“WHY did you go into Mass Communication? Journalism is dead.”
Those were the words they told me when I informed my friends and family of my choice of college course some years ago. I feel belittled and discouraged. But I know despite their remarks they said it out of good intention, and truth of the matter is there was some merit in their statements.
Journalism is in a tough spot right now. The Filipino people, regardless of age, financial status and political affiliation, seem to have lost their trust in those practicing the profession.
There was a time that when you ask any random person what they thought was the most dishonest professions, they’d likely have said congressman, business executive, car salesman, but they would likely not have said journalist.
So why is it that our trust in what is supposed to be the beacon of truth dwindled to the point that many of us would prefer to get our news from less credible sources or faceless bloggers on the internet over trained and educated journalists?
The truth of the matter is there is no single answer.
In our ever divided nation, it looks like there are only two sides - the supporters of the opposition mockingly called “the Dilawan”, and the supporters of our administration, known as “the DDS”.
Regardless of which side you are on, it can be safe to assume that the two sides have little to no middle ground, and every time a story comes up supporting one side, the other is quick to call out “fake news” or “biased media”.
Truly, in a perfect world we could all have different opinions on subjective matters, but agree on universal truths, verified facts presented by honest journalists, and through the truth, we mold our opinion and not the other way around.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. In our world, people choose what they believe in almost as though they’re opinion affects what is true and what is false.
This can be attributed to the phenomenon called “confirmation bias”. One is more likely to accept facts that are consistent with his personal beliefs than he is to accept facts that are consistent with reality. This perhaps is one of the greatest reasons as to why people are so rampant in accepting certain stories aligning with their beliefs while being quick to deny anything contrary, regardless of the facts.
On the other hand, I cannot in good faith say that the media is always unbiased. I cannot also say that the media as a whole has no internal agenda other than to serve the truth. It is clear that even journalists may pick sides in our nation’s divide, but that is not how it should be.
Journalists should never give their loyalty to any president or politician. I go so far as to say that in my opinion, journalists should not give their loyalty to the wants and desires of the Filipino people. I believe that if any single entity deserves the undying loyalty of journalism as a profession, it is the truth.
The ugly truth, the hopeful truth, the only truth, whether that causes despair or fuels hope. Journalism should serve the truth and nothing but the truth. Even if it is difficult, especially if it is difficult. It is tantamount that we find the truth because in the absence of truth there are only lies.
We should, as responsible practitioners of the profession, value honesty and truth above all. Maybe then will people trust the practice again. Maybe then will people think of journalists’ words as the drops of truth in the sea of lies. And maybe then, in the truth, journalists can create the common ground and through which give the means where we, as a society, can stitch together the divide in our country.
Maybe they were right. Maybe in a way journalism is dead, or maybe it’s dying.
Regardless, we as a society can’t give up on it. Because without honest journalism to give us the unity in the truth that we need to come together, we can never meet in the middle, we can never have the constructive discussion needed to fix our country’s problems, and we can never achieve the unity needed for our country to prosper. (Hadrian Sorongon)