Rappler journalistic ethics: modern or just plain bad?

Rappler 02

I will be doing several articles about Philippine media. Philippine media play a huge role in shaping the Philippines. I believe their output too often works against the well-being of the nation. So I figure it is time to push back against the press for contributing to strife and instability.

The Rappler story I will dissect in this blog offended my sense of what is proper in journalism ethics. It is just one article of many that I believe distort the Philippines negatively.

My sense of journalistic ethics was developed during studies to obtain a Masters Degree in Radio and Television Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, including a stint with the Broadcast Standards Department at CBS Television which formed the foundation for my thesis on audience response to television content.

But it could be true, it could be true . . . that I am simply outdated in what I believe to be proper ethical reporting. Maybe today’s reporting has adjusted to the ease and speed of electronic communication and so new standards have come into play. If I have it wrong, please let me know how the new ethics work for the well-being of democracy and the people living under democratic rules.

Journalism ethics around the world

Democracies around the world have crafted a set of ethical principles for their media to follow in reporting the news. Here are two of the most basic principles, in my words:

  1. News reports are to be factually accurate. Opinion is to be relegated to a separate and clearly identified section of the publication or program.
  2. Media reporters are to report the news, not insert themselves into the story or influence its outcome.

You can read more about journalism ethics at Wiki [link to Wiki report on journalistic ethics], but I will mainly focus on these two principles.

A Rappler case study

Rappler is a prominent online news publication in the Philippines. It has wide ranging resources including staff reporters, news feeds from around the world, and experts from the field of education, business, law, entertainment, technology, and other topical areas. The publication is timely, topical, broad-ranging and welcomes commentary about the articles in its discussion threads.

The article I will be discussing ran under the News header on July 27, 2014, the day before President Aquino was scheduled to deliver his 2014 State of the Nation Address. The reporter, Ayee Macaraig is a Rappler staff reporter. The article headline read:

“What next for Aquino and Congress”

I would suggest that you read this article before I comment so that you have an independent view about it. [Link to “What next for Aquino and Congress’]

Sources for the report

The following people were cited as sources or quoted within the article:

  • Benjamin Tolosa Jr, PhD, an associate professor of political science at the Ateneo de Manila University
  • Gladstone Cuarteros, assistant professor at the De La Salle University political science department
  • Senate finance committee chairman Francis Escudero and Senator Bam Aquino
  • Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara
  • Department of Budget Management Secretary “Butch” Abad
  • MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal
  • Senate President Franklin Drilon

Furthermore, 18 other Rappler articles were referenced as the authoritative source of many of the findings reported in this article. Whether they are authoritative sources or opinion pieces is beyond the scope of this blog. I did not link over because it is my guess that readers would generally take the cited information in the subject article as authoritatively correct, and only click on a link if it seemed to be of interest. They would not go through all 18 links.

The main part of the article represents direct quotes from professors Tolosa and Cuarteros as well-read and observant academic authorities on Philippine arrairs, and their quotes are interwoven with references to what the cited government people have said.

The news reporter frames the article with her own comments.

Reporter Macaraig’s framing of the story

The following are a few of the reporter’s comments in the story, along with [my occasionally acerbic response italicized in squared brackets]:

  • It’s been a year since the pork barrel corruption scandal and one Janet Lim Napoles tarnished Congress with plunder. Next came the furor over the legality of the administration’s spending program, this time putting the presidency under fire. [More accurately, the president is under fire from the corrupt, leftists, political opponents and those who are uninformed by the press as to the benefits DAP gave the Philippines. It is sensationalist to characterize the presidency as broadly under fire when most people support their president. The simple qualifier “by some” or “by critics” is sufficient. Also, to be ethically correct, “alleged” should be inserted in referring to Janet Napoles’ plunder.]
  • How should a leader claiming to be a reformist president push for his legislative agenda after people’s disgust over patronage politics? [“People’s disgust” is a pejorative conclusion drawn from a separate article; the framing suggests disgust with Mr. Aquino and that is just plain factually wrong. This is common in Filipino news reporting, to leverage emotions with false statements. Again, the simple qualifier “some” or “critics’ disgust” would have made the statement true.]
  • Post-PDAF and DAP, Rappler takes a look at the challenges for the presidency and Congress in the year ahead, and the lessons from the failure of politics as usual. [The Philippines is a political success story; why does the writer insert an editorial opinion that the Philippines is failing? This is representative of the way the Philippine press persistently goes negative, thereby, in union, undermining the stability of the nation for the sake of jazzing up readership circulation. It is an ethical violation, a form of intellectual corruption.]
  • The President is bullheaded in his belief that he did no wrong with DAP, a stimulus measure his lieutenants call “innovative governance.” He continues to challenge a Supreme Court ruling declaring key acts under the program unconstitutional. [Ahahahaha. It is factually reported that the President is bull-headed. I presume the author consulted a psychiatrist to garner this fact and merely failed to cite her source. I would add that I personally agree the President is bull-headed, and that is a strength that keeps him from buckling under the pressure of the considerable negativity thrown at him. My synonym to bull-headed is “determined”. Rather like his bull-headed father.]
  • With Aquino’s unprecedented popularity taking a hit, his second to the last year in office will be grueling, especially in getting Congress’ support with not as much pork to dangle to its members. [“Taking a hit”? “pork to dangle?” Why not just report how much his popularity declined? “Taking a hit” is a loaded expression that suggests the decline was severe, yet the President remains one of the most popular leaders of all time. The idea that the President can’t “dangle pork” is tantamount to suggesting the President can’t get work done unless he bribes people. What a horridly nasty implication.]

Each individual ethical lapse listed here is minor in its own right. But what the sum of the lapses does is shape the article to suggest that this is a presidency in crisis, another case of failed politics caused by a pigheaded leader who dares to confront the Supreme Court (a routine, legally permissible step when there are disagreements), resulting in a collapse of his popularity. And he will struggle because he can’t bribe people.

As written, the article deserves to be moved to the opinion section, for, as news, it “reports” as if the nation were in crisis. It is not. The Philippines is financially, socially, and politically stronger than it has ever been. This can be factually checked by looking at Philippine performance on various global ratings.

The Philippines has a sterling president who is getting opportunistic criticism from specific sectors with axes to grind: political opponents, crooks, leftists AND a sensationalizing press. The President is strong, self-assured, well-motivated, and a capable chief executive.

The professors who provided the context for the report were balanced and circumspect as educators are inclined to be. Their main focus was patronage politics. Rappler became a party to the making of the news by making the President the main subject, distorting the facts and framing them with negative judgments.

Rappler’s “Mood Meter”

Rappler lets readers indicate their “mood” in reaction to all stories. This is done to gain reader engagement with stories and to make the stories more meaningful to all. Unfortunately, it is an “emotional poll” which has no valid statistical foundation for we have no idea if those indicating a mood are representative of readers or the general population. I never indicate a mood, so the mood of readers of my ilk are completely ignored.

rappler 01

The Mood Meter may have influence beyond curiosity as Facebook recently proved with a study about “emotional contagion”. In response to the “mood” of ads, positive or negative, the audience mood also shifts in that direction, positive or negative. How much more so for the content of news reports?

This news report made 31 percent of its readers angry.

Any idea why?

Is Rappler working for truth in presentation or drama?

When readers see a story that makes others angry, we can bet that their own anger will be raised a notch in righteous justification. I think the Mood Meter is actually a mood amplifier, and to the extent that anger or dissatisfaction is the slant on most stories, it actually contributes to the general negative and critical tenor we saw reflected in the article itself.

Perhaps my next study of Rappler will be to understand the mood output better in overall context. But, for sure, disciplined journalists would shriek with horror that editors are using biased reader views as content or output for what should have been a factual report.

And they are in fact making Rappler a part of the news by employing a tool that magnifies emotional engagement.

Back to ethics

We know there has been a gross breakdown in the ethic that news is factual and not opinion both in the US and Philippines. Media outlets such as Fox News start with a political slant (pro-Republican) and many news programs bring in opinionated “experts” to add depth (and emotion?) to the regular dry factual reports. They often pack a bias.

Have we given up on facts and objectivity? Is the new ethic that analysis is itself news?

Electronic media allow quick easy reporting, cheap fact checking, and active discussion. There is sometimes a balance through a variety of different views, and sometimes one view is pronounced.

Have we given up on objectivity in reporting in the belief that reactive opinions eventually form a factual balance on its own?

It seems so . . .

But I think a lot of reporting is simply lazy, unprofessional or pursues agenda rather than high-ethics reporting.

For now I will merely conclude that I think Philippine media are too often a part of the news in the Philippines. Rather like they inserted themselves in the Hong Kong bus massacre to bad ends, they insert themselves daily in a constant grinding down of the Philippines. It is hard to form positive views of the nation and its leaders when so much negativity is mainstreamed in the press.

When ethics erode, we would be advised to be wary and watchful, not get unduly angry, and not form conclusions too quickly.

And we ought to be critical of media when they are not doing their work ethically. They like negative? Here, have some . . .

83 Responses to “Rappler journalistic ethics: modern or just plain bad?”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    I think Rappler suffers from the greenness of its staffers, there’s just too many of them that need seasoning first. What I would like to see is the hand of experience manifest itself – like Maritess Vitug and others who can give it more justice.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that it is just a few notches above campus journalism. Which should not be the case.

    And the new format presents too much for the reader. Where did my favorite science column go?

    But I like their wide coverage of topics and the occasional gem in the thought leaders column.

  2. jcc says:

    Philippine press is rambunctious.. Rappler is representative. It is pro-Carpio too. Since Justice Carpio takes the lead in rebuking the President on DAP, Rappler was dancing to the tune too. I am glad we have the blog sites which offers alternative to well-entrenched media.

    • Hi JCC,
      We are not pro-anybody. We try to look at all sides. To your point on Justice Carpio, you may want to take a look at this article where our investigative team pointed out that the High Court also violated its own rules on the DAP. http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/64920-did-sc-flout-budget-procedures

      • jcc says:

        Hi Gemma; I know Rappler to be level-headed, but I took Joeam’s word for that it had some slant these days. I noticed also in the past that it shows partiality to Justice Carpio and it was my fault to ascribed partiality to J. Carpio as something to worry about, when in I admire the jurist himself and willing to give him a pass card because of his resolute and conscientious stand against GMA’s attempt to enlist the court’s subservience in the past. Though the jurist’s stand recently on DAP shattered my admiration for him because he was wrong this time.

        I read the article objected to by Joeam and my personal assessment was that it was a fair analysis of what is going on, except when it says that PNOY was bullheaded which from my own understanding is equivalent to being “unreasonable” and that his popularity took a hit, thereby giving credence to the survey without proper validation.

        Surveys from my perspective are political tools and play the same role as media network whenever they want the public to behave in a particular way for their own sinister agenda. They want a bandwagon to move in a particular direction by giving the public a mirage of the wagon and misled the unsuspecting to ride in it.

      • jcc says:

        Okay Gemma, I take back my words.

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahaha, lost your case, eh?

          • jcc says:

            hehehehe… Rappler has some articles that are not mainstream… But I still agree with u Joeam that the article you commented on was not entirely ideal journalistic output — because of the opinion in it…but from someone who had been in that business many years ago, a journalist’s opinion on the issue is what make the report interesting– if he happens to have the same opinion as his readers, the latter appropriate it, otherwise the readers convulsively react to it…

      • SeebeyondINC says:

        What about your reports about the Iglesia ni Cristo? Are they not biased? You put more efforts on the OTHER SIDE!

  3. Hey Joe!

    Long time no see on the comments section. Victor here.

    I’m not directly involved with the writing here (as my purview is tech, more or less), but I’m just dropping by before bed to say I’ve read this, and will reread this, and will come up with something resembling coherent thought when I wake up tomorrow.

    Just a question though regarding the ethics you wrote… this is a different semblance of ethics from what I know it, as I remember ethical actions being about how to act when situation X arises.

    For instance, ethical action for being given a bribe is to not take it. That sorta thing.

    Isn’t there a more accurate word that can be used other than ethics in this case, or is journalistic ethics really what you’re describing, because I’m having trouble consolidating the ideas in my head, is all.

    Anyway, cheers and good evening!
    -Victor B. 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, Victor. I wondered if this article would shake you out of the woodwork. 🙂 On ethics, it can be a way to respond when a given situation arises. I use it in the sense that most professions have rules of how to work in the best interest of the profession and clients. They can be either “dos” or “don’ts” but are generally summed up to develop a sense of honor about behaviors. So most organizations pride themselves on good ethical behavior. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, and other professions have voluntary rules they abide by or risk self-punishment (law association punishes lawyers, for example, rather than the police doing it). Ethical interpretations are much more tightly applied in the US. Here, they are looser, I think. Ethical considerations would never allow a convicted plunderer to run for office, and the three senators accused of plunder would have been suspended long ago to preserve the integrity of the senate as a law abiding law-making institution.

      Ethical journalism keeps the news factual and trustworthy.

  4. Bert says:

    “As written, the article deserves to be moved to the opinion section, for, as news, it “reports” as if the nation were in crisis. It is not. The Philippines is financially, socially, and politically stronger than it has ever been. This can be factually checked by looking at Philippine performance on various global ratings.”—Joe America

    My simple question to Mr. Victor Barreiro Jr: Is Joe wrong about ethics as per your definition of ‘ethical actions’ by that statement of his? I would be glad to know your take on this if you’d be kind enough to oblige me. Thanks.

  5. pussyfooter says:

    i don’t mean to pick any fights, but srsly, should we be worried that someone who is “from Rappler” appears unfamiliar with “journalistic ethics” as a term? Because yes, sir, it exists.

    Totally agree with Mr. America here. I am continually surprised that Miss Vitug apparently heads Rappler, because it often doesn’t look like anyone with any sense is in charge. The typos and glaring grammatical errors alone…

    Rappler is probably the most aggressive media outfit in our midst these days–all the more disheartening that it’s so blatantly unethical so frequently. I haven’t been reading much local print journalism lately but it seems to me PDI does have its biases but at least has the sense, usually, to label them properly.

    • Joe America says:

      I read Rappler religiously, and I think they do a superb job in publishing a wide range of thoughtful pieces. Rappler is not the only culprit in this arena of “negativity toward the Philippines” that seems to emerge naturally, or culturally, within a lot of journalism articles. It is not through intent, always. (Sometimes it is, like at some Manila papers or Fox news). Mainly I would like the editors to think about what an accumulation of negativity does to attitudes toward the Philippines. The subject article was simply one example drawn from one paper, and for that reason was unfair to the writer. But I have to start somewhere.

    • When Maria Ressa heads ABS-CBN News Department – negativism is at All Time High – now she own’s Rappler. I’m not surprised at all of the exaggeration in rappler. Opinion is not a news… ^_^

  6. Bing Garcia says:

    Joe, I am so glad you are here.

  7. chit navarro says:

    Rappler used to be the 1st site I go to for my news summary for the day. Now, I go there only to check on the views of some of their “Thought Leaders” opinions. And I am missing Maritess Vitug’s columns. It’s been a long time that an article of hers was published in Rappler.

    Rappler’s headlines always border on the negative and if one reads through the news, the writer seems to just mix in the opinions of their sources and put a nega title on the article, at the bottom inserting his/her opinion. Just like the Filipino chop suey – a mixture of everything and then call it a news article.

    This blog and that of Raissa plus the Professional Heckler give a more in-depth analysis of the current news.

    • Joe America says:

      The “chop suey” formula does seem to be pretty standard for original news reports. I sometimes wonder about the financial capacity of Rappler, as it is mainly privately funded, and I wonder if the original idealism is running out of steam. Therefore, no Vitug columns. And the content leans more on experts or guests than original reporting. There isn’t much of a field force. So we get “plug and play” journalism.

  8. josephivo says:

    Strange, I did as you said and read the Rappler article first. It was SONA / news related, and it was clearly an opinion, about where we are and where we should go. I had a positive feeling, “the Philippines today is a new country, thanks to the executive but many politicians are still in the old country”. “The President raised the bar considerable and should not be fearful for the new heights he achieved”. It was rather easy to read but it missed your language virtuosity.

    Then I started reading your comments and got lost. E.g. ‘furor over the legality’, the word furor gives me a clear hint that it did not come from his friends or neutral observers but from critics, do you really have to slow down the reading by being more specific about the critics? ‘The scandal tarnished the congress’, were to add alleged? Alleged scandal? No, a scandal created by alleged wrong doings of some congress men? Can’t you cut these unnecessary, quite obvious additions and still be ethical?

    May be I read Rapplers article in such a positive way because of comments made by Marcelo Guigale of the World Bank, expressing his optimism on the Philippine politics, shifting to content, budget discussions and roles and responsibilities away from a shear popularity contest. This Rappler article was another proof of that.

    But I agree more than 100% that the Philippine press still lives in the ‘old country’ were trapo’s line journalist pockets, where Mariano is a lonely prophet. I only didn’t taste it in the Rappler article you mentioned.

    • Joe America says:

      Very good, I’m glad you did that, and your reading correlates with the 59% of the audience who said they were in a “happy” mood upon reading the article. I confess to being prickly about the failure, intentionally or otherwise, of so many Filipinos to find the enthusiasm and excitement of what their president has done. The two comments that irked me were “failure as usual” in reference to the way Philippine government works, and “bullheaded” as a factual assessment of the President. I’m not sure what people expect SUCCESS to look like, but to me it looks a lot like Mindanao peace, upgrades to S&P ratings, new roads and airports and classrooms . . . bickering is what we do, as people, and as politicians. That is not the essential character of the nation. The essential character of the Philippines is getting upgraded in a major way and Mr. Aquino is the driver for that.

      When I start to read enthusiasm and pride, rather than crabby divisiveness, in the mainstream press, I’ll become far less prickly.

      • Hello Joe,

        I have been personally following your comments on Rappler. Interesting that you picked that one story to represent the body of work of the entire organization. Interesting too that you did not comment on that story’s comment thread.

        Interesting to me because we often did that kind of reporting when we were still Newsbreak. It involves synthesis of various views. It’s not opinion in the sense that the author herself did not express her own opinion or rely on her own expertise. So you cannot put it under views. It’s a form of in-depth reporting that many respected news organizations abroad also use.

        Are we saying then there is no room for synthesis as a form of reporting in journalism? That to present a synthesis of various views is already making an opinion, hence is unethical to categorize with other news stories?

        The article it takes off from something that happened at the macro level–the surveys (Pulse and SWS) do show that the President’s ratings dipped tremendously following the DAP ruling. That the President’s ratings are at an all time low is fact.

        Are we saying that is no cause for concern for this administration?

        I noted this part of your blog: “As written, the article deserves to be moved to the opinion section, for, as news, it “reports” as if the nation were in crisis. It is not. The Philippines is financially, socially, and politically stronger than it has ever been. This can be factually checked by looking at Philippine performance on various global ratings.”

        I reviewed the article several times to see what prompted you to say this. Nowhere in the story does it imply that the Philippine nation is in crisis.

        The nation is not the Aquino administration. The survey groups track down approval ratings of administrations all the time. And the point of at which the administration’s popularity dipped significantly is always noted and reported by the media. Is that wrong?

        The report says this dip happened after the following critical developments: the pork barrel scam which sparked public outrage, and the fact that the Supreme declared the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program as partially unconstitutional. These are facts.

        Why is this critical? Because this administration won largely due to its campaign for “Tuwid na Daan.” It presented itself as the alternative to ‘corrupt’ rule.

        Are we saying it’s a coincidence that the approval ratings dipped so after this juncture, ergo not ethical to string those developments together as parts of an ongoing discourse in a news report?

        Please note that the negative comments on the above are not just on Rappler. Certainly, they are not just in the mood meter. Which is why I am wondering why the mood meter is suddenly being questioned here again. The negative comments are in many other major news websites and in the social media. The mood meter merely visualizes the moods. It clusters people inputting the same emotion together. It summarizes the dominant mood in a snapshot.

        Does visualizing amplify that emotion? If you ask me, if I see a story showing a mood that does not represent my views, I would react by voting my own views and telling those who feel the same way I do to vote as well. And we have seen that dynamic at work day in and day out. Are you saying there is no room for that dynamic in news?

        It’s funny because people cite the mood meter when they agree with it and criticize when they don’t. But that is a peril we journalists have to face every time we write stories.

        Finally, and most importantly, and this is why I wonder why this story was the one you focused on: the story tries to present what the administration can do to overcome this low point. And it does so by asking the experts. It was not the author, not Rappler, that spoke. It is several men whom you yourself listed here.

        Are you saying doing that is already opinion and putting this article then in the news section unethical?

        • Joe America says:

          Gemma, thanks for the well-expressed defense of the article. Let me address some of the points you make and questions you ask.

          I needed a starting point for a series of article dealing with negativity in the news. So I picked this one. There was no other reason. I like and appreciate Rappler. All the better reason to start with Rappler for a series of articles on negativity in Philippine news.

          I did not even think of analyzing the comments. That would have been a nice addition to the blog, and thanks for bringing it up. There was no ulterior motive in not addressing the comment thread.

          I’ll concede that analysis is proper as news. Indeed, it can give understanding to the facts, or establish the context in which the facts make some sense. I do have concerns about hidden agendas or analysis that is not objective (my next media article about an Inquirer editorial will address this).

          Yes, there are things to be concerned about for the Aquino Administration, as individual issues kept within the framework of them as being individual issues, and not as the whole of the Administration’s work. This gets right to the point. I see again and again in news reports and comment threads that disagreement over one thing – DAP for instance – is taken as representative of the whole administration. Or if there is one bad guy, they are all bad guys. That kind of generalization to the whole from the specific. And it is that tendency that undermines Philippine stability and people’s belief in and trust of their government. This article does that by characterizing the government as broadly under fire, representing the failure of politics as usual, and with a bone-headed president objecting to the Supreme Court’s finding, which is totally his legal right.

          No, no, no. DAP is a method the Administration applied, to good ends, to transition from a “favor-based” budgeting method to a “needs based” budgeting method. Making it tantamount to an administration in crisis is extreme emotionalism and damaging to the Philippines. So if analysis is to be a part of the news, the analysis ought to be good, balanced, and not sensationalist.

          The negativity indeed is not limited only to Rappler. That is my main concern.

          The President’s ratings are fickle, going up and down as people bounce off the news as they see it reported. It will likely go up as a result of the SONA. The ratings to me are a reflection of popular sensationalism than anything substantive about the Aquino Administration. The Administration is just doing work, and how it is interpreted is largely left to the sensationalist press. I would add, it is not just JoeAm who recognizes that the press in the Philippines is based on emotion, thin reporting, and sensationalism of the news.

          The Mood Meter needs more than this discussion thread for me to address it thoroughly. You ask reasonable questions. As I said in the blog, I’ll tend to it separately.

          I think the article core was good, and the framing bad, with the author using loaded words to paint a negative picture. The educators were more circumspect. Are you saying that “bone headed” is an accurate analytic term? And that politics being a failure as usual is a correct characterization of the Aquino Administration?

          1. News
          2. News analysis
          3. Opinion

          I will concede the article is worthwhile news, as analysis, for what the educators reported. I believe the framing analysis was unduly negative and does not accurately portray the stability of the Philippines or good deeds of government. To the extent it does not portray those strengths, it undermines them.

          Do you disagree with the main contention, that there is a lot of negativity and conflict (blood in the water) reporting in the Philippines, and it prevents people from feeling positive about their nation?

  9. Nadine says:

    Hi Joe, your article was so spot on! Finally, someone calling the Philippine Press on its more misses than hits.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m glad you appreciated it, Nadine. It is indeed in the balance, and the correct tilt on the scale would be that the Philippines is a thriving democracy and its government is doing a LOT of good things.

      • Nadine says:

        Right. However, negativity and sensationalism sells. No one is interested in the good things that government is doing. The Filipino psyche is hardwired into thinking that government, no matter the evidence to the contrary, equals corruption.

  10. Gerardo Vergara says:

    We must not forget that negativity sells and it sells BIG, especially in these times of extreme ‘needs’ to advance in those highly competitive fields of reporting news or whatever people read as news..

    And we could see that it not only happens here; the practice become more rampant with the emergence of players with deep pockets anywhere they may be.

    It would be naive to think that the Marcoses are still lying low when they could clearly see that there ‘d only be one left standing from the opposition to carry the torch, so to speak. And they clearly know that working this early to undermine a popular president is the surest passage back to the power that they always say was taken from them.

    And this family and their supporters had not lost their keen perception and wily ways about how to do it through these so-called press, mainstream or otherwise, that will write anything for a fee.

    The handsomest, the better.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, negativity sells big time, which is why a lot of radio and television stations and newspapers in the US take the Rush Limbaugh approach to cranking up circulation. Attack, attack, attack. The US can deal with it because it is mature and anchored by good values and has reasonably good reporting. But the Philippines is just a few years away from a coup approach to running things, as you cite with regard to continuing Marcos dreams, and the primary thrust should be stability, not unrest. At least the media might recognize the achievements before criticizing a specific deed. Keep the context healthy.

      • Killer says:

        Sensationalist Negativism sums things up well, in my view.

        How else can you explain De Castro and Enriquez almost showing disappointment when informed by someone from PAGASA that Super Typhoon Wrath of Godzilla thankfully changed its course and will not hit the country?

        The other night I was at my neighborhood sari-sari store and chanced upon the owner watching the nightly news. I could not tell which channel it was–jars upon jars of candy blocked my view, I missed the station ID, and, with 2, 7, and 5 changing field reporters on a daily basis, I could not say the voice heard was familiar to me.

        Anyway, Mr. Reporter introduces his piece as Malacanang submitting its proposed budget for 2015 to Congress. Immediately after stating the budget amounted to Php 2.6T, he casually mentions that 2015 is when the campaign for the 2016 election begins.

        Talk about insidious. No context, no facts, no intent to actually inform.

        You gotta hand it to the bastards, though–they’ve got the formula nailed down.

        Event (national importance not a prerequisite) + a slant + six thousand experts to back up slant (never mind if the statements of five thousand were taken out of context) + pandering to the viewing public + condescension masked as concern + another slant + comments from the “common tao” + comments from the “socio-civic action and interests groups”…ahem + snide remarks from anchor-on-duty = primetime gold.

        • Joe America says:

          Ahhh, my what a beautiful characterization, Killer. De Castro dismayed that there was no destruction. Insidious (wonderful word; the word of the day) news of no context or facts. A tried and true formula. The last paragraph is classic. Thanks.

  11. ivyemaye says:

    You are at it again Joe “leftists”…being one myself from a well established centre left English tradition I do get a little tired seeing this. If you want bias just watch the righist media in your country like Fox News.

    I quite like Rappler. As a rule i try and get news in from a variety of sources. For world media the BBC CNN and Al Jazerah. Some where in there some where there is some truth.
    We all come with cultures and backgrounds.
    I feel that the media herein the Philippines is more open than that say of the UK now where a “rightist” agenda prevails. I blog regularly on the Guardian site. But I get the feeling that even that paper of the Liberal Centre Left is being pulled to the right.

    I am no expert on this but the radical ferment during Cromwell’s period in the UK, combined later with the intellectual input from France led today to what is the US constitution. Much of that seems to have been high jacked by the rightist raving tea pot party .loons in your country.
    Again, if I recall Cromwell was pretty much the first Stalin, and “dealt” with the radicals. may be that is why some went across to the US.

    You before a reasonable argument then spoil it. I wonder if this is some US hang up. We Europeans see things differently. Yes there is extreme left and extreme right. Ultimately there is little difference between Stalin and Hitler. Much of the success of Western Europe was the fusion of centre left and centre right thinking.

    Please define “leftist”…farr too Fox news “rightist” for me!

    • Joe America says:

      I’m a leftist, too, ivyemaye, and find disgusting what is going on in America with Tea Party takeover of a legitimate Republican Party. My objection is not political, it is . . . ummm, I suppose, psychological, or a matter of national esteem. I simply don’t see enough pride in the Philippines, for all the flack flying about, when considerable pride is warranted. Who o why do Filipinos choose to bicker rather than be uplifted at their national accomplishments?

      Well, a sensationalist press always out for blood in the water is a huge reason.

      I agree the press here are not restrained by government acts, other than a ridiculous criminalized libel law, but the press are also not restrained by ethical values that are standard practice around the world. That is, they don’t restrain themselves and hold themselves to high standards of objectivity in news reporting.

      • Joe America says:

        As I reflect on it, think about the editorial standards of the Financial Times, or Wall Street Journal, or Christian Science Monitor. Where is the Philippine news organization that is respected for its in depth analysis that would bear international scrutiny? The headlines are tabloid, even at top newspapers. Conflict, blood in the water, scandal.

  12. manuel buencamino says:

    Thoughtful and thought provoking analysis, Joe. News reporting can be dry so reporters are under pressure to jazz up their stories. But the problem arises when reporters resort to angling or framing as the means to jazz up their reports. That’s when reports become less informative and more divisive. They become op-eds disguised as news. One can tell whether the framing is intentional or not by looking at the history of the reporter’s reporting. Trigger words – adjectives, adverbs, descriptive phrases – that come up repeatedly over a series of reports are the tell. They reveal whether a reporter is reporting or selling an angle.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks, MB. That would be interesting to follow reporters over a period of time to see if there is a consistency of viewpoint, or spin, or negativity. Maybe I’ll try that.

    • Killer says:

      Does “trigger tone” count? I seem to encounter this a lot: when the reporter appears to insinuate rather than simply tell a story.

      Also a bit tired of how they hide behind “alleged”, “di-umano’y”, and “reported”.

  13. Killer says:

    “But I think a lot of reporting is simply lazy, unprofessional or pursues agenda rather than high-ethics reporting.”

    The same can be said of us, the audience, sadly.

    We are too lazy to think for ourselves so we like our information chewed, processed and then spat out for us. We all have our biases and agendas and the tendency is to seek the mouthpiece that best supports ours. And most unfortunately, for a lot of us, ethics comes with a bowl of rice or whatever the handsome actor says.

    I feel depressed now but I refuse to lose hope.

  14. Lawrence says:

    This piece is worth sharing. Thanks, JoeAmerica. Looking forward to your article on Rappler’s mood meter.

    In relation to that, I often wonder if the mood meter actually represents the collective feeling of readers based on an article’s content or the readers’ feelings on how the article was written. Because in most cases, the mood I generate from reading a Rappler article would result from how it was written and not based on the “facts” it contains.

  15. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Thank gootness, there are intellectuals here to take the bull by its horns. Rappler like all other Philippine newspapers caters to those unintellectual Pinoys. Al Jazeera is better alternative to Philippine Newspapers.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, Mariano. I hope you are well. I’m gonna change the name of the blog to “Society of Intellectuals”. My impression is that Al Jazeera stopped being stridently pro-terrorist and went mainstream, and became influential. And respected. I don’t know if that impression matches with the facts, but it does suggest media can morph.

  16. cha says:

    I think Ms Macaraig’s piece can best be classified as ‘news analysis’, in that it is an assessment of the significance and implications of current political issues and news events on the President’s last two years in office. I think it’s common practice, nowadays, to include news analysis articles in the News sections of both mainstream and social media news portals in many countries, not just the Philippines.

    Even in this light however, your observations and points raised on how the piece has been written still remain valid. Good writing, fairness and having some sort of factual bases for one’s claims, one would think, are all ‘musts’ for any article whether a straight news report, a news analysis, or opinion column, to be seen as credible, or at the very least, readable.

    If I may just add a few more observations of my own though:

    1. The statement “Post-PDAF and DAP, Rappler takes a look at the challenges for the presidency and Congress in the year ahead, and the lessons from the failure of politics as usual.”, I find rather curious. Did Ms Macaraig mean she is representing the view of all of Rappler’s staff and management? How did this come about, if that’s the case? Shouldn’t she have at least provided the basis for such a claim to be fair to both her Rappler colleagues and her readers?

    2. I thought she (or is it all of Rappler then?) was mostly spot on with the challenges that lie ahead for President Aquino, as identified in the piece. Although from a writing point of view, I wish the headers already captured what the challenges actually are, even without having to refer to the following explanatory paragraph. A lot of them read more like items in a to do list for the President and Congress instead, e.g. ‘Grab the chance’ to pass the Bangsamoro bill.’ Like I said, she goes on to explain why this should prove to be challenge for the President in succeeding passages. So maybe I’m nitpicking here but I really just like consistency in what I read. Many issues and conflicting views are often already confusing enough, I don’t need some lapses in good writing to distract me or worse further confound my understanding of what could very well be a good argument that a writer is putting forward.

    3. She also refers mostly to Tolosa’s and Cuartero’s comments in fleshing out the challenges she has identified in the article, which makes one wonder if this is not in fact really their analysis, and not hers. Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to just write up the report on Tolosa’s and Cuartero’s interviews (to give the two proper credit for their OWN opinions) and then Ms Macaraig, if she still wanted to could have added a summary of their main points at the end , and if need be, her own take on what the two have said.

    • Joe America says:

      Very balanced and well-reasoned elaboration on the points raised in the blog. I have come to concede that analysis is proper as news, but it is rather like loaded with “how much do you trust this person doing the analysis”? Are there agendas? So – excuse the American examples – Rush Limbaugh as an analyst is a laugher, but Bob Woodward is worth listening to (Watergate reporter).

      I like your proposed structure that would separate the author’s views from those of the educators. That would have separated the facts from the analysis and avoided the negative spin placed on the facts.

  17. I regularly read Rappler, too…er not that regular nowadays after Ms. Vitug’s pieces failed to appear. Ms. Yolly Villanueva’s , too (I followed her at Philstar, but due to the case filed by Enrile against her, she’s no longer there…I got the same feeling after reading this Rappler case study and also her coverage of the SONA.
    The driver of the company car I’m using to and from the office, is very fond of listening to the news “analyses” over at TV5 radio (Tulfo et al) and at Radyo patrol (Noli de Castro / Ted Failon)… It got to a point where I had to instruct the driver to switch stations as I have enough nitpicking and criticism of the government to start and end a working day. I don’t mind listening to the news and it will be up to me to form my opinion and analysis, but not their negativity thank you…It’s so depressing.. He asks me… you don’t want news, ma’am?… and my answer is… that’s not news, that’s negative opinions…let’s listen to music instead…heck

  18. Hi Joe!

    Sorry for the late reply. Was trying to parse my thoughts properly before I spoke, but I was having difficulty getting the right words. I don’t know how much space I have to write in the comments, but I’ll see if I can get all my thoughts down in one comment.

    Speaking plainly, I can see where you’re coming from, but I also see where Rappler is coming from, and there’s an obvious (yet I think needed) disconnect between the two parties.

    I’ve been quietly reading your posts over the past few months, and your leaning seems to be pro-Aquino and also pro-Filipino. Which is cool. I’m not one who deals much in the politics of the Philippines, but I can certainly support someone who prefers happier ways of expressing the Philippine sentiment.

    On Rappler’s side, I think there’s an aspect of news judgement that comes into play. It’s not exactly ethics, but more of choice of wording when it comes to reportage or in treatment of a story relative to previous reports. What you might call journalistic ethics, so to speak, can be seen as editorial judgement or an editorial position.

    While your case study does point (in my opinion) to certain things that can be improved, there are a growing number of news outlets, especially internationally, who I think have grown more accustomed to a looser working of what you define as journalistic ethics in the spirit of editorial or reporter judgement, pointing to a certain “reality on the ground,” as I see it.

    I’m not going into a full case study, but I will cite something I read recently from the Guardian about the difficulty of being objective when the reality of a situation is in front of you. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/aug/01/journalists-objective-writing-dead-children

    Giles Fraser, in the article linked above regarding writing about Gaza and Israel, writes that “…in the midst of unimaginable suffering, the idea of calm objectivity feels like a desperate attempt to maintain some thin veneer of civilisation protecting us from the total futility of it all. And when Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, comes on the radio, intoning that false, calm sympathy straight out of the PR handbook, I want to scream. And the double frustration is that screaming is generally understood to be what you do when you have lost the argument. Whereas I can’t shake the feeling that, in these circumstances, screaming is the most rational thing to do.”

    He continues, saying, “Being calmly rational about dead children feels like a very particular form of madness. Whatever else journalistic objectivity is, it surely cannot be the elimination of human emotion. If we don’t recognise that, we are not describing the full picture.”

    I think about this in terms of the features Rappler has done for Yolanda or for the Hunger Project, where despite the government’s best efforts, people, families, and entire communities can still slip through the cracks. My fellows at Rappler likely see things differently, and judge things differently than you do, and are trying to remain factual while adding a bit of emotional resonance to the proceedings.

    Again, I’m not sure if I’m making sense. I get your point really, but I while I am like you in the sense that I like that very distanced, objective style of reporting, I think there is also value in adding emotional context as well as factual context to a report.

    • Joe America says:

      I think being calmly rational about the situation in Gaza is to scream to Hamas, “For God’s sake, stop shooting those rockets and storing them in the schoolyards. It’s insane.” But then I am an opinion laden blogger, not a reporter. As I wrote a while back, ‘no one mistakes bloggers for journalists.” I appreciate the link, and, more importantly, the point that journalists have a very difficult job. I accept that point.

      Your parsing was excellent, and I appreciate your taking the time to elaborate. I would accept the simple conclusion that “some things about the article could be improved”. If you’ve read the comments, you will note that some do not share my view that the article was unduly negative.

      My leaning is pro-Filipino, and from that flows support for a President who, from my experience at watching American presidents carefully, is absolutely A-one, top of the line. Honest, sincere, well-directed, getting important things done. So why would I NOT be pro-Aquino? I have zero agenda, other than wanting a stable, successful nation for my family to live in. And, my observation is that most of his critics DO have an agenda different than that. So why does the press give such wonderful amplification to the loud-baying hyenas instead of the quiet, peaceful doves?

      But there I go again . . . getting worked up.

      The answer is “circulation”, or “audience”, and there you go. They sell what people buy, so I flip up to Killer’s remark that the people are as much to blame as the press.

      Well, the purpose of the blog is to inspire thinking, and I think it is successful, eh?

      • I like the way you answered about your intentions and pointed out that your interest is just to have a stable country for your family to live in. It just cuts all the sensational issues and gets right to the point which is why would we want to have articles that are factual and not colored by a “journalist” that may have a conflict of interest that fundamentally deviates from the majority who just is “wanting a stable, successful nation for my family to live in.”
        Why would not we be Pro-Aquino when he does his best in fulfilling what we want?

        I believe journalists should have a code of ethics to live by, standards to remember by and body to enforce these standards. Much like the Chartered Financial Analyst’s code of ethics and standards of practice. If there are no system to disincentive ANY people from doing “bad” (i.e. corrupt, biased, etc.) things, then on average, people will do bad things. Moral and ethical incentives are nice to hear and a good boilerplate, but if you do not have incentives to do the good things, we will just have to “trust” journalists just by basing it on their historical output of articles.

        Journalists should have their version SALN’s and disclosures where they get their income.
        But again, when people criticize journalists, they will crow about the freedom of speech, as if this freedom is free. It has costs, and it will cost us much.

        • “It has costs, and it will cost us much if we do not take steps to nudge (and use the recommendations in that wonderful book) everyone to do good.

          Sorry for the typos (can’t seem to edit).
          First paragraph: It just cuts (through) all the…
          Second paragraph: disincentive (disincentivize)
          Third paragraph: and disclosures (disclose) where they get their income.

        • Joe America says:

          And I like your clear, concise statement of why a journalists’ code of ethics is important. It provides clear standards and ENHANCES public trust in Philippine news reporting. And you are right about when criticizing journalists or opinion columnists, the first response is often “we have freedom of speech to say whatever we want, so go away”. Accepting that there is responsibility attached to freedom of speech ought to be ethical standard #1.

  19. edgar lores says:

    On the comments:

    1. Rappler: “Next came the furor over the legality of the administration’s spending program, this time putting the presidency under fire.”
    1.1. Me: The idiom “under fire” means being attacked. I will allow it.

    2. Rappler: “How should a leader claiming to be a reformist president push for his legislative agenda after people’s disgust with patronage politics?”
    2.1. Me: External to the framing, the phrase “people’s disgust” is accurate. I will allow it.
    2.2. It is known that the padrino system has been with us since forever.
    2.3. I might have added, “…people’s disgust with patronage politics in the wake of the PDAF scam.”

    3. Rappler: “Post-PDAF and DAP, Rappler takes a look at the challenges for the presidency and Congress in the year ahead, and the lessons from the failure of politics as usual.”
    3.1. Me: The phrase “failure of politics as usual” – with emphasis on the “as usual” – reveals a decidedly defeatist view and attitude. This is not only negativity, it is cynicism.
    3.2. I would have simply written, “…lessons from the [failures of the] past.” Lessons are mostly from failures although they can be from successes.

    4. Rappler: “The President is bullheaded…”
    4.1. Me: This is definitely pejorative. The term means determined in an obstinate and unthinking way.
    4.2. The President is certainly determined but he is not unthinking.
    4.3. I would have written, “The President is convinced…”
    4.4. An apology from Rappler should be forthcoming.

    5. Rappler: ”With Aquino’s unprecedented popularity taking a hit, his second to the last year in office will be gruelling, especially in getting Congress’ support with not as much pork to dangle to its members.”
    5.1. On “taking a hit”: I’m not sure that “slumping by the widest margin since taking office” is an improvement. It is much of a muchness to me. I will allow it.
    5.2. On “pork to dangle”: Can Congress work without the carrot of “pork to dangle” to mix metaphors? They should be able to… unless the members want to suffer the stick of “brickbats from social media.”
    5.3. But, yes, the phrase insinuates pernicious oleaginous motivation which is totally uncalled for.
    5.4. I would have written… I do not know what I would have written.

    6. The item is clearly an opinion piece, about what the presidency can do in the “year ahead.” I do not know that anyone can write a news item about events in the future. Not unless Rapplers have discovered time travel.
    6.1. But nowadays news and opinion converge on the front page. .
    6.2. The Cuarteros throwaway opinion of “He should just admit he made a mistake” is judgmental and forestalls the SC reaction to the motion for reconsideration. It should not have been used.

    7. The overall impact of this pervasive negativity is desensitization. It would account for the extreme polar positions that we take on issues. However, I would credit this item with its nuanced view of the future of politics and democracy in the closing paragraphs.

    • Joe America says:

      Very nice overlay of your precise analytics on the subject article. Home run accuracy I think. The polarization result of the penchant for negativity is emphasized by Cha’s later comment, below. Negativity, and the polarization of views, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive to the rise of a unified Philippines. And seen it the US, it is ripping asunder the unity which formerly existed.

  20. edgar lores says:

    On the mood meter:

    8. I am angry.

    8. Why? What am I angry at?
    8.1. The subject or part-subject (e.g. DAP) of the news item.
    8.2. The object (e.g. Aquino) of the news item.
    8.3. The reaction of the object (Aquino) to the subject (DAP).
    8.4. The reaction of people (professor or senator) to the subject (DAP) as reported in the news item.
    8.5. The reaction of people (professor or senator) to the object (Aquino) as reported in the news item.
    8.6. The treatment of the author (Ayee) of the news item to the subject (DAP).
    8.7. The treatment of the author (Ayee) to the object (Aquino).
    8.8. The treatment of the author (Ayee) to the reaction of people to the subject (DAP).
    8.9. The treatment of the author (Ayee) to the reaction of people to the object (Aquino).
    8.10. The picture of Napoles in the news item.
    8.11. The picture of Abad in the news item.
    8.12. There’s no cream for my coffee.

    9. So what mood do I click on in the mood meter?
    9.1. Amused. (Check it out – from 0 % to 2 %. Hehe.)
    9.1.2. Based on this statistic, only about 50 readers registered their mood out of a theoretical 430 individual (?) readers who have shared it with others.
    9.2. (At this writing, the sad, afraid and annoyed moods are still at 0 %.)

    10. Aieee!

    • Joe America says:

      9.1.2 is brilliant, and I’m going to go there and punch amused, too. Crank up the humor quotient hereabouts. Thanks for the statistics, and all that anger.

      • Joe America says:

        Okay, “amused” went up to 5%, so I guess my humor is worth more than yours, or you’ve got to put rounding into your equation. And it squeezed angry back down to 28%. I figure if we go about gaming all the mood meter votes, we can make the Philippines a much happier place. Aieeee

        • edgar lores says:

          1. That 2 of us accounts for 5% proves that we are dealing with a very small sample of people who register their moods.

          2. The mood meter is not only spurious as it can be triggered by anything, as I have delineated, but it may also be totally off the mark. I have rarely registered my mood. I may have done it once or twice to “make the Philippines a much happier place.” I recall wanting to use it but being unable to find the equivalent or appropriate button. Given the plenitude of sex-infused articles, the mood might have been “Excited” or “Detumescent”.

          • Joe America says:

            ahahaha, the madman striketh . . . As a former market researcher by trade, and a journalist by education, I can’t relate the mood meter in any way as being factual. Therefore, it is fictional, or, at best, introduces a topic totally unrelated to the article in question, that topic being “why in the world did you press the mood meter?”

  21. cha says:

    Check this out, Philstar just got told off by the CMFR (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility) :

    Deliberate misunderstanding

    POSTED BY CMFR || 25 JULY 2014

    JEERS TO philstar.com for misunderstanding a report, and then carelessly highlighting a comment to support its conclusion.

    Philstar.com published the report “’Booming Philippine economy fruit of Arroyo admin, not PNoy’s”, based on a Financial Times blog post “Philippines: assessing the ‘key man’ risk” by David Pilling. (July 11)

    Philstar.com chose to emphasize the following paragraph in Pilling’s post: “In truth, some of the macro-economic improvements have been the fruit of policy changes outside his administration, particularly at the central bank.

    Although his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was deeply unpopular and accused of overseeing a corrupt administration, much of the improvement in economic fundamentals can be dated to her government.”

    However, the commentary noted a number of reasons for the “stable” Philippine economy and growth. The focus of Pilling’s commentary was the state of economy under the Aquino administration and how the “country’s improved performance” will continue even when President Benigno S. Aquino III, whose programs emphasize good governance, steps down in 2016.

    It would have been better if philstar.com discussed the differences and/or similarities between the economic policies of the Aquino and Arroyo administrations. Without digging into the issues raised by the commentary, the news report did not contribute to a deeper understanding of the impact of government policies on Philippine development.


  22. Cornball says:

    Hi Joe, it’s been a while. I try to steer clear of the local news most of the time because of biased reporting, I’ve been trolling the mountain bike forums instead.

    Knowing who the owners, founders and allies of a particular tv network, newspaper, or news & action site, one can generally predict the content and agenda.

    • Joe America says:

      Interesting that you would say that, Cornball. I’ve just started down that path with my research. I know manuelbuencamino has all that in his head, and once recited some of the ownership, but I can’t find his comment. So I’ve got to do a little work for a change.

  23. Matthew says:

    This is out of topic but 2 days ago, I sensed that Rappler.com is being BAISED on a certain topic


    I tried to comment there being the first to comment. It said awaiting moderation then yesterday there were 3 commenters already. I tried to repost my comment and thought maybe I will try to edit mine and make it more subtle and gentler and not offensive. However, It is still awaiting moderation. Yet the article was updated but neglected my comment to be approved.

    Ok the third time to repost my comment last night(edited again to be the most polite and down to earth wordings while still preserving my point) about the article still they neglected it.

    From the article here are the 2 main points I will take:

    1.”This proposal will not do anything at all nor control the source. They claimed that the best move is to cripple the growing the trade.

    2.As the “Philippines is the net supplier” of child pornography and “Western countries are the net user,” Sy said the “import-export issue” can be dealt with by controlling the source or the supplier.

    They said the Philippines is the net supplier and caters mostly western countries. That is true. However, their proposal is to filter or to restrict access from porn sites with child porn here in the Philippines. I thought the goal is to CONTROL THE SOURCE?

    By doing that, only the locals will be restricted to the within the Philippines. The Western countries outside the Philippines WILL STILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS the websites that Filipino Syndicates put up. On Saudi Arabia, 90% of the time they block porn sites. The locals within the country can not access them but we can outside of it. China blocks Twitter and Facebook yet WE CAN STILL ACCESS THEM FROM OUTSIDE!.

    You can not impose a global internet censorship. This is not how internet censorship works. You can only do this on your jurisdiction. Now the point is, if we filter porn sites, it will always be within and not outside of the country. It does not stop western countries from accessing such sites. So in other words, this proposal will not do anything nor help about the issue. This is could be just a smokescreen. This will just be a stepping stone to exploit freedom of speech and not to combat child pornography that caters foreign countries. Why don’t they just RAID THE DENS! it is easier and will more than likely stop the operations.

    As you can see that is just my point and opinion. There is nothing wrong or offensive about it. Yet Rappler is doing one sided and does not approve this comment.

    • edgar lores says:


      JoeAm is on vacation. Let me attempt to lay out my understanding and see if you agree or not.

      1. Sy said the issue can be dealt with “by controlling the source or supplier.”

      2. By “source” I believe he is referring to the Filipino Syndicates. They are the producers of porn.
      2.1. They earn money by charging access fees to the porn from the end users, the consumers of porn.
      2.2. He may be referring to police action when he talks of controlling the “source”.

      3. By “suppliers” I believe he is referring to the (a) local telecommunication companies (Telcos) and (b) the internet service providers (ISPs). They are the unwitting distributors of porn.
      3.1. He also says the Philippines is a “net supplier” of porn. This does not contradict the above sentence.

      4. Now the porn would normally be sitting on servers owned by the Filipino Syndicates. Each server has an IP address.
      4.1. These servers are referenced and known to the Internet via their URLs.
      4.2. The consumers connect to the sources via the URLs.
      4.3. The URLs are resolved to the IP addresses of the servers by the Internet protocols.

      5. Internet censorship largely works by filtering at different levels – home, company, ISP, Telco.
      5.1. In this case, we are talking at the national level, which would be local ISPs and Telcos.
      5.2. The filters that Sy wants to implement and control would be located in the nodes of the “suppliers” – the Telcos and the ISPs.

      6. By blocking the IP addresses of the sources (the porn producers), the suppliers can effectively cut off access to the porn. This would work both locally and internationally.
      6.1. Therefore, Sy in a way is right when he says this is the method for controlling by the “supplier”.

      7. Perhaps what Sy has not considered is that the sources may shift their porn data to offshore servers. In this case, the sources may upload the porn to these offshore servers and the data would then be available to consumers, both locally and internationally. In this case, access would not be in real-time and would not be interactive. In this case also, local access may be blocked but not international access.
      7.1. There are other methods of overcoming Internet censorship – such as BitTorrent protocol and the use of the Tor Browser or proxies – but I will not expand on these.

      Anyhow, this is my understanding. Forget it if is not helpful. Or if my understanding is incorrect.

      • Joe America says:

        Thanks for the cover, Edgar. The porn business is a lot like the drug business in the US. Do you prosecute the sellers or the buyers, and if the prosecution puts limits on a free internet, is that an acceptable trade-off? I’d guess there are maybe a hundred suppliers of child porn in the Philippines and millions of buyers around the world. You have delineated where the buttons and switches are. The suppliers should be hunted down by any legal means possible. Should the Philippines censor incoming information from other states? How far down the path of China should a state go to control its people?

        I think the solution is an international crime-fighting syndicate that applies huge pressure on states that are lax at enforcing laws against suppliers. Not on censorship. The Philippines is one of those states that would be on the RECEIVING end of a lot of pressure.

        As for Matthew’s other point, is Rappler biased by not publishing his comments? I’d guess they are not, but their screening software is very particular. Use hot words and a comment will never see the light of day, even though in its misleading way, it says the comment has gone to a moderator. There is no moderator of deleted comments, I think. I’ve also had a lot of comments also just disappear. So it is the screening process that is unfair, not the editorial stand of Rappler.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] in the context – not of editorials – but news reports. [See: "Rappler journalistic ethics: modern or just plain bad?" ] It is also consistent with the tenor of Rappler’s headlined sympathy given to the Binay […]

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