Commercializing Responsible Journalism

Manila Bulletin, February 12, 2005 | Go to article overview

Commercializing Responsible Journalism


AT the last Media Nation Summit 2, similar concerns aired during previous summits and workshops were raised excessive commercialism and the need to balance commercial reality (what the public wants) with responsible journalism. The summit primarily focused on news and public affairs as these are the programs which shape public policy. The intent was to make the owners "own up" the responsibility in setting directions offering wider choices, elevating current discourse through a continuing capability-building program for practitioners, and, of course a return to the basics Journalism 101 and emphasis on good journalism truth and ethical reporting, etc. while recognizing the need to provide knowledge options to the audience so that they can make informed decisions.

The two CEOs of the largest broadcast organizations ABS-CBN CEO Gabby Lopez, and GMA Network CEO Felipe Gozon were candid about the existing reality where survival depends on the ratings game. As Lopez said, it is difficult to be optimistic about responsible journalism in a market economy. It is not an easy balancing act. News organizations, he said, must be driven by certain values integrity, professionalism, and idealism, and that he was open to facilitating change so that these values can be attained. Gozon, on the other hand, though admitting that there is no such thing as perfection, said he believes that responsible journalism is not inconsistent with profitmaking. GMA Network, he added, believes that it is good for business to be credible in news and public affairs.

In general, there was consensus among the over a hundred media practitioners that media should care about social and economic outcomes, that media is an instrument of nation-building, that media should perform its civic role in shaping the values of society. But in practice, the reality is that everyone wants to be No. 1. And, it is in this drive to be first, where TV and radio had fallen short of what the more discerning public expects.

As one who has been monitoring the media scene for several decades now, I must agree that there has been some positive growth. For one, there is now a more sober reflection on the impact of medias untrammeled growth in the free marketplace and the need to do something about it. …

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