Reuters Institute stands by 2023 report on state of Philippine media
MANILA, Philippines — The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism maintained on Saturday that its critical findings on Philippine media were accurate, despite a claim to the contrary of the government’s task force on media security.
“We stand by the work and everyone involved in it,” said the institute’s director Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. “We reject this attack on the (Digital News Report 2023) Philippines profile as ‘false.’”
He was referring to the response of former journalist Paul Gutierrez, the new head of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, who branded the contents of the report as “false.”
Gutierrez argued that media security was a key priority of the Marcos administration and that the report conflated professional issues with ideological propaganda.
“An environment ensuring the life, liberty, and security of the members of the press is not only one of the country’s international commitments but also a primary responsibility of the government to its people,” said Gutierrez, a former president of the National Press Club.
“Protecting the members of the press in a democratic environment such as ours is a daunting task that needs the cooperation of everyone if it is to succeed and the data showed we are headed in that direction,” he added.
“Let us not glorify the statements of foreign [organizations that], in their arrogance, always believe they know better than us,” Gutierrez said.
“Don’t bully us. Respect us and we will respect them,” Gutierrez said in a Viber message to the Inquirer.
The official correctly pointed out that “Red-tagging” was not a crime in the Philippines and that people have the right to call out what they perceive to be propaganda.
But he also did not comment on the report’s point that Red-tagging, particularly when used with death threats and harassment lawsuits, can directly affect media professionals adversely.
For Nielsen, the analysis of University of the Philippines professor Yvonne Chua was accurate.
Chua said that the media landscape in the Philippines was still “largely grim” with continuing violations of press freedom, killings of journalists, and the use of “lawfare” or legal actions against journalists; among others.
The report also stated that the overall trust in the news was “boosted to some extent” by the COVID-19 pandemic with Filipinos relying more on the news media. From the brand trust scores, newspapers Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, and the Philippine Star all enjoyed a 68 percent trust rate.
Radio stations dzBB and dzRH also had the same trust rate. GMA Network, on the other hand, enjoyed a 74 percent trust rate.
Online news site Rappler had the lowest of the 15 news outlets named in the report with a 47 percent trust rate and a distrust rate of 33 percent.