Selective information-A A +A
Straight from Carolinas
Saturday, August 17, 2013
READING the editorial of the Aug. 12 issue of the Mindanao Current inspired me to write this.
The editorial was about the July 26 bombing and it said that “we found out that there were developments in the investigation except that the media was left out (of the loop). And once again the local media was dumped by imperial Manila.”
In the US if there is an incident taking place or has taken place which concerns life and death or national and local security, almost everyone is glued to the radio or TV waiting for the press conference.
I’ve observed that every hour a press conference is held to apprise the public of the situation through media outlets.
It is expected that the reporters would update the home studio or online news websites. The bottom line is that the public gets informed about developments immediately.
Take the cases of the Sandy Hook School shooting at Connecticut or the Boston bombing. Both incidents shocked not only the American public but the whole world and updates were given every hour.
Radio and TV-programs were cut short to broadcast the live press conferences. As reports of the shooting surfaced, frantic parents had to resort to media for updates and waited for the mayor with the cops to assuage their fears.
Usually it is the mayor, the governor with the chief of police and the doctors who would be giving updates of the incident.
If there are victims, doctors would be around if there’s a fire then the elected officials would be with the fire fighters. It is that time where all questions are asked and no media outlet is above the others.
And there are days when the cops take over the press conference, meaning they were on their own without the presence of elected leaders. All is fair in press conferences and all is fair for the sake of updates to the public.
Outside the police or mayor’s office, microphones, cameras or video are on standby and ready for the press conference with reporters armed with recorders, pens and papers. I assumed all is invited to the press con.
Back home (I am talking of the Cagayan de Oro setting, I assume it is still now) I noticed that if there is a press conference on a killing or somebody surrendered not all members of the press are invited, only the big media outlets are present; in the process reporters/journalists do their own networking so they scoop other media outlets.
Usually big radio stations/TV or reputable newspapers would be called and the little ones will be left on their own to interview those present so they can write their reports. That’s dangerous because they would only get second-hand information.
What’s worse is if an incident like the July 26 bombing happened when the Manila media would know more about it than the local media. The local media is again humiliated; it’s as if only their national counterparts deserve to know the truth.
Years ago, press briefings were kept secret and those interested to know about updates would just follow the footsteps of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro photojournalist Joey Nacalaban to see where they lead; most often it’s broadcast practitioners Edgar Navarro or Mark Martinez who would follow or the other way around.
Mark Francisco is fortunate that he got the order from his editor in chief plus he is a pal of Joey. When cell phone use became widespread, those reporters who were invited would invite others to the surprise of the host.
That should not be the case! Big or small, press people are all important in dispensing information to the public. By the way it is not the size of the ID cards that make a media practitioner big or small if you know what I mean.
Or as pointed out by the Mindanao Current “We don’t know if this was deliberate but we were told that the designated information officer simply did not know what to do and, as he also claims, he was told not to say anything yet.”
What kind of an information officer would tell this to media outlets? Labas tawo-tawo lang japun (He/she turns out to be a yes man/woman).
If I was the designated information officer I would give my mouth to the chief who designated me and ask the chief that they exchange positions.
What happened next boomeranged on the PNP; the PNP chief announced there were three suspects but it later turned out that there was only one because he was unable to verify the information from local sources. Good riddance.
It is a valid concern; the July 26 Cagayan de Oro bombing gained international attention as it was assumed to be linked to international terrorism. I agree that the PNP should not only learn how to handle big cases but also to deal well with local and national media.
Getting the right information at the right time is important. No “favoritism” please because the public deserves to be informed about incidents from all available sources.
And I like that picture posted at Facebook showing Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Congressmen Rufus Rodriquez and Rolando Uy with police officials surrounded by local media at City Hall.
That picture tells it all and it should always be like that whenever major events occur. But there also comes a time that the police would carefully dispense information due to its sensitive nature in order not to compromise their investigation. “Puti ba sad itlog (Egg is white after all).”
Straight from the Carolinas would like to congratulate the members of the “Eskwelahang Munti” at Charlotte for the laudable project of conducting classes using Tagalog as a medium of instruction to Fil-American children.
“Eskwelahang Munti” translated as “Little School” would teach Fil-Am youths about Filipino values, geography, history, arts and music, literature and Pinoy cuisine and areas of concerns in the Philippines together with basic and major subjects.
The program is aimed at teaching children about conversational Tagalog and showing the Philippines as a beautiful country; rich in heritage and resources and above all, people. The methodologies would instil love and respect to Philippine Culture and language.
I doff my hat off to Gloria Grifenhagen, Dell Fallar and Sheer Tamayo-Siplon who started the summer camp and the new volunteers like Guia Villapando, Luz Taboada and all women of substance here at Charlotte for doing their social responsibility to others.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 17, 2013.