasi I doubt if he reads the newspapers or even Interaksyon or Rappler. But he listens to talk radio like all Chico de Calle … You may have to listen to talk radio for a while. The Tulfo types. Now put that in a Davao context. … Have you listened to his TV show Mula sa masa Tungo sa masa? Some of it is in YouTube. It is hilarious. I think he believes the journalists are like his interviewer in that show. One question lang and he then rants and raves.

yes, that weekly tv show worked for davao, the mayor sharing the latest, speaking his truth, from long immersion in politics, taking the time to explain, even if not in a linear or logical manner because he likes to suddenly backtrack for some history or go sideways for some synchronicity or flash forward for some prophetic promise, and then he’s back to the present, or not.  it works for me, too.  i am loving this exposure, finally, to the mindanao state of mind and to bisaya / dabawenyo the language and culture.

meanwhile, pinag-uusapan pa rin, the alleged pambabastos ni duterte sa isang lady reporter nang  kanya itong sinipulan sa monday presscon.  digong defended the whistling on thursday: “whistling is not a sexual thing,” sabi niya.   actually it is.  that kind of whistle at a woman springs from human sexuality, the male-female dynamic that keeps humanity multiplying, although i would concede, nay, insist, that whistling is the least offensive of sexual signals, and can even be pleasing to the target.  ask any man, woman, lgbt who has been whistled at in a friendly setting.  in my youth it was taken as a compliment, with good humor, because there is no real threat, with apologies to the feminists, lol.  mas problema talaga ang reaction ng asawa o boyfriend o tatay o bro, who tend to go macho and patriarchal and  get offended for their woman and feel the need to speak up to defend her honor.  but was her honor sullied at all?  i don’t think so.  to her credit, she handled it all rather well, cool na cool nga.  but yeah, maybe it’s just me and my sexually liberated (kuno) aging hippie self, haha.

i didn’t vote for duterte but i certainly respect the incontrovertible win of this rogue mayor from mindanao who dares challenge the church and the oligarchs and the drug lords that have long ruled our lives (and  look where we are now).  so his putanginas don’t bother me – kagalit-galit naman talaga ang sitwasyon.  no filter, no holds barred, no hypocrisy, is good, even if it takes getting used to.  ang nakaka-tense, yung death threats, but then again drug lords do deserve death for dealing deadly drugs.

media peeps just have to be better prepared to ask follow-ups immediately, right then and there, for the sanity of us all, instead of being rendered speechless by the unexpected from digong and then raising a howl later, like losers.  and yes to a communications team that would, for starters, go on damage-control mode right after a presscon, answering questions, explaining contexts, whatever, until media peeps get the hang, beyond soundbites, of the new prez, or until digong metamorphoses, as he threatens, into a different version of himself once he is president.  or maybe he was joking?  abangan.

inquirer’s himala moment

… 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.