Cebu papers cover less prominent candidates
Cebu Print Media Coverage of the 2010 Elections
Fourth Monitoring Period
(March 28-April 10 2010)
CEBU’S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DAILIES
Weeks 7 and 8 covering March 28-April 10, 2010 saw a slight decrease in the number of election-related reports from 388 in Weeks 5 and 6 to 353 reports about the elections. Proportionally however, news content about the elections increased to 30% of the news hole from 26% in Weeks 5 and 6 and 22% in Weeks 3 and 4. Sun.Star Cebu had the most number of election-related reports at 137, followed by The Freeman (117) and Cebu Daily News (99). Reports on the local race remained dominant which included the controversial shifting of political alliances at the local level as national candidates vie for local support.
News about the elections was given more prominence more than halfway through the campaign period. More election-related reports appeared on the front pages of the local English-language dailies in Weeks 7 and 8 at 8% of the total election-related reports compared to 5% in Weeks 5 and 6. There were 17 bannered election-reports – six each in Sun.Star Cebu and The Freeman, and five in Cebu Daily News. Sixty percent of election-related reports in the inside pages were in the main news section while the rest were distributed to the nation, business and community sections.
Coverage of the local electoral campaign remained dominant in the fourth monitoring period with 165 reports. Second was “Elections in general” (110), followed by “Presidential” (87), “Senatorial” (25), “Party-list” (19), “Vice-presidential” (15), and “Local Non-Cebu” (12).
Coverage of the electoral race still focused on the “campaign” theme (141) especially political defections and dalliances, followed by personality/character/record (136) and cockfight (112). Development/policy issues were less prominently featured compared to Weeks 5 & 6.
Controversy over the shifting of political alliances at the local level allowed some less prominent news subjects in previous weeks to be in the news for days, among them local administration party One Cebu, led by Governor Gwen Garcia who supports Gibo Teodoro, and Mandaue City mayoral candidate Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, who was accused of ‘turncoatism’ for turning her back on Teodoro in favor of Manny Villar.
Unlike in the previous monitoring period, when the study team recommended devoting more space to often ignored electoral contenders, some articles during this period covered less prominent candidates and political parties in detail. For instance, the Mar. 31, 2010 issue of Sun.Star Cebu featured the Butil Farmers Party-list (“Farmers’ party-list names 5 nominees,” Page A12 Top Stories) and a 79-year-old ex-dad making a comeback bid for a seat in the Talisay City Council (“Ex-dad tries his luck anew,” Page A12 Top Stories).
The Comelec remained the major source of election-related stories. As a result of the controversy generated by the “turncoatism” of some Cebu politicians and Manny Villar’s alleged raid on Gibo Teodoro’s allies in the One Cebu Party, the top news sources during this period included the One Cebu Party, Governor Gwen Garcia, Teodoro, and Villar. The NGOs, civil society groups and the Catholic Church were also active in promoting responsible voting, peaceful and orderly elections, and in the case of the Church, its pro-life stance. Sun.Star Cebu’s report “Losing volunteers,” covered the quandary of poll watchdog Cebu Citizens Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel), which lost many of their volunteers to politicians and political parties that paid them for their services. This is an example of news coverage focusing readers’ attention on the role of civil society in elections.
The April 10, 2010 Sun.Star Cebu article, “PPCRV asks Comelec to review ink contract,” featured the call of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting to review and rebid the contract for the supply of indelible ink to be used on May 10.
The most photographed news sources were Cebu gubernatorial candidate Hilario “Junjun” Davide III (11), Gibo Teodoro (9), former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. (8), Manny Villar (8), reelectionist Cebu governor Gwen Garcia (7), and Mandaue City mayoral candidate Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz (6).
There was an improvement in the objectivity of coverage as most articles included background (97%) and context to enable readers to understand and use the information for May 10. Overall neutrality, however, remained at an average of 86% as in the previous monitoring period. Neutrality was at 73% for The Freeman, 91% for Cebu Daily News, and 93% for Sun.Star Cebu. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and presidential candidate Manny Villar were the top news subjects portrayed negatively in slanted reports.
NEUTRAL VS. SLANTED REPORTS