‘Media should stick to role as observers, watchdogs’
Stick to the facts and don’t confuse the role of journalists with that of news sources in government.
Columnist Cito Beltran of the Philippine Star gave this advice in his talk yesterday “Government in a World with No Wang-wang,” one of the forums held in celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week.
“You are not the Department of Justice or the Prosecutor’s Office or the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Beltran said.
“If you are a writer, write. If you are a broadcaster, broadcast. If you are a reporter, report.”
The forum sponsored by the Freeman looked into role of journalists and public officials in the Aquino administration.
“Don’t be confused about your roles. If there is injustice, write about it. Half of the media who got killed because they crossed the line. They got personal,” he said.
“Politicians see media as enemies or friends. Politicians want to make friends with the media but they don’t trust them. We think that since we are the media, our job is to criticize. The government thinks their job is to hide,” said Beltran, who used to host a TV news talk show.
Beltran urged mediamen to likewise give credit where it is due.
“Media is not about criticizing. When you see something nice, praise it,” he said.
Beltran said the media should make sources familiar with the job of journalists, and trust and protect their sources.
“The problem is that as Filipinos we don’t know how to introduce yourselves for fear of rejection. But it’s part of your job. Don’t be afraid of being rejected,” he said.
When a mediaman sees a source doing something wrong, Beltran said he or she can ask a colleague to report it to avoid directly tangling with them.
“You don’t fight yourself. You have to find a ‘replacement assassin,’” he said.
Journalists should also verify information so as not to ruin the reputation of others.
“Don’t bear false witness against your neighbor,” Beltran said, quoting the Bible.
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