Manila, Philippines – IT does not pay to exaggerate or lie about things nowadays. Technology has seen to that. You do anything blatantly scandalous or illegal and there is that big chance someone will be around to record the act, through a handy mobile phone camera or video cam.
The situation has been succinctly phrased by popular American TV host and comedian Whoopy Goldberg: “Today, you can’t do squat without being seen.“ And of course, through technology, it will only be a matter of time (which can be as short as a minute or a few seconds), before the world knows about what you did.
Information has indeed become accessible. This is true for the average person and more so for those who are in positions of power and prestige.
As a consequence, media no longer has the monopoly of being an information gatekeeper. The big TV and radio stations, the newspapers and tabloids no longer have sole command of the news the public reads, hears, or views on a day-to-day basis.
Newsgathering and reportage have become ultra-democratic through the power of the World Wide Web. Today, we get a continuous barrage of ideas, opinions and information through Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, Multiply, and a hundred other social networking sites that link millions of people across the globe at light speed. There are also countless blogs, as well as personal and professional websites, on any topic one can think of.
True, media practitioners, no longer control the information sky. And because of this, reporters, editors, and columnists could face the same fate as the suddenly obsolete pagers or beta camcorders: relegated to the dustbin of history because they have become redundant. We could, if we are not careful. If we continue to engage in an old, decrepit, practice that some veteran journalists regard as the hallmark of true journalism in the Philippines: Being partisan.
In a time when people can look for news themselves, media can remain relevant by providing the objective, unbiased report or analysis. This is the basic demand for every journalist, whether as a member of the mainstream media or the community press.
These are trying times. Raging issues confront us. Rage, if we must. But above all, don’t be partisan. BE OBJECTIVE, or perish.