The Binay defense team: Philippine media

trillanes-cayetano philstar

Senators Cayetano and Trillanes on attack [Photo source: philstar]

Have you noticed the subtle difference in media reporting about allegations of corruption regarding the Makati parking garage, versus what we witnessed regarding allegations of abuse of presidential discretionary spending (DAP)?

The difference is to be found in the headlines and volume of stories favoring either the defendant or the accusers. The trial is being held in the court of popular press coverage.

The basic difference, when all is added up, comes to this:

  • DAP: the main theme of media is indignity that the President had so much discretionary power and violated the constitution. There were a lot of attack dogs, the corrupt, political opponents, the left. DAP had few advocates. The President played his media hand poorly and was on the defensive the whole time.
  • Garage: the main theme of media is indignity that Vice President Binay is being attacked so aggressively and politically by two presidential aspirants. The overpricing and bid rigging are downplayed. There are only two attack dogs, senators Cayetano and Trillanes. The defense has many mouths.

The power of voices for the “bad guys” is more intense and louder than for the “good guys”. If you know of a major media outlet that is not following this pattern, let me know. I don’t read every publication out there. But I do read the online publications of Rappler and the Daily Inquirer. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Rappler

Rappler did not even publish a story about the Senate hearing in which a city official divulged that bid rigging was common practice in Makati under Vice President Binay (then Mayor of Makati). The information was buried in Rappler’s video news report. There was no lead article or feature write-up. No blaring headline. Nothing. Absolute quiet. Rappler’s main article on the hearing came the following day under the headline: [see UDATE below]

So Rappler’s lead story on the scandal was defense of the Binay position.

And what followed two days later was the following headlined “top story” and lead article with the clear implication that an official in the Aquino administration is tied to corruption:

  • PRC ORDERED SACKED OVER DEAL WITH OCHOA IN-LAW  The Ombudsman says PRC chief Teresita Manzala entered into a rigged contract with New San Jose Builders Inc, which is owned by a brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr”

The story had nothing to do with Ochoa other than this line: “. . . she conspired with a developer closely identified with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.”

Well, you know, this is pretty nasty business if you ask me. Burying the Binay bid-rigging story and featuring a stretched corruption linkage to an Aquino administration executive, framed as if he were intimately involved in the scheming deal.

This led me to the natural question that I posted in my right column the other day: “Who funds Rappler?” The online news outlet is funded by private individuals, but who they are is held in confidence by the editors.

The nasty business is consistent with an earlier blog I wrote that pointed out Rappler ‘s tendency to slant the news in headlines and news reports to denigrate President Aquino with terms like “bone headed” and “flip-flopping” 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 family over the course of the increasingly damaging revelations:

The press play a special role in democracy as the interpreter of acts and information that is beyond the reach of everyday citizens. It is a function that ordinarily is guided toward fairness by ethical guidelines or regulatory mandate. But not in the Philippines. Philippine media are free agents, available for sale to the highest bidder, both at the corporate level (ownership) and writer level (pay for content). Media are self-regulated, and poorly regulated when it comes to the matter of objectivity in news reporting.

It seems to me that we minimally need a “Freedom of Information: Media Ownership” bill, or perhaps even a more robust regulatory function to deal with ethics in journalism and practices such as deceitful advertising of drugs or food products (children’s milk products) that have no known therapeutic benefits. And other negligent, abusive or deceitful practices.

When media blatantly abuse the trust placed in them as caretakers of democracy – or our health – it is time to regulate. They are simply too powerful at shaping public attitudes and the acts that flow from those attitudes. There is a reason the Philippines is not a proud, uplifted nation during an era of unmatched stability, rising global prominence and economic growth: the endless grinding away of the nation’s esteem by antagonists played for cash by mainstream media.

Inquirer

The Inquirer did do a headlined article on the “bid rigging” hearing along with two separate front page articles favorable to the Binay camp:

597x1078xpage-one-09052014.jpg.pagespeed.ic.-eDScq2wJP

On the following day, there was an interesting interplay.

The main news story following up on the “bid rigging” hearing was in favor of the Binay position . . .

. . . and there was an editorial declaring Binay as either corrupt or incompetent . . .

So with the Inquirer, with its cadre of capable editorial writers who are free to speak their minds, we are at least assured of some balance against news coverage which tends to be reactive and not issue-based. By that, I mean that Inquirer reporters will listen to whomever is speaking and write a story to that point, versus writing a more elaborate, objective article about the issue that contains comments from both sides as well as views from neutral observers or experts.

Emotional conflict hits the headlines in a series of opposing one-sided stories that play out against each other day after day. Selling lots of papers, air time, and advertising. Creating lots of division.

Balanced, objective, issue-based stories generally are not a part of Philippine news content.

So the result of the Inquirer’s reactive style of reporting on the parking garage hearings is a day-to-day slugfest with opposing parties seeking – and getting – the attention of a compliant press.

In this environment, the Binay camp plays its media skills well, rolling out a forceful combination of family members, captured press mouthpieces (as Manila Standard & Rappler appear to be), and spokesmen offering up hard, challenging views, all duly recorded and published by news outlets such as the Inquirer with no opportunity offered to those attacked to provide rebuttal. As you will see if you read the “kangaroo’ court article, the senators are not offered a chance to comment within the story on the spokesman’s harsh charge that the Senate hearing is a “kangaroo court”.

The response came the next day (today) when Senator Cayetano challenged Vice President Binay under the headline:

We can expect the Binay camp to respond tomorrow. Separate article. More papers sold. More destructive, divisive political debate and anger-making.

Because the Inquirer uses a core reporting style of reactive sensationalism over issue-objectivity, even that well-regarded publication becomes compliant with the highly effective Binay publicity team. The Inquirer becomes a tool for Binay camp manipulation. A tool for the Binay defense.

Social media to the rescue

I have little confidence that mainstream press can be anything more than lap dogs for the loud.

Social media provide some balance against the sensationalist, reactive – and sometimes agenda-bound – press. But reach is limited. It is not an organized institution.

In a coming report, I will advocate for more organization to the social media base. This base is not susceptible to manipulation by either money or power because it represents the whole of the “Middle Philippines”. Extreme voices that reside there are outweighed by the huge, rational base.

Social media can be an honorable force for good deeds. Right now it is reactive rather than proactive. It might be wise to consider how to change that.

________________________

UPDATE September 9, 2009 5:07 am

CORRECTION. The following story was published on Rappler at 12:16 pm on September 4. It was updated at 10:09 pm. The author was Bea Cupin. There are 17 reader comments.

I regret that after multiple visits and multiple searches for the story, I did not see it. That said, I believe the blog makes important points, so I will not retract it. The points are:

  • Philippine media thrive on sensationalist, personality-based reporting that plays sides off against one another day after day, versus writing issue-based articles with all sides represented.
  • A strong media program by a prominent person or institution can manipulate public perceptions. A compliant media become tools for such manipulators.
  • Editorializing the news through owner influence or writer bias is bad journalistic ethics.

Joe

 

Comments
92 Responses to “The Binay defense team: Philippine media”
  1. Rejtatel says:

    Right on the money joe! Your article i mean, is exactly what is happening.

    And right on the money for the BBC of course, as in money makes the world go round?

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, true in the US, for sure, as well. However, it is also possible to find earnest analytical articles amongst the hype. Like, more good journalism and more in-depth and informative articles. More choices.

  2. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “The press play a special role in democracy as the interpreter of acts and information that is beyond the reach of everyday citizens.” – JOEAM

    The Philippine Press pits Filipinos against Filipinos for one goal only, THE BOTTOM LINE. Fortunately, in the Philippines, “The press play … as the interpreter of acts and information … is beyond the reach of everyday citizens” because of its cost to get and be informed except from those paid demagogues on air.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I get the sense that a lot of journalists here don’t “feel the spirit” of the precious role journalists play in democratic government where free speech is prized. By trampling on objectivity, they trample on the ideal of our freedom to speak and be intelligent.

      I took out your other comment out of compassion for relatives. Like a judge ruling on an objection, I’d say “you might try rephrasing that”.

  3. macspeed says:

    @Joe am
    You are exactly 1000% accurate or say scientifically 6th decimal places accurate that Philippine Media favors who is the HIGHEST BIDDER will have the HEADLINE and stories.
    Money can buy Media and Justice as well in the Philippine, money can also buy’s one’s life just for a price of Ginebra Gin or worst free for those member of the syndicate. One reasons why some journalist ran to FB and Blogs to social media on fictitious name to avoid being targeted to shut their mouth. Money is the root of ALL EVILS!!!
    My wish to Allah is to punish these wrong doers that are trying to target good Journalist who is telling the truth. Some of them were heard as I saw justice implemented on these criminals. I am not a journalist however my comments ON BLOGS some are harsh to read because of my anger, faith is my weapon because I don’t have army nor protector except Allah. These belief were also being practice by most journalist that God Almighty will protect them, however some of them end up in graves. Perhaps they have reached the appointed time.
    No NEWS if GOOD news, market for HEADLINES and its stories is 50% correct and 50% lies. People are born gossiper, however, there are rules to be followed for every nations. Among Muslim, if the bad news is not TRUE, it is considered SCANDAL MONGERING which is punishable under Islamic or Shariah Law. In Philippine, money talks…in growing economy, people who are busy with their life does only care the final verdict, if PNOY is impeached because he violated the Law, people will not buy it. Most likely, people will ask, did PNOY steal money? If there is no news that he is proven guilty of robbing people’s money, then that bad news will not survive, worst, the publisher may end up losing business due to bankruptcy if no people buys their newspaper.

    • Joe America says:

      That is the shame, isn’t it. Money grubbers thrive and investigative truth-sayers get shot. I wish scandal mongering were also considered sinful by Christian values. I didn’t know that was punishable under Islamic Law. As I penned to Mariano, I get the sense that a lot of journalists here don’t feel they are a part of the fundamental values that make democracy work. They are just in a job and trying to get money. Well, even in America some of those values have eroded. But there are still a lot of news purists who “get it” that their role as middle-men between incident and people is very, very important. CNN has a bunch of those news purists. Good for them.

  4. vernon says:

    Hi Joe,

    You encapsulated two topics widely discussed by local media as news drivers of the day. That simplifies everything and may paint a clear picture of the local state of affairs for now.

    One; we have an Executive which appears to be overly cautious and always on the defensive when reacting to the news. The media fall out from DAP and the unwanted consequences for PNoy in defending his adopted Liberal Party and some personalities in it (greatly helpful or not to his administration) may have taken an early toll on his popularity based on recent polling. It seems however that that has lost a bit of its traction on account of some bits of rosy news about the economy’s improvement. This economic news is being put out there by interpretative/analytical reporting by these same polling firms, more prominently by SWS. This development provides for a bit of a balance.

    Two; on the Makati City Hall II overpricing issue, things have turned out differently. It has gained traction. A look at the roster of Inquirer columnists posting opinions negative to Binay suggests that a balance of sorts is being fashioned out by that newspaper’s “light” and “oblique” treatment of what appears to be a real corruption issue. Raissa did her man-on-the-street blog topic on this in her blogsite for today; complete with a video roll out. At the rate this “noise” is going and considering an apparent rise in public opinion that may follow, expect feelers of government audits and Senate invitations for the Binays to follow. Then the frenzy will begin.

    Three; the relatives who came out for Binay that popped up in the news recently was not surprising. Any observer of the last presidential election knew that the Cojuangcos and some of the Aquinos were for Binay. Some of the known election operatives at the Binay camp were Cojuangco/Aquino boys. It was just a matter of course; in the vernacular-“natural lang, di ba?”.

    Four; Binay looks very formidable for now as a presidential candidate only if he is compared to Mar Roxas, that LP wannabe. This may not be the case as time wears on; assuming that is that the City Hall Garage overpricing issue coninues to dominate the news and that somebody other than Mar Roxas is positioned against Binay. Somebody who is Binay’s real opposite. They are at the Senate.

    As for Rappler – it’s trying to build value as a news site but is so disorganized in doing it. Those running its day-to-day affairs are bona fide media persons. The ones in control of the money are entrepreneurs (there’s an Ayala who you can trace to stock exchange players), some fronting for angel (although not that angelic) investors and some real good tech guys just enjoying it while trying to build up their own cred. My take on this news site is this – the more you talk about them the more people will notice. Let’s not talk about them, then. Fact is, let’s not even look at their site.

    Chill, Joe.

    vernon

    • Joe America says:

      One. Yes, the President has a lot of communications people on his staff, but they mainly speak through press conferences during which they are on the defensive. Unfortunately, when the Administration tries to tout good performance, they are criticized for “bragging”. The press quickly goes past positive stories like the Philippines “fastest in the world” climb up the competitiveness ranking. It would only take a few of those stories to change the demeanor of the nation, and the esteem people hold for their president.

      Two. I do hope the tide is changing. More power . . . heh heh.

      Three. After Cayetano’s grilling of the construction lawyer, I came away muttering “di ba, di ba”. He was using it about every sentence. I wonder if the fans are having misgivings about their announced support of Binay (the Aquino uncles & Kris).

      Four. That’s true. I personally think Poe would clean his clock now. Before it was a toss up. But now there is red meat on the debate table for ANY candidate.

      Rapp . . . uh. Who? 🙂

      Chillin’

  5. Way too few principled journalists hold unprincipled colleagues to a higher standard.

    Thanks for this, Joe 🙂 More people should follow your lead and call out biased media.

    —–
    Interesting survey figures: roughly…
    80% approve of Binay’s performance as VP
    40% will vote for him as president

    His approval rating isn’t quite translating to 2016 votes.

    His camp may not be as confident of the numbers as they pretend to be.

    Hence, the need for their friends in media to:
    1) protect/strengthen the VP, and
    2) weaken PNoy’s endorsement power (by pounding on the DAP issue).

    • P.S.
      … and that 40% was BEFORE the senate hearing on the “world-class” parking building…

    • Joe America says:

      “Way too few principled journalists hold unprincipled colleagues to a higher standard.” Perhaps they don’t realize that their own reputations get smeared every time a colleague abuses journalistic ethics. Even senators don’t seem to grasp this point, or what’s an Ethics Committee for? I know ridicule is a popular tool in the Philippines, and I expect to deploy it generously when describing news reporters in the Philippines. And senators.

      • haha, like a “wall of shame”

        – [reporter’s name #1]
        twisted facts in … [article title] [date] [publication] …
        by writing … [spin]
        when it should have been … [fact]

        – [broadcast journalist’s name #2]
        twisted facts in … [news show] [date] [TV channel] …
        by saying … [spin]
        when it should have been … [fact]

        … etc. 🙂

  6. Very nice article, Joe. And very sad too. A scary preview of what will happen in 2016 if/when Binay takes office. What happened to media during the time of Marcos was rape. Now it’s consensual.

  7. Anselm Agustin says:

    Re Rappler ownership, I saw one Manny Ayala, a former ABS CBN reporter. He is a member of the Opus Dei.

  8. Anselm Agustin says:

    Tatad is for Binay. There is also a good chance an anti-PNoy LP member (a member of Opus Dei) is also for Binay. Interesting times indeed. Some people who badmouthed Kris Aquino’s lifestyle in OD circles will one day ascend the stage with the Aquino sisters to campaign for the dark lord.

  9. brianitus says:

    Think of Binay as Robert de Niro’s Al Capone in “The Untouchables” movie. Heck. Think of the Binay family as the Corleones. VP as Michael Corleone, Mayor Junjun as Fredo. Cong. Aby as Connie.. Nancy as Kay. With Trillanes questioning, someone, like a key witness, might commit suicide or just disappear. Alan Peter will get something on his plate that might shut him up.

    Point is, the Binays have built up all that influence since the time of Cory Aquino. Two noisy senators can’t hurt them if they continue to be just “noisy”.If ever the Binays are truly corrupt, they can’t last long by being careless. For one thing, if the VP is corrupt to the bones, please remember that the man is a lawyer. Lawyers don’t get to be lawyers by being sloppy with the details.Add years of experience to that.

    Get damning evidence. Convict. Win. If the vice-mayor-turned-witness can do handstands and cartwheels, maybe the show might be worth it.

    On media:

    The silly angle: Other angles why DAP got more media than the Parking Building. The Binays alleged as corrupt? Like, isn’t that old stuff? How is that still even news? DAP was news since it involved someone who could not do wrong. That was news.

    The cop-out angle: Lack of coverage may also mean that “Manila-centric” media has other things to report. Right now, top of mind are the traffic jams and that MRT issue, both issues are affecting people directly. I mean, at least for Metro Manila. I’m curious as to how people in the provinces are taking the news about Binay.

    Anyway, I think the old guy at the Inquirer summed up how I feel about this whole deal: http://opinion.inquirer.net/78254/up-in-the-air

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, an excellent article by CDQ. I agree the hearing panel is blatantly political in the sense that both Cayetano and Trillanes are trying to carve a path to the presidency themselves. So there is room for criticism there. The politicization has little to do with President Aquino, although perhaps he is enjoying the show. But the facts are pretty astounding as to the outrageous pricing of the building, and that will bring on a full audit starting next week that will presumably get some more facts on the table. Binay is starting to look a little bit like a liar for claiming the building is world class and green, both descriptions denied by the builder. And the admission by a city employee that bid rigging was the standard method to me was a smoking gun. All DOJ has to do is find the guy they held in an elevator for 20 minutes so his company would miss the bid deadline. Also, at some point they have to apply the legalistic method of looking at accumulated wealth against civic income, and weighing exactly how the Binay family got so rich.

      And please do not refer to us seasoned warriors as “old guys”, or I’ll have to start calling you a “young punk”. ahahahaha

      • brianitus says:

        Hahaha. Taking note of that.

        I pray that the DoJ does its job.

        But, I sort of wish that investigations like these had something that is air-tight before they even start. That way, things can go smooth, with no need for drama.

        • Joe America says:

          DOJ is hindered by not having straight access to banking records due to bank secrecy laws. So it is impossible to track big money inflows and outflows. I’m surprised there are no rumblings as to the need to change the laws to allow access upon a court’s authorization. Now they can only get it if a charge is concocted about money laundering. But I rather think this case might go stepwise in a direction that is good for the Philippines. We have to summon up some of that famous Filipino patience.

  10. Bing Garcia says:

    Joe, you are doing something important for this country.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you, Bing. You made my day. I set out to perfect my writing skills and get to know the Philippines, and the Powers that Be determined I should be a nuisance to the misguided. 🙂

  11. Wenceslao Ochoa says:

    The VP is really corrupt.Whe he handled the mmda during erap presidency,it was total failure.That time,they want to make business regarding garbage it was good erap was remove or else corruption will be organized.He cannot explain his wealth but he knew how to cover it.Roxas lost to him because of Mindanao votes.With Enrile besides him ,he knew how to do it.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, it will be interesting to see what the COA investigation will show. Getting hard evidence is the problem. The Vice Mayor’s “belief” that VP Binay gained from the garage project does not mean much. I think he’ll be back to testify later this week. Testimony that bid rigging was standard practice is probably more damaging because it seems like it might be easier to prove. It will be a fascinating next few months.

  12. Dear Joe America,

    I must say that, compared to your other articles, this one disappoints. It does not at all sound like you. It’s such a mishmash of thoughts, it took me a while to understand what you were getting at.

    You usually write with more clarity than this. This made me wonder whether you yourself researched and wrote this or if somebody fed you these half-truths.

    Having said that, let me address fundamental errors in your arguments:

    1. First, since I believe this is the subtext of your entire article, let me address this squarely. I believe we have sufficiently answered the question of “Who funds Rappler”. This is certainly not a state secret as you implied “held in confidence by the editors.”

    Our investors are published in the “About Rappler” page which is very accessible to anyone who cares to have a look.

    http://www.rappler.com/about-rappler/about-us/25724-2013-board-of-directors

    Beyond investments from our core venture capitalists, Rappler earns through creative and innovative, clearly labelled, advertising.

    Our #WHIPIT campaign recently beat social media titans Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in the Best Media Solution – Social Media category in the recently held Spark Awards in Singapore . It also bagged double bronze awards for Best Content Team and Best Media Solution – Online. http://www.rappler.com/brandrap/stories/67596-rappler-wins-spark-awards

    You only have to look at Brandrap, our section for partners and sponsors to see that, as far as sales is concerned, we are doing fairly well compared to other local websites.
    http://www.rappler.com/brandrap

    Which really makes me wonder why people like you continue to badger Rappler–not other news sites out there–with this question.

    Our core team is made up of journalists who have a proven track record of fighting media corruption so please be careful with your implicit underlying generalizations.

    2. Second, how much is your unconscious bias shaping your reality? Let’s start with factual errors.

    Just key in the word “Binay” and you should get a list of all the stories we ever did on the Vice-President, whether “negative” or “positive.” For your reading pleasure, I am posting the link to the search results below:

    http://www.rappler.com/previous-articles?filterCategory540d36edcf445_0=-1&filterCategory=&filterTitle=&filterMeta=Binay&filterDateFrom=&filterDateTo=&option=com_dmarticlesfilter&view=articles&Itemid=1404&userSearch=1

    You alleged that “Rappler did not even publish a story about the Senate hearing in which a city official divulged that bid rigging was common practice in Makati under Vice President Binay (then Mayor of Makati). The information was buried in Rappler’s video news report.”

    You were wrong. Here are the stories you missed:

    http://www.rappler.com/nation/67265-binays-overpriced-building-cakes

    http://www.rappler.com/nation/66751-binay-overpriced-building

    Please note that, if you visited our home page shortly after the hearing, you would have seen that these stories were top story at some point. Which belies your claim that “Rappler’s lead story on the scandal was defense of the Binay position.”

    You said: “No blaring headline. Nothing. Absolute quiet. Rappler’s main article on the hearing came the following day under the headline: VP in Senate probe meant to boost ‘teleserye’ ratings – Nancy”

    Again, you were wrong.

    May I ask how often and at ones of the day you visited Rappler from August 20 and 21?Please mind that a news website is dynamic medium. It changes throughout day. It is VASTLY DIFFERENT from the print medium that you are comparing Rappler with.

    Outside of the site, a bit of observation would have probably instructed you that social media does not visually distinguish between what is TOP STORY and what is just an ordinary story.

    Since you apparently missed them, we organized this list for your reading pleasure:

    Please note that we even took time to profile Makati corruption witness Ernesto Mercado
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/67396-ernesto-mercado-profile

    Mayor Binay concedes ‘possible’ Makati building overpriced
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/66781-binay-hearing-possible-overpriced

    Former employee: Fixing bids ‘usual practice’ in Makati
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/68156-fixing-bids-makati-city

    From cakes to buildings, Binays ‘overprice, chop-chop’
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/66751-binay-overpriced-building

    Makati bizmen urged: Speak up on Binay ‘horror stories’
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/67196-makati-businessmen-binays-challenge

    COA chief: No clearance for Makati building
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/66756-coa-makati-building

    Endorsing Binay endangers Aquino legacy – Cayetano
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/65010-endorsing-binay-aquino-danger-cayetano

    And this editorial in Filipino: Tatanghod na lang ba ang LP kay Binay?
    http://www.rappler.com/views/animated/65821-jejomar-binay-advantage-liberal-party

    Other stories we have done in the past:

    VP Binay lobbied for General Garcia
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/4227-binay-lobbied-for-general-charged-with-plunder

    Dasmariñas Village to guards: Good job
    http://www.rappler.com/nation/46556-dasmarinas-village-guards-good-job

    Of course, the story on the Binays that their critics have been referring to was written by one of our editors, Miriam Grace Go way back in 2001 when Newsbreak was still a print magazine.

    We try as much as possible to be balanced in reporting. But what really rankles me are people who think they have the right to call us out for not divulging who is financing us when they themselves are hiding behind pseudonyms.

    When we write stories, we put our names and faces on the line. We stand by what we say. We disclose.

    You, on the other hand, are using an anonymous avatar instead of your own face.

    And so, let me turn the tables now. What about you Joe America? And who is financing you?

    • Joe America says:

      Gemma, thank you for visiting and critiquing my blog. I appreciate the link to your Board of Directors. Would you mind sharing the percentage of ownership interest held by each Board Member? Thanks. I want to follow up on that, as a separate issue.

      My reason for blogging incognito is given in the tabs above labeled ‘Joe America’ and ‘Anonymity’. Most people accept my explanation and simply focus on the ideas, which works fine. I don’t pretend to be a reporter. Indeed, I admit to writing for effect . . . even fiction. We have different objectives. Yours is to report. Mine is to incite ideas and every once in a while solutions. So there you go. Being a blogger is way different than being a REAL journalist. Also, for marketing purposes, the JoeAm handle works better than would, say, Harold Hergenblatt. Some 10 to 15 people hereabouts know my real name and they still call me Joe. Go figure.

      I fund my whole operation myself. My computer is fully depreciated. I spend P999 a month for internet connection which works 36% of the time. I draw no salary, believing that when money enters the picture, bias does, too.

      I critique Rappler because I read it regularly (or did) and have become disappointed with what I read (or in this case, didn’t read), so I guess there is a certain balance to our relationship. I also appreciate all the links, although I don’t expect to go through many of them. The hearing I was referring to was not August 20, but September 4, so your links are irrelevant. September 4 is when testimony was rendered that bid rigging is standard procedure in Makati, a bombshell, a smoking gun, a big deal. I visited Rappler about three times in the late afternoon and evening looking for a story, and three or four times the next day until I eventually bumped into the Nancy Binay story. If there was an article about the bid rigging accusation, it was extraordinarily dynamic, and came and went in a matter of a few hours. Dismayed is an understatement, and I connected it to my earlier complaint about labeling of Mr. Aquino unkindly. If I mistakenly read an unusual omission as bias, I’m happy. If I mistakenly read aspersions to President Aquino in news reports as bias, I’m also pleased. It is comforting to know that I can look forward to balanced and objective reporting from Rappler in the future.

      Because you had trouble grasping the meaning of my blog, let me restate the key thoughts:

      1) VP Binay manages the media effectively via family, spokesmen, friends in the media. Being the don of a dynasty gets one really superior visibility hereabouts.

      2) Media in the Philippines do not typically write whole, issues-based articles that are balanced, but respond to events and people of influence. This is a (dynamic), cheap, easy way to report and get emotionalism into the headlines, with views and counterviews occurring on successive days. This extended, somewhat contrived emotionalism sells a lot of copy.

      3) By being skilled (loud in volume), VP Binay (like other skilled media manipulators such as Bayan Muna) has an outsized presence in the news and can therefore shape perceptions. Less skilled or well-funded operators – or people just doing their government jobs – can’t compete with the loud presence of a well-crafted media program.

      4) Media are valuable tools for the manipulators. Objectivity, thoroughness and balance in reporting are not the main media drivers. Dynamism and sensationalism and making money are. Media respond to the loudest or most influential voices.

      That’s my opinion. But don’t take my word for it. Ask around. Or read the commentary here, even.

      • Joe, the image of you and your computer is somehow exactly how I imagine you, haha!

        There’s no agenda, no malice in your write-ups, just sensible observations. Apart from these, I think it’s your concern for the Philippines that endears you to those who read your blog. That’s certainly true of me. 🙂

        (Loving the detail about the fully depreciated computer with a P999 internet connection which works a third of the time, haha!)

      • vernon says:

        Joe,

        Told ya!!!!!

        We touched a VERY, VERY raw nerve there. Good. Now they’re on imagined damage control. “Button down the hatches! Dive, dive…………..”

        I am beginning to like this game. Sorta like, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!”

        No tip toeing through the tulips, amigo! “Tira!!

        I JUST SO LIKE WHAT YOU DID!! Better than my 5:00 AM Columbian Brew.

        Keep swinging.

        As always………….I sometimes feel silly when I get sooooooooooooooo excited.

        vernon

    • ponkawolla says:

      “We try as much as possible to be balanced in reporting. But what really rankles me are people who think they have the right to call us out for not divulging who is financing us when they themselves are hiding behind pseudonyms.”

      If you nothing to hide, then why get all emotional at such a request? As a journalist for a well-known media outlet it is unnecessary to feel rankled whenever information detailing the ownership of said media outlet is requested by outsiders. Showing irritation over such basic questioning already casts additional doubt on your intentions as a news provider.

      Also, ever get the idea that, in a country as violent as the Philippines, it would be in JoeAm’s best interest that he remain anonymous? Surely Rappler knows full well the sensitive and vengeful nature of Filipinos!

      • Joe America says:

        I appreciate the understanding. If the choice were use a real name and photo or else don’t blog, the decision would be don’t blog. My wife won’t even let me use a photo of when I was in my 20’s. Her reaction was much along the line of “are you nuts?”

        • Joe America says:

          Plus, isn’t it interesting that those who are in the business of writing articles critical of others (journalism, sensationalist style) are themselves sensitive about being criticized.

    • cha says:

      On Aug 11 this year, Rappler published the following report by Ayee Macaraig :

      Binay turns to Facebook to fight ‘black ops’

      Ayee Macaraig
      Published 10:57 PM, Aug 11, 2014
      Updated 11:24 PM, Aug 11, 2014

      “Binay’s spokesman explains why the VP created a new Facebook page: ‘The disinformation has spread on social media so he is responding on social media”

      Now why is that “news”, I thought to myself? And what is someone like Ayee Macaraig doing filing such a report when I got the impression that she is Rappler’s resident news analyst, from a previous piece she wrote on the President’s SONA – “What next for Aquino and Congress” (which also became the subject of an article written by JoeAm).

      That Binay now has a Facebook page seemed more like the kind of reporting one would have expected from any of the Rappler interns, if not one that should not have been written at all, in the first place. It made Rappler look like an extension of Binay’s press office.

      A Rappler reader that goes by the handle DewyDaphne commented after the report:

      “Woohoo! As expected, Ayee Macaraig saving the day for the Binays! You go girl! Aim High Binay! Tanggap pa ng regalo mula kinaNancy at Joey Salgado! Gujab Rappler! To credibility and beyond!”

      I was taken aback by the comment. I hadn’t really paid particular attention to Ms. Macaraig’s writing previously so I did a quick search of pieces she has done on Binay before Aug 11. Here are some of them:

      1. Binay hits Roxas, says term extension proposal ‘selfish’ (Aug 08, 2014)

      2. Binay ‘humbled’ by Aquino sisters’ support (Aug 7,2014)

      3. Binay: Building just ‘high quality,’ not overpriced (Jul 23, 2014)

      4. Binay on Cayetano: I don’t attack for mileage (Mar 3, 2014)

      5. Q and A: Binay in Zambo: What happened? (Sep 15, 2013)

      I then checked for reports she posted on President Aquino ( again before Aug 11) :

      1. Serge: Aquino handling of DAP ‘lousy, childish’ (July 23, 2014)

      2. Joker warns against ‘presidential autocracy’ (July 15, 2014)

      3. UNA’s Tiangco: Aquino thinks he is the law (July 14, 2014)

      4. Osmeña: Aquino, Petilla ‘awful managers’ (March 13, 2014)

      5. What next for Aquino and Congress? (July 27, 2014)

      Let’s just say that based on the above, I can understand why Rappler reader Dewy Daphne reacted the way she did to Macaraig’s reporting.

      • Joe America says:

        That is an eye opener. Perhaps a Rappler rep will stop by to explain how that fits in with their award-winnning, objective, dynamic, modern approach to news reporting.

        • cha says:

          I certainly hope so. And while they’re at it, maybe this too:

          After the Makati Building 2 inspection by Senators Pimentel and Trillanes with building/ construction experts in tow, the following are the reports posted by some media outlets:

          1. P2.2B or P2.7B? Experts find Makati City Hall Building II ordinary
          By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA NewsSeptember 1, 2014 3:57pm

          2. Experts doubt Makati building is world-class
          By Leila B. Salaverria, Maricar B. Brizuela |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:25 am | Tuesday,
          September 2, 2014

          3. Makati carpark bldg. ‘di world class — Experts
          Written by Dindo Matining, Abante, Tuesday, 02 September 2014 00:00

          Compare with Rappler’s report :

          Binay camp on ‘overpricing’: Why rely on pop-up experts?
          Bea Cupin, Rappler, Published 4:18 PM, Sep 02, 2014

          “The Vice President’s spokesman questions why Senator Trillanes ‘omitted’ the input of a Philippine Contractors Association representative during the inspection of the Makati building”

          Et tu, Rappler?

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Aiieeee!
        *****

      • I only visit rappler for ONE REASON —-> Margie Holmes ^_^ <—- Nothing else…

  13. BFD says:

    What I find interesting though is why isn’t there an investigation from the news agency about this practice (use of paid journalist for vested interest) in the media. Has this been a practice for a while? What have the media organizations done about it?

    If not, then nothing can stop any Joe or Juan for that matter from critiquing or even lambasting any news site or news station for it. It’s all vested interest at work…

    I hide, but I’m aware.

    BFD

    • BFD says:

      For the benefit of fair play, I did a little bit of research. But here are the headlines Rappler had regarding Makati Parking Building issue.. I have included the dates. Please collectively let us add if there’s anything I miss. Thanks.

      August 1, 2014 and update on August 1, 2014

      Endorsing Binay endangers Aquino legacy – Cayetano
      *****************************

      August 11, 2014 and updated on August 21, 2014

      Trillanes: Probe Binays for ‘outrageous overpricing’
      *****************************

      August 12, 2014 and updated on August 12, 2014

      Nancy Binay to critics: Go ahead, impeach my dad
      *****************************

      August 18, 2014 and update on August 18, 2014

      Complainants: Binay building overpriced by higher amount
      *****************************

      August 18, 2014 and update on August 19, 2014

      Binays to Trillanes: Probe Cayetano, Iloilo too
      *****************************

      August 20, 2014 and updated on August 21, 2014

      COA chief: No clearance for Makati building
      *****************************

      August 20, 2014 and updated on August 21, 2014

      From cakes to buildings, Binays ‘overprice, chop-chop’
      *****************************

      July 23, 2014 and updated on July 23, 2014

      Binay: Building just ‘high quality,’ not overpriced
      *****************************

      August 25, 2014 and update on August 25, 2014

      Makati bizmen urged: Speak up on Binay ‘horror stories’
      *****************************

      August 27, 2014 and update on August 27, 2014

      Makati corruption witness: Who is Ernesto Mercado?
      *****************************

      September 4, 2014 and update on September 4, 2014

      Former employee: Fixing bids ‘usual practice’ in Makati
      *****************************

      • Joe America says:

        Ah, there, your last item, is the story I missed after multiple visits to Rappler, and multiple searches. Here’s the link: http://www.rappler.com/nation/68156-fixing-bids-makati-city

        It has 17 comments.The writer was Bea Cupin and the story is filed under “Philippines”. It was published Published 12:16 PM, Sep 04, 2014 and updated 10:09 PM, Sep 04, 2014 which suggests it was there all day.

        This indicates I clearly was wrong, which I obviously regret. I wish I could pull up the site as it was on the 4th to see where the article was placed to figure out why a story I looked for repeatedly did not jump out at me. But that would be an exercise in self-justification I suppose.

        I will say that the blog strikes a chord with so many people is a fact in itself, so while the specific allegation against Rappler has been shown in error, I think the main point – the sensationalist playing off of sides, one against the other, versus issue-based reporting – has merit. As does editorializing the news. As does the ability of skilled media players to influence public opinion by keeping views favorable to their position in the headlines.

        I’ll do an update to the blog providing the link to the Rappler article.

        • BFD says:

          Hi Joe,

          Rappler is a dynamic site with so many pages to go to. I myself is rather confused when I go to their site. I just compiled the list Ms. Gemma gave on her comment to you, added it on the Binay story they run where links were provided at the bottom, and there you go.

          Rappler or any other publication now know that netizens are aware of how media can be played so they might, and I hope, be more balanced in their reporting.

          • Joe America says:

            I agree. The dynamics of the site leave me befuddled, too.

            Indeed, media ought not have a free ride. They are a very key part of the democratic process, representing our freedoms, and we ought not let them get away with abuse of their responsibilities. I wonder if the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has investigated Philippine journalism. Perhaps I should research that . . .

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Correct me if I am wrong but did Rappler televise the September 4 hearing?

          I normally go to Rappler to view Senate hearings and I missed the September 4 one to my great disappointment.

          The “visual media” excuse has the character of a “palusot”. The September 4 news item should have been in “The Wrap”. Was it?

          Let us see if Rappler broadcasts the September 11 hearing.
          *****

    • With internet becoming more accessible to ordinary people – MEDIA will no longer be only source of information. 20 years ago when MEDIA speaks everybody listens and it was almost like no one can criticize them. Our world has evolved so fast in the past decades that even ordinary people like us can now be heard and can contribute on how to fix things out there. We also fix DOUBLE STANDARD Media like RAPPLER.com

  14. I just read that MVP (Pangilinan), Binay’s choice as a running mate owns 51% of Philstar and the Belmontes, 21%. You probably will not find Pangilinan’s name on their BOD list since he installed somebody else as his proxy.
    The Binays are media savvy. They sure are excellent networkers. They practice the theory of six degrees of separation with such panache.

  15. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. There is consensus in Australia that the Murdoch press anti-Labor Party bias was a significant factor in the Liberal Party victory in the 2013 election.
    1.1. Throughout Australia, the Murdoch press “controls 130 newspapers, owns 50% of 16 others, has digital media sites and publishes 30 magazine titles”.
    1.2. Murdoch fancies himself as a kingmaker in the political arenas of the UK and the US. He is the owner of Fox news.

    2. We do not have a Murdoch in the Philippines, and thank God for that. This post focuses on the treatment of Binay in two major news media, Rappler and the Inquirer. This is the tip of the iceberg. I wonder how much more we would see and appreciate of the dimensions of the Binay Defense Team (BDT) if JoeAm’s sensitive and ever-probing antennae had the bandwidth to look into the tabloids and other forms of mass media like television, radio and increasingly YouTube.

    2.1. Arguably, Rappler and the Inquirer are metropolitan dailies. These two would mostly impact the upper socioeconomic classes. An analysis of the biases of the tabloids would give us a more accurate reading of the impact of the BDT on the socioeconomic classes that decide presidential contests. However, the results of successive surveys on Binay’s popularity would tend to support the conclusion that the tabloids are either pro-Binay or, at the very least, neutral.

    2.2. On TV, the BDT includes the President’s sisters. They have created ripples in other media. The inner ripples of the endorsements were initially slanted clockwise towards Binay but, given the time for people to reflect, my reading is that the outer ripples are proving to be slanted anti-clockwise against him.

    2.3. On radio, we have no inkling of the impactive lengths of the invisible waves that course through the ether in support of Binay. (Note that in huge continental Australia, radio is still a significant medium and radio jocks, such as Alan Jones, are courted by politicians.)

    3. Another issue that looms in my mind is not only the openly slanted news and the spin of columnists but the dreaded silence of some of the news media and columnists. Is the silence self imposed or externally imposed? Is it out of tacit support or out of fear of future reprisal?

    (Apologies and thanks to Sonny for the use of the word “impactive”. 🙂 )
    *****

    • Joe America says:

      I think once the public is aware that the press are manipulative, the manipulators are not as effective. Thus, we should stay on top of things.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, these two sentences are a gem of a trigger. From the offshore perch where I am, the clusters of engagement among our leaders in the three branches and the fourth estate, take on a sobering hue when juxtaposed with the toiling 11-some per cent of our leaders’ “bosses” in the markets of the world.

        “… In fact the Philippines’ export labour market is estimated to account for nearly 11 per cent of its GDP, and in 2013, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sent home US$23 billion. There are an estimated 10 million foreign workers at any given time – a tenth of its population – and Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore host the largest numbers. A recent New Zealand article commented of these workers:

        Street signs and posters in recruitment office windows offer big bucks for labouring work in Dubai, Saudi, Japan. Indeed, the Overseas Filipino Worker, and their remittances, is part of the national narrative and identity.

        The world loves the Filipino workforce’s commitment to service. Cheerfulness is the national disposition. In New Zealand, these desirable attributes include English-speaking and – to some Kiwis – staunchly Christian behaviours. Not many Filipinos show up on the worksite or dairy farm late, stoned, or hung-over.”

        FYI, here is the source article for context:

        http://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/14749

        My take: I will take the easy bait and say, our leaders should take to heart the tremendous leverage our overseas compatriots are buying for the country’s burden. This leverage is begging for their proportional cooperation, i.e. productive husbanding our resources. Justice demands it.

    • sonny says:

      Edgar, verbing impact can be friendliable to use. ‘impactive’ is a little strange to the ears. 🙂

  16. jpeb says:

    Thanks for writing about your observations on Philippine media. Right now, on has to be fully aware of the forces at play in society and politics to discern what is news and what is spin. Its frustrating.

    I just hope the next generation of Filipinos will be more educated and more skeptical of local news media.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for visiting, jpeb. I think the younger generation will indeed have to develop new skills to deal with the many manipulations out there, from scammers to trolls to political gameplayers gaming the mass media.

  17. manuel buencamino says:

    Worth tracking is how media will play up the suggestion of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda calling for Binay’s impeachment. That call for impeachment is a ruse by Binay not only to stop the Senate investigation on the carpark anomaly but also to “clear” his name.

    An impeachment followed by a Senate trial would mean that the current investigation will have to give way to the trial. Of course, one could say that a trial would be good because it will focus the pubic’s attention on the anomaly and it could even get Binay to take the stand to defend himself. However, an impeachment trial ends with a conviction or an acquittal and this is where the scales are tilted in favor of a Binay acquittal.

    The Constitution says a conviction needs 2/3 YES votes of the Senate. There are 24 senators, suspended or otherwise. That means 16 YES votes are needed for conviction. Let’s do the math.

    Guess how the three detained senators will vote? And if they are not allowed to vote, that would still amount to 3 NO votes because 16 positive votes are required by the Constitution.

    So now you have 21 potential convict votes. Well, deduct Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Gringo Honasan, and Tito Sotto. All four are either relatives, partymates, or very close personal allies of Binay and the three detainees. So you have 17 potential conviction votes left.

    So many things can happen to at least two of the remaining senators on the day of the voting. Any one of them could suffer from a sudden recurrence of chronic fatigue syndrome, a slight stroke, sudden rise in blood pressure, a fender bender on the way to the Senate, a traffic jam, or they could even get stuck in an elevator.

    An acquittal in the Senate – the product of a numbers game – would “clear” Binay, render true his claim that the investigation on the carpark was pure politics, and make any future investigations on his performance in Makati questionable.

    Many can see through this impeachment ruse. Let’s see how media will use its power to influence the public into supporting it or not.

  18. MiguelLorenzo says:

    good thing I’ve read about your blog from raissa robles. I always visit Rappler’s site and sometimes share some articles in FB but I didn’t notice their bias on the issue of Binay’s corruption. But now, yes I realized that I have not read in Rappler any well-researched (which I think they are good at also) article about the corruption in Makati. And yes, there were more DAP and PNOy bashing from columnist than this. Philstar by the way is sooooooo silent about this also. Thanks Joe.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, I’m glad you found the blog, Miguel. I don’t follow Philstar, so thanks for that tip. I’m going to add them to my media watch list.

      • mirano353 says:

        Sorry. Is there a media watch list on the site, and proper commentary on their political proclivities? I, for one, would like to see that. Ditto, I suppose, for Facebook groups. There are a couple (ok, three) that have been listed as Marcos defenders. Shills who were former PR guys. Maybe you should (if you have not already) make it a multi-media watch list.

  19. gerverg1885 says:

    You said that the Philippine media is Binay’s defense team but what about Senator Nancy Binay who seems to forget about her sworn duty to be a legislator and not to be the number one reactionary force whenever allegations of corruption against her father are raised?

    Are the people paying her salaries to write laws or to be a staunch defender of the honor (if there’s any left) of her father and the family?

    Just asking…and wondering what really is happening to this political system dominated by so-called educated legislators.

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t think people are elected to the senate or house. They are elected to politics, and so they pursue it avidly. What I find amazing is how frequently she is in the news, front page, versus more established senators like Angara or Escudero, who are busy doing the nation’s work. That is another form of journalistic gameplaying, the “personality bias” the press seems to work mercilessly.

  20. gerverg1885 says:

    Shouldn’t personality slant be a better term?

  21. mirano353 says:

    Joe, one thing great about the internet is that the records are more or less permanent (sites can and do get closed down; ditto with articles). By shining a light on the pattern of reporting by Rappler ( I am so, so disappointed at their shilling for the Binays. Yes, I did not know that they shilled. Now that all the headlines have been laid side by side, the pattern is obvious. But I digress. What I wanted to share was that video – stored video clips – are also a great and illuminating resource.

    Take a guy named Daniel Razon. Never heard of him. Has a nice enough radio voice. But watching him try to twist Atty Renato Bondal’s points (and throw FUD into the points that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has been trying to unearth) is truly cringeworthy. I wouldn’t trust this guy to give the Filipinos the unbiased spin on the Binay adventures in Makati.

    It is instructive, nonetheless, to hear how the truth is swept under the rug. But then again, I did sit through all the Blue Ribbon committee’s sessions on the internet, so I kinda know what was discussed. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1815R4-YRg

    • Joe America says:

      I’ve been following the hearings as well, and gaining in respect for Senator Cayetano. At first I thought it was political grandstanding, but it has become a lot more than that, for sure.

      You are right, there are a lot of low-life’s around who have sold their moral principles to the devil.

      I do give credit to Rappler for having listened to the point I made in the blog, that posturing headlines one against the other is sensationalist. They actually incorporated Nancy Binay’s quotes within their last article about the hearing rather than headline them separately. But it is amazing, the media machine the Binay clan has built.

  22. Wil Flores says:

    Read The Philippine Star editorial page and you will not see anything about the makati city parking building plunder case since it was filed with the ombudsman! But then they attack every single issue they can against PNoy. Very one sided!

  23. Perk Biznews says:

    Very good observation JoeAm. So many mainstream media have been under the payroll of Binay’s abundant coffer. The social media play a vital role in awakening the senses of those people who are still in deep slumber. We are THEPHILBIZNEWS takes pride to be the major page that provides balance to media favoring Binay. Because of this, we are declared the Best Social Media Site and Blogger of the Year in the First ASIAN PEACE Awards. Will be here to continually do what is expected from us. To provide honest, fair and objective editorial. Visit us in http://www.facebook.com/THEPHILBIZNEWS

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you for introducing yourself, and it sounds like you have a good charter. I personally find the Facebook format difficult to access for news, as I can’t scan headlines. I note that your web site at http://www.thephilbiznews.com/ is not really active.

      It is good to have a variety of news sources, and I wish you well in your endeavors.

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