PH first drug reporting guide launched, discourages ‘harmful labels’ on people involved with drugs
MANILA, Philippines — A media toolkit designed to help journalists cover and report on drug-related stories and issues was launched by a network of advocates advancing humane drug policies on Friday.
The Drug Policy Reform Initiative (DPRI) released this guide to media practitioners during the last day of its first fellowship for humane drug policy held at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City.
According to DPRI, the “Putting Persons First: Drug Reporting and the Media” toolkit was developed by its advocates and journalists to help reporters cover drug-related incidents, including buy-bust operations, arrests, and searches.
“We are proud to say that this is the first comprehensive media toolkit on drug reporting in the country written through the lens of harm reduction – an approach to drug use that shuns stigma, discrimination, and coercion,” said DPRI lead convener Atty. Kristine Mendoza.
Mendoza explained that this approach includes avoiding the use of “stigmatizing and harmful” terms such as “adik (addict), durugista (druggist), and drug-abuser” when writing or reporting about arrested individuals using or involved with narcotics.
“It is important to highlight that drug use does not define a person,” Mendoza emphasized, adding that the toolkit encourages journalists to use labels like “persons who use drugs or persons whose lives include drugs” instead.
She said the guide also challenges journalists to present stories questioning the assumption about a “drug problem” and to break the notion that drug use equates to crime.
“Contrary to popular narrative, evidence shows that the majority of people who use drugs do so in a non-problematic manner and do no harm to self and others,” Mendoza disclosed.
The DPRI not only discouraged the use of certain derogatory terms, but also urged journalists to exercise compassion when interviewing drug-affected individuals and communities, as opposed to stoking the fears of those who have lost loved ones to drug addiction or luring suspects into making false statements.
“People over deadlines; people over headlines. Let’s put persons – their wellbeing, safety, and truth – first,” Mendoza said.
DPRI made the toolkit available to the public, which can be accessed here.