By: Ben Emata
Whether one is in an European city, in the Arab world, the American continent, in the Philippines or anywhere around the world, journalism will always be the most dangerous profession. The simple reason is journalists are advocates of truth and following the principle of logic, the matter sometimes hurts. People differs in places and culture. In some areas specially in advance countries, where culture and education existed even before the Philippines was discovered, media has always been the target of ire or irritation. This is so because as guardians of society or civilization, it runs counter to ugly behavior, attitude, misdemeanor, or negative aspect of life.
In any place, there are only two kinds of people that walk around – – the good and the bad. Journalists appreciate the former for their righteousness like being kind, courteous, caring, helpful, religious and the like. On the same manner, it also shun, criticize, despise, ridicule the bad ones, more particularly on negative actuations. The same thing is true to other institutions whether it is business, religious, family, group of people, school and anything.
Remember the old adage that journalists are the soul of the community, the eyes and ears of civilization and anything around it? It is the, “fiscalizer”, or the guardian of government funds and properties and further is part of a democratic society on the issue of check and balance. By this we stand on the edge of a cliff ready to fall.
Without the media, who will safeguard public possessions, funds, etc. from corruption, mismanagement, bickering, stupidity and recklessness? Who will inform the taxpayers and the general society of the state of affairs, the in and out of movements taking place in the environment? How will society know of the things happening in places thousands of miles away like from Europe to the Middle East, America, Canada, Latin America, to the last city in the Philippines and elsewhere?
Have we realized that in this era of the Internet and computer, it takes only a minute or less for people in the Philippines to know what happens in America or in Europe? That modern day media even allow human beings around the globe to watch “live” while the actions are developing? Like any sector in society, the media have scientifically grown too and it brings reports directly to the bedrooms of people anywhere.
What people do not know is how all these things got entangled to hit the cross section of humanity. It certainly, takes a lot of things that truly included and absorbed the lives of journalist in particular. Just because we stand by the truth, the tendency that some people are hit on the head and swim into the lake of shame is definitely not remote. Right away the journalist involved is the target of wrath or anger. Revenge could develop outright that could lead to the author’s assassination.
If killing the author is not achieved for some reasons, the most he gets is being slapped with libel suits. Many journalists have gone to jail while others had to pay thousands of pesos for damages. For a fact, a little less than a hundred journalists in the Philippines fall into their grave yearly – – an statistic that made the country one of the most dangerous country in the killing of journalists. Maybe many Filipinos specially in the government service just do not like to be criticized by the media and this makes journalists as the most endangered specie.
Government officials and employees are most likely the target of criticism because they automatically become public properties being paid with public funds. They are answerable to the people for any blunder committed and have the liabilities to make explanation or whatever. Journalists do not mind about private funds unless the same was stolen that make it news. If it does not falls within the elements of news, it is nothing to us.
To be specific, in the case of Rodrigo Duterte, who was elected president of the country, he acquired a bigger personality than when he was just mayor of Davao. He is an attraction not only by the local media in Davao City but also in the national and international level. It is not surprising, therefore, that he is subject to criticisms, that he now faces and many press people around for that reason who are anxious to listen to his plans and objectives in managing the affairs of the country. While he has the duty to work in a government office, he has the ultimate obligation to inform the public by way of the media what is happening in the state.
Whatever error he commits, honestly or maliciously, he will always be subjected to criticism. His pronouncement that he is killer and a womanizer is not acceptable by any society – – a matter that will not make any journalist smile. It is bad, but bad news is printable as good news. So any moment while writing, we may refer Duterte as the alleged “killer” or just plain “womanizer”. We are safe from libel because it was him who described himself on these words. We know the guy as having a mouth that spits bad words. One time he urged people not to believe all what he said. Many women were angry of some of his words that belittled them. To me it is not frankness but pure and simple joke or recklessness.
In our case writing is a profession, an art and a science to inform and entertain the public. People who indulge in this occupation go to school to be able to express himself, convey legibly and communicate. As he write, there is a sword hanging on his head like that of Damocles while his right foot in jail and his left foot in the cemetery. The risk is horrible and the only thing we get is prestige, honor and dignity. Almost always little pay. We die a pauper but mourned by some people who recognized the job we perform. Society gives us a salute, a thing bestowed upon us for the danger of our job. On our part, we die smiling. BEN EMATA (The author nearly met his creator when he boarded a helicopter that crashed years ago. A hard hitting journalist, he was slapped with a total of 52 cases of criminal libel.)
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