Saturday, October 16, 2021

Nalzaro: The mainstream and new media

WHEN people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists, but I hope it will exist.

But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.” - John Adams

Hi and hello my dear readers. I am back after a month-long “sabbatical.” I am back with the same vigor, intensity and courage. I don’t want to go into the details the reason behind the “temporary disappearance” of my columns here and in Sun.Star Superbalita. The issue came out in other local newspapers early this year and it was even a subject of discussions in various local media outlets, online media and in the social networking sites.

Again, I have to reiterate that I respected the decision of Sun.Star management for the “temporary suspension” of my columns pending resolution of the Capitol standoff.

While the legal battle continues, I think the “conflict” has been resolved when suspended Gov. Gwen Garcia sneaked out from her office last week. In my 33 years in the media profession, I am fully aware of the possible repercussion if a conflict between a journalist or broadcaster and media owners arises. Like broadcasting, journalism is a privilege and not an individual’s right. A privilege granted to us (media practitioners) by media owners. And it is only the management that can take that privilege from us.

Writer H.L Mencken said; “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” The freedom of speech and of expression is enshrined in our Constitution. But it is different when you use a medium, either print or broadcast, which is being controlled and regulated by the owners or by the government.

Was there a violation of the freedom of the press? I will leave that to the public to judge. But I will assure our readers that the Bobby Nalzaro you read before is the same Bobby Nalzaro you will read until the day when I finally fade away. Thank you to those who expressed concern especially to my colleagues in the media and media watchdogs, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). Daghang salamat.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in his speech during Asian Bloggers and Social Media Conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2010, said that there is no such thing as complete press freedom anywhere in the world and organized mainstream media had always been subjected in some form of “control.” “Media would be subjected to many people (stakeholders). The media owners, editors, advertisers and not only the government,” explaining that the media panders to a lot of “pressure and control,” hence, inability to be completely free and impartial in their reporting and telling a story.

Mahathir said: “I became a blogger because I was blocked out from mainstream media. I still needed to say something. Many people told me that it was something I did when I was the Prime Minister. You know I was the Prime Minister for a long time. But if I did, I must have done it to protect the interest of the people. I did not do it because I had bad intentions.”

“Our problem is how to sort out the information and news that is coming to us. What is true and what is not true, what is valuable and what is worthless. This requires certain skills. The bloggers will do a great service to the community if they can really do this. We now have a new powerful medium almost without control by the authorities. I say there is some control because new media is still (vulnerable to) libel for their writings. They must tell the truth. They should not make up things.

There is a need to have ethics while blogging and expressing a view or opinion in the new media,” Mahathir said.

I say amen.

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