Journalists in the front line of elections
ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2019 - 12:00am

Most recently I had the chance to interface with information officers of Davao City. As a journalist, it is but natural for me to ask what media life is like in the regions. It is also part of my job to prudently inquire about the challenges especially in the fight against fake news.

Perhaps not many people know that media persons are basically on call 24/7, leaving us with very little time to plan holidays or get adequate rest. The news we receive is forever in flux more so the duty to diligently look into the validity of reports.

Admittedly, and because we are not perfect, there are moments when journalists commit mistakes. However, there is a serious difference between a mistake that is committed unintentionally as opposed to something made deliberately with the sole purpose of attacking a person’s character and credibility.

The election season is hotter than ever and journalists have an even greater responsibility to follow the rule of conduct and proper journalism ethics.

Going back to Davao City where I was given the chance to express my own insights on dismissing disinformation, I learned that information officers’ main concern especially at the height of elections would be limited to the types of ‘journalists’ who are paid to attack with the very intention of misleading people. To them and to most of us, regardless of our cities, it is very much expected and most mediamen are fully aware of exactly how “common” this scenario may be.

Veering away from this however puts more emphasis on most of the mediamen in this industry whose heart are truly focused on being a formidable part of nation building as communicators whether they be broadcasters, newspapermen, tv news anchors, reporters and commentators.

In a meeting with Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS, we discussed how the election season is most risky for media workers or journalists nationwide. With this said therefore, the PTFoMS together and the PNP are joining forces to protect media practitioners during the elections. Surely we all recall the Maguindanao Massacre where such an experience has further enhanced our partnership with other agencies in securing media practitioners who may be facing danger in the line of duty.

Dirty politics has been one of the biggest causes of threat against media practitioners and the Presidential Task Force on Media Security is committed to protect all those in the industry, not only with the PNP but with the NBI and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Media violence is a serious matter which on the other hand also explains why our standards in this industry are so high. In a way, and as my interchanges with the regions are teaching me, media practitioners are one of the first people that members in a community touch base with especially during a crisis to a point of risking their lives to communicate information to central office.

While standards in our line of work continue to remind us of our purpose, we are truly grateful for the partnerships that commit to help protect journalists especially this election season.

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