Pilipinas, Are You Not Overentertained (and Underinformed)?

[Requested by Gian Paolo Dela Cruz]

ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes made an admission in her employer that their offerings made its audience “overentertained and underinformed” on a virtual forum last October 23.

OVER A MONTH AGO, — October 23, to be exact — ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes admitted during a virtual forum where the audience is “overentertained and underinformed” and the employer was felt “guilty” for that.

Opinions on her divulgence are very sharp as knives.

Serial haters would admonish her and her employer hardly and eat their humble pie after the media giant “rightfully deserved” to lose their free-to-air broadcast license a bit more than half a year ago.

Others had different yet valid views on their different aspects like the association of language and straightforwardness and the structure of segments (showbiz segments before every commercial break and light news item to wrap up the hard news).

Others wanted to go escapism — simply put, staying away from newscasts (even before the pandemic) — as they are fed up with the “he said/she said” type of journalism that surviving media entities espoused under the reign of populist demagoguery with spokespersons making possible spins and excuses to cover up possible harm. In other words, they are tired of gaslighting.

The way we consume the news is changing from newspapers to radio to TV to web and to mobile. All media entities have to capitalize on the use of modern technology to keep up with the times. In this era, you can tell which outlet it comes from, judging by their color schemes and fonts on their posts; the common ground on all outlets is that they emphasize the headline and the summary of the story (with the link appending). This is a common psychological argument.

Because of social media, screenshots of the trending list on Twitter were shared and so are the picturesque scenes with proper attribution.

Thanks to this medium, they are prone to disinformation. Thankfully, fact-checking outlets like Rappler and VERA Files worked hard to refute most false claims that are posted like wildfire. However, die-hard supporters don’t matter and it won’t stop posting praises for their political idols as if every act is always right in their eyes.

But things became different afterward…

Challenging the claims, a month after

One month after Ms. Reyes made that remark, significant events transpired.

Super Typhoon Rolly (November 1)

One week post-confession, Mother Nature gave a challenge. On All Saints’ Day, Supertyphoon Rolly (international name: Goni) battered Bicol and two provinces of Calabarzon (i.e. Quezon and Batangas).

While the common argument spewed by the incumbent administration supporters that “there are other media entities,” they failed to include the factor of two R’s — reach and reputation.

In terms of reach, not everyone — even in far-flung areas like Catanduanes — has cable or satellite. Internet connectivity from the telco towers is severely affected. The AM/FM radio is accessible but it does not get the full picture; television depicts how deadly the storm is and how the damage on the trail is conveyed that cannot be expressed in words.

Assuming that all networks had the same reach as ABS was, the reputation come into play:

  • GMA is, therefore, next in line and people expected better. Alas, that was not the case. Their News TV didn’t cover the swathe of destruction throughout that Sunday as, after airing the press briefing, they aired an anime block, a Lakorn and a Christmas movie (in that order), let alone covering hourly updates. Let’s face it, the channel’s daytime simulcast of DZBB from mid-March — when the lockdown began — until September was their best feat. The funny thing is that their Affordabox has an emergency warning broadcast system (EWBS) feature.
  • TV5 was committed with Brightlight Production programs on that day but they have their news advisory in the free-to-air platform but One News PH, which is exclusive on Cignal, delegated most of the coverage. *verification needed*
  • PTV — despite being the “best” media entity, according to fanatics — did not really do well; they waited until 10:00 a.m. for the NDRRMC press conference. During that coverage, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said that the typhoon has just passed from the province. People wouldn’t watch that, aside from the most obvious hint that the network’s news items are always defensive of the sitting administration (either through Spokesperson Harry Roque or Senator Bong Go on the Laging Handa Public Briefing).
  • CNN Philippines would have done a better job had it not for being preoccupied with the recently contested US presidential election. The public under class C and below would not understand because the majority of their newscasts are delivered mostly in English and the network is straightforward and deemed intelligent.

Typhoon Ulysses (mid-November)

Two weeks after Rolly, Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) battered Luzon once again and this time, the denuded terrains of Sierra Madre (the natural typhoon barrier) splurged brown floodwaters and as a result of evaporation, mud, over Marikina City, Quezon province and — at worst — Cagayan Valley. GMA covered it right this time over the wrath and damage.

In an interview with ANC the following Monday, Isabela governor Rodito Albano III bemoaned the absence of ABS-CBN’s news crew. Christian Esguerra, the anchor, lectured out that his brother (Antonio) was involved — with four other congressmen in the province — in killing the franchise renewal bid last July 10 that consequentially killed the whole Regional Network Group on August 31.

When Vice President Leni Robredo showed up and requested AFP for rescue, President Duterte didn’t show up as he was busy with the virtual international summits via video conferencing.

Days after the loud trend of #NasaanAngPangulo, he spouted pettiness in his weekly address to the nation. Going too far, netizens are enforcing the lessons learned from the U.S. presidential election, to step up the game.

An opinion piece from a guest has posted on Rappler last Monday, giving a hint on what media should do when the President consistently lies. This was written in light of the defeat of incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, who still denies and refuses to concede publicly to his opponent, President-Elect Joe Biden in the recent contest.

For one, few influential netizens easily accused GMA Network’s Palace correspondent Joseph Morong of being a mere transcriber sifting any trash before posting the summary than as a journalist with guts like his fellow, Atom Araullo (who ventured now in documentaries), has tweeted:

If one could put an American comparison, they want someone more of a Jake Tapper or a Jim Acosta over a Chanel Rion.

 

Back to the Question! (Conclusion)

With these challenges transpired and finally manifested by the cases and arguments from different faces of the dice (instead of a coin as it has just two), are we overentertained and underinformed?

We cannot make a judgment; we all understand what has happened. Like what Anime Kabayan (a.k.a.) Marlo Magtibay said ahead of us, the answer is now up to your discernment.


 

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Photo courtesy of N3Con.com

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