Monday, August 30, 2010

Hopefully we've heard the last of that pompous battle cry "Media kami!"

We are seeing today a milestone in the history of Philippine journalism. These days are seeing the end of a quarter-century reign of unfettered self-righteousness in the Philippine Media that began in 1986 when the Filipino "journalist" became a "hero" and self-styled symbol of this "freedom" we had imagined ourselves to have "won" back then.

Ironic indeed, that this same once-venerated Media now figures majorly in an appalling incidence of gross incompetence and ineptitude showcased in its greedily intense coverage of the Mendoza hostage crisis, an incident that resulted in the deaths of eight foreign tourists. It can be said that in a single act of collective stupidity within its ranks, the Philippine Media almost single-handedly had plunged the Filipino back into the Dark Ages.

Philippine journalists at one time routinely satiated their bizarre Robin Hood complexes and earned their street creds by publicly defying law enforcement officers and demonising them in their "reports". Their pompous battle cry "Media kami!" ("we are Media people!") would usually accompany their indignation crusades under the banner of the now discredited mantra of the "right to know". On the 23rd of August, this perverted mantra had finally been bandied by the Philippine Media once too often -- with horribly tragic results.

The last time the Media had figured in a similarly disruptive manner in a crisis was in 2006 when reporters shoved their way into the thick of a botched mutiny perpetrated by similarly disgruntled elements of the Army. That time they found themselves face-to-face with commandos of the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force (SAF) -- you know, the unit that should have been the one handling the August 23 hostage crisis -- whose assault put an end to the rebellion.

I quoted reporter Ellen Tordesilla's account of the quaint dramatics of the contingent of Media people who were scrambling for scoops in that 2006 mutiny here; to wit...
When the fully armed, fully masked SAF pushed the door open aiming their high-powered firearms at us, they were greeted by TV cameras as we shouted "Media kami." They went to another room but finding it empty came back. They wanted to bring us out but we complained about stinging tear gas. One SAF member said, "Okay na, okay na." One of us said, "Why don’t you remove your mask. Let’s see if you can say, ‘ok’. ANC’s Ces Drilon went on air to appeal to the authorities to stop the tear gassing so we could all go down.

After a while, the SAF came back. They first grabbed [alleged mutiny leaders] Trillanes and Lim. Then they herded the rest of us out. They ordered us to raise our hands. Most people ignored the order reasoning out, "We are not surrenderers."

Mark those words...

"Media kami!"

I doubt if we will ever hear those words again uttered with the same pompousness as they were back in 2006.

3 comments:

  1. How true!

    However, that sad reality is also true: Filipino people easily forgets and Media people can easily claim their vaunted recklessness all over again.

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  2. Best we can do is to keep on reminding everyone. :)

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  3. i'll never get tired of watching the so-called watchers kahit na ang next plan ng mga usiserong yan eh to get killed or kidnapped again para kaawaan na naman ang Philippine journalists. napaka-kapal nga every time i see them boast in their public affairs programs how they help far-flung communities, etc. pero may tatak ng channel nila ang mga goods that they give away. shameless plugging of their greed for ratings. they are running private businesses after all so it's all just business.

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