Educator urges media: use freedom responsibly-A A +A
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
FORTY years after Martial Law began, are today’s media workers using freedom responsibly?
The anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, which falls within Cebu Press Freedom Week, should compel media workers to “make an examination of conscience” on how we have performed our responsibilities, a priest and educator said yesterday.
Fr. Dionisio Miranda, SVD, addressed journalists during the First Cebu Media Excellence Awards, sponsored by Globe Telecommunications and held at the Casino Español. Miranda, president of the University of San Carlos (USC), also led the panel of judges who selected the awardees.
“This week, we commemorate Proclamation 1081, which was issued last Sept. 21, 1972…As a young cleric in Tagaytay, I have vivid memories of that eventful day,” Fr. Miranda said.
Now that journalists are free, they would be wise to reflect on their objectives, as well as moral and ethical responsibilities, he said.
The “telos” or essential purpose of media work, he said, is to inform the public in a public or open way, so that they can make informed judgments about how to achieve their own purposes.
“Put differently, the aim of media is to publicize to the public so it can come to a public judgment,” the USC president said.
He challenged media workers to practice journalistic justice, fortitude, temperance and prudence.
Journalists fall short of the bar of journalistic justice when they report inaccurately, Miranda said.
Fortitude, he said, is shown when a journalist defends moral convictions even he or she is in the minority. But at the same time, he warned journalists against “false courage” or the promotion of a position “that one knows is clearly false and manipulative.”
As to temperance, Fr. Miranda encouraged journalists, “All viewpoints should be allowed their public space and hearing; no single group should impose itself on the other except through the means of democracy. Temperance is tolerance.”
In a world of nearly-instantaneous information spreading through texts and online social networks, journalists must practice prudence, by thinking carefully about what information to release, when and in what form, he said.
“At times, disclosure of sensitive information can be intensely problematic,” he said.
Last February, when rumors of a tsunami sent crowds running after a quake hit Cebu and Negros Oriental, it was “a clear case of journalistic imprudence,” Fr. Miranda said.
The radioman who is alleged to have started the rumor is now facing a case in court.
Fr. Miranda urged the media to rethink certain practices, like excessive “info-taining” and the exclusion of “the invisible and inaudible” while “the elite will always have their society pages.” Columnists, he added, should make an effort to be more informed than the average reader and to be always respectful.
Be honest and be decent, he challenged media workers. “When responsible, media can nurture on a daily basis a sense of the people’s best selves.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 19, 2012.