I have been writing columns since I was appointed editor in chief of my high school paper. Since then I have realized the important role columnists in particular and the media in general play in society. As pointed out by this papers editor in chief in her Facebook post, “What’s the use of being in media when you are not free to expose the truth?”
We sway public opinion, affect peoples’ lives and news make public officials uneasy on their seats of power. We are the court of last resort for those who have exhausted all the possible remedies when confronted with problems that they are hapless to solve themselves. They believe that exposing injustice, apathy, inaction and corruption through the media is the best way. The right to seek redress for grievances is a right of every citizen as well as freedom of expression is protected by the Philippine Constitution.
Everybody has a right to their respective opinions and a media institution, this newspaper cannot just ignore much less suppress the complaints being texted in the texting page just because it is negative to the powers that be or to the people at the City Hall nor the Capitol. Neither it is not the obligation nor does responsibility of media to heap praise on government.
The media, is unofficially called the Fourth Estate after the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary. It is the watchdog not for being a fault finder or muck rocker but as the voice of the people whose continued patronage as readers, listeners, viewers and surfers is the reason for being, the rationale for which media exist. To serve the people. That is not true with many in government.
Newspaper columnists and commentators are expected to dish out their opinions on an issue, give their analysis to encourage people to think critically and make ‘educated’ decisions for their lives. ‘Praise’ releases are reserved for the public information office not in the opinion pages of newspapers. That is what they are being paid to do.
It is not the obligation of the media if the public officials are inefficient and remiss on their duties. Neither is it media’s work to cover for them. What the media is mandated by its assumed ‘calling’ is to tweak government of what is failed to do. And why should we write about and praise public officials if they do what they are mandated by reasons of their positions because they are being paid by public money precisely to do their jobs of serving the public?
The media, especially in this country should, or to use a much abused cliché, “afflict the un-afflicted”. So, bring it on.
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