Byline: Florangel Rosario Braid
LAST week, we presented a paper based on preliminary findings of a study on "Prejudice and Pride: News Media's Role in Promoting Tolerance," a project of pagbabago@pilipinas. As Bart Guingona and Dr. Chito Salazar, Pagbabago's convenors stated, the project is intended to examine the roots of prejudice, mainstream the problem, and identify possible legislation that can address the issue.
As was shown in the study, prejudice is a deepseated cultural problem, a result of early social conditioning in the home, the school, and the workplace. The research focus was on the relationship of media and prejudice and how the issue of ethnic and social divide can be addressed by a more vigilant and sociallyresponsible media.
Why the media? Because of media's penetration and reach, and its ability to condition mindsets and shape the direction of events, it is important for policy planners engaged in social transformation to harness this powerful force. With the advent of the new information and communication technologies, the power of the media has been multiplied many times over. We hear about the "halo" effect of the media - that it is regarded as a credible source of information. As one would say, it must be true because I heard it over TV and radio or read it in the newspaper. But we also know that the conflict in Mindanao has been exacerbated by the media which continues to portray the country as a monolithic society. Misunderstanding within and about Mindanao is due to biases and misconceptions brought about by decades of domination by the majority group. As former Senator Santanina Rasul stated, the Muslims have long resented the "gross injustice of being neglected, set aside and overlooked, remaining outside the mainstream of Philippine society, and eking out an existence in the periphery. Human development factors -- literacy and economic productivity are lowest in Muslim-dominated areas."
Why focus on prejudice and pride? Prejudice, as Kenneth Boulding describes it, is a "disintegrative power that is achieved through hatred, fear, and threat of a common enemy. It can stem from pride -- when one defends his or her opinion at all costs -- and disregards or looks down on …