How media hinder Filipino unity
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-03-25
Two recent events have clearly demonstrated Filipino traits that make it very difficult to attain national unity.

On March 14 Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, passed away. She was regarded even in life as a saint and a visionary for her social initiatives and spiritual leadership. On March 16, Manny Pacquiao won in a title fight that many considered to be a unifying moment for Filipinos.

Both Chiara Lubich and Manny Pacquiao became icons for the desperate search for Filipino unity. Chiara Lubich gave us a blueprint for Christian love and living that touched economic, social and political realms. Alas, Pacquiao had nothing but his celebrity status as a boxer to offer to unite us Filipinos.

Guess what caught the attention of Philippine media?

Except for the Philippine STAR which gave it front page attention, the demise of a greatest Christian visionary was not even mentioned in most media outfits. Ironically, Japan, despite its negligible Catholic population, accorded Lubich’s passing due coverage in the news.

All over the world, the political and spiritual leaders led by Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to the champion of Christ’s unity for mankind. Christ’s hope “That all may be one” had inspired Chiara Lubich to start the Focolare Movement which now counts at least 120,000 active members and over 2.5 million adherents in over 182 countries.

It is quite amazing that for a movement that is so closely associated with the Vatican — the Focolare is warmly received in over a dozen Muslim countries. The Focolare was accepted in Iraq even during the regime of Saddam Hussein. There are Focolare chapters in other militant Islamic states, such as Iran, Libya and Syria.

If media had the least bit of enlightenment, they would be putting out stories that unite, edify and inspire. Sad to say, media’s commercial focus seems to be its only objective for being. Higher values and news that inspire and enlighten are sacrificed for showbiz gossip, crime and sex.

Chiara Lubich’s powerful ideology reaches out to the hearts of the rich and poor alike. She inspires people of different faiths and nationalities by showing them that Christ’s Gospel is a Gospel of Love that translates just as well in the realm of economics (Economy of Communion or EoC) and even in politics — as shown in the Focolare’s Movement for Unity in Politics.

Lubich’s EoC could well be the solution to the Philippine Wealth Gap that has been threatening to provoke a social explosion. Her Movement for Unity in Politics has successfully promoted cooperation among rival political factions in many countries in order to serve the common good — something we desperately need here.

If we had a better informed — and therefore a more discerning media consumer — media will have no choice but to raise the bar of journalism standard. Publishers and journalists for business publications know that their readers will not patronize tabloid-type journalism and that is why business papers are more sober and more careful with accuracy and contextual reporting.

TV news reporting is very similar to the approach utilized by the tabloid papers. The TV network bosses must account for all that news coverage of barangay issues like a stabbing, a wife beating, and a juvenile gang encounter but hardly any mention of the social impact of a Chiara Lubich. Are they seeking to promote more of the same socio-economic problems by prioritizing these local crime stories — instead of highlighting important developments that offer meaningful solutions to our social, economic and political problems?

Media will have to stop blaming their consumers for forcing media to write the kind of junk the consumers want. Media must vault from becoming mere ‘mirrors’ of the society in which they operate and account for exacerbating the information gap.

They are supposed to illuminate those who are in the dark. But in their chase for revenues, media here have missed upholding the lofty nature of their profession.

Instead of providing the guiding perspective, media even helped bolster the chances of inept candidates during elections. Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ) was the least qualified presidential candidate during the 2004 presidential elections and yet one of the leading dailies (definitely not the STAR!) gave FPJ as many as six front page stories on one given day.

If FPJ so much as sneezed while speaking in a rally, that would have landed on front page in that daily. Not so well covered is the inspired education program of the late Raul S. Roco, to me the most qualified 2004 presidential candidate.

Media could be a very powerful tool for demanding a higher campaign level among candidates for public office. Media, for instance, could have compelled Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and FPJ to join the debates during the 2004 presidential election campaign.

Media could have exerted pressure on GMA and FPJ to debate by threatening to boycott their respective campaigns if they persisted in depriving the voters the forum for comparing the best candidates and platforms.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo