Their kind of “Journalism”

By Luis V. Teodoro

In a supposed interview with Marjohara Tucay, editor in  chief of the University of the Philippines Diliman student newspaper the Philippine Collegian,GMA-7 TV’s Howie Severino implied that by expressing his opposition to the Visiting Forces Agreement in that alleged press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the latter was in violation of the ethics and professional standards of journalism. In so many words, Mr. Severino asked if what Mr. Tucay did was the journalism his generation was being taught.

With even more reason can we ask  if, while demanding “objectivity” on the part of Tucay, Severino was also being “objective” when he practically harangued the latter in favor of his own views— and over his own network, which also described Tucay as the Collegian editor who caused a disturbance(nanggulo) in the GMA-7 event. We might also ask if the media spectacle GMA-7 and Severino put in place in  behalf of Clinton is what his generation has learned about journalism.

Apparently their idea of “objective”  journalism is to stage and script what could have been a meaningful interview by planting in the audience brain-dead actors and actresses charged with asking the most asinine questions  ever asked of anyone, in a too obvious attempt to shield Clinton from being asked the hard questions that journalists not only can ask, but should be asking.

Among those questions, for example, is what  Clinton meant by saying she was visiting Asia and the Philippines in behalf of peace: is Asia, in the US view,   then at war?  Or is the US, by using the Spratlys issue to justify establishing bases in Australia and the Philippines through the VFA, actually fomenting conflict, specifically with capitalist China?  And what of the Aquino government, which has assumed the usual role of its predecessor puppet governments as the US Trojan Horse in the latter’s current focus on once more penetrating Asia?  Is the Obama administration not in fact following the Bush blueprint of projecting US power all over the planet in furtherance of its  strategic, political, and economic interests, with Asia being currently in its sights? Have these anything to do with the US elections next year, given the US Republican Party’s  demand that the US turn the screws on China?

These questions, among others, should have been asked, the answers being significant to this country’s future, its development, and the kind of “democracy” that has mutated in it. What GMA-7 staged may have been a media event; it was certainly not a journalistic one. In these circumstances, Tucay had every right and indeed the responsibility not only to express himself,  but also to demand some sanity in an alleged press conference. By assuming that it was a press conference,  Tucay was being too charitable: a press conference that event wasn’t, which means that Severino had no business demanding compliance with the ethics and professional standards of journalism, violations of which GMA-7 could be more justifiably accused than  student journalists, most of whom, in the University of the Philippines, for example, know better than to behave like fawning and simpering colonials.