Fake News: View of a non-journalist

  By Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica [Based on his talk at the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) media forum during Cebu Press Freedom Week 2019, held at MBF Cebu Press…

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Cebu journalists exposed to China media, culture in group visits

It is  new only because the invitation comes from China through “private organizations.” For decades a similar grant, but for trips to the United States, was offered by the American…

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Expanded Sotto Law to benefit more media practitioners

The amendment to the Sotto Law, also known as Press Freedom Law, expanding the protection to journalists, has finally been approved. The law now covers not just print journalists but …

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‘TRANS’ JOURNOS

Their work has shifted from newsroom to public information office;  from reporter to publicist;  from being watchdog of public officials to protector of the officials’ public image. They must spread…

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Ernesto ​D. Lariosa ​​(1944-2019)

The multi-awarded fiction writer played key role in using Cebuano-Bisaya to produce Cebu’s first native-language daily. He went into journalism but never left his first passion, literary writing. INFLUENTIAL literary…

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STATEMENT

Cebu Citizens-Press Council Saturday, July 27, 2019 Senator Sotto’s bill doesn’t define ‘false content’ and grants arbitrary power of virtual censorship to government bureaucrats. ​​The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) earnestly…

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How metro mayors and the governor deal with media

Most elected public officials affirm the often-avowed policy of staying “open and transparent” to the public through media. But, as new leaders in their respective local governments, they may modify p.r….

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Media Self-regulation through Media Literacy: Insights from the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC)

Abstract How does the press regulate itself? Through document research, key informant interviews, and participant observation, the researcher studied how the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) promotes media self-regulation (MSR) among…

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THE 2019 DILI DIALOGUE FORUM

CCPC attendance at Timor Leste meeting enables it to share, and compare, its experience on press councils with other media groups in the region By Karlon N. Rama AN INTERNATIONAL…

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In his 50s, FCE (1927-2019) showed peers what grit looked like

For many years, alone with his editor while already in his 50s, and with one junior reporter when he was pushing 70, Fred C. Espinoza filled the pages of the…

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Let’s not accept disinformation in media as normal

10 things journalists and audiences can do By Jason A. Baguia [From his talk “Rebuilding a Civilization of Truth” at the 2019 Cebu Press Freedo Week media forum conducted by the Cebu…

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10 things journalists and audiences can do

By Jason A. Baguia

[From his talk “Rebuilding a Civilization of Truth” at the 2019 Cebu Press Freedo Week media forum conducted by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) on Sept. 19, 2019 at MBF Cebu Press Center, Lahug, Cebu City. The other speaker, Fr. Ramon D. Echica, San Carlos Major Seminary dean, talked on fake news from the viewpoint of a non-journalist.]

THERE  are better things for journalists and their audiences to do than accept that the world has entered a post-truth era or that what comes out of the press is fake by default. 

Disinformation becomes normal only when people sit back and do nothing to promote a culture of truth-seeking and truth-telling. 

Fake news, spread at internet speeds may have been used by various entities to secure electoral victories around the world in the last half decade, but here are some things we can do to foil machinations that try to give lies the final word.

1. Know your fact-checking resources. On Facebook, look below the link to any news story to see if it has been flagged by moderators for being deceptive. Alternatively, check the veracity of a claim through websites with fact checking resources such as Snopes, Vera Files, and Rappler.

2. Remember that social media is not the entirety of the internet. Cultivate a habit of visiting legitimate news websites instead of relying solely on social networks for news and information. News websites continue to submit to the discipline of verification and to present stories in the order of their importance, in contrast to social networks where reports are subject to the spin of those who post links and are ranked according to measures of audience engagement.

3. Remember that social media is not journalism, though journalists use social media. Mere possession of a computer keyboard and camera does not turn you into a journalist and photojournalist. Be wary of social media contacts and accounts that deliberately or otherwise pass themselves off as news outlets, and refer to links from established news sources when discussing matters of public interest.

4. Remember the humanity of every person in the media ecology. Disinformation thrives on character assassination and glorification. Refrain from sharing stories that hysterically demean or exalt public figures. These tend to be propaganda that reduces persons to their real and imagined faults or grabs due and undue credit for them.

5. Be mindful of rhetoric and know how to analyze discourse. Is the campaign against the scourge of illegal narcotics accurately called a “war on drugs” or is this phrase a shrewd attempt to legitimize killings, including of innocents that in fact are tantamount to disproportionate use of force. Is not the language of war being used to justify the indiscriminate ending of lives in addressing the prevalence of drug addiction?



6. Know the political economy of the media. Legacy media organizations are known quantities. Knowing who owns them and the politics of the owners, the public can gauge the limits of their critical reporting and commentary. It is not easy, however, to determine who are behind new media especially fake news websites. Pay attention to research and journalism that exposes these financiers and prime movers. Knowing who they are can enable comprehension of the agenda behind their media content.

7. Know how to spot fake news. Where many fake stories are concerned, grammar is atrocious, photographs are un-sourced, writers are anonymous, sources are fictional, webpage layout is sophomoric, website names are comical, and editorial boards are reclusive and publicity-shy.

8. Read history with a critical eye. Has a historical narrative under siege already left room for readers to be critical of its victors, losers, and fence-sitters? If this is the case, who stands to benefit from any campaign to belie it? Does an alternative history or historical revision lead to greater pluralism and social harmony, or does it merely polarize voters and enable a few to divide the spoils of electoral conquest? 

9. Think long-term when handling discourse and information. When words are weaponized to exhaust dissenters and silence alternative voices, a regime is being propped up by a rickety throne of half-truths, and its supporters will find themselves by the wayside as soon as the regime — just like every dishonest one does — implodes.

10. Leave your echo chambers, burst your filter bubbles. Everyone praised the emperor’s new clothes until a child pointed out that he was making a spectacle of himself in the nude. The whole world thought the sun revolved around the earth until Nicolaus Copernicus posited that planets orbited the sun. Deceivers and their fake stories live off an audience’s need for stability and dogma amid the complexity and dynamism of socio-politics. But an illusory sense of stability — free from those who would challenge one’s views — is grossly unethical and unsafe. One enjoys it while the world burns, and fires take no sides.

 


 Jason A. Baguia is assistant professor on mass-communication  at University of the Philippines Cebu.  He used to write an opinion column and editorials for Cebu Daily News.


 

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Fake News: View of a non-journalist

  By Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica [Based on his talk at the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) media forum during Cebu Press Freedom Week 2019, held at MBF Cebu Press…

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By Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica

[Based on his talk at the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) media forum during Cebu Press Freedom Week 2019, held at MBF Cebu Press Center in Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City last Sept. 19, 2019. The other speaker at the forum was Jason A. Baguia, a  communication teacher-researcher at U.P. Cebu and former Cebu Daily News columnist.]

I am offering my reflections on fake news neither as a cleric nor part of the academe, although I also cannot leave these two hats behind. I like to think that this piece simply comes from a non-journalist, sharing his thoughts to the professional practitioners of journalism.

The landscape of mainstream media is changing rapidly in large part because of social media. Like almost all things, this novel phenomenon has its upsides and downsides. On the former, social media connects people. It is now possible to talk to someone miles away, and free of charge. Indeed, most people believe they are better off with social media than with none.


It is fake news when it is used by political leaders to harass journalists and there is threat of greater harm. Media consumers need to think critically. And journalists can be more honest about their biases and not fail to apologize for their mistakes.


But on its downside, in its social media where people show their narcissism. People post on facebook some trashy materials and what should not be for public consumption. There seems to be an information overload because of social media. Furthermore, one inevitably compromises one’s privacy if one enters into social media.

 Dramatizing discourse

On the political front, social media democratizes discourse. Before the advent of social media, Juan de la Cruz participates in political discourse mainly through the ballot. If Juan de la Cruz wants to be heard through media, he is to write a letter to the editor, and very few have the talent and the patience to do so. But today, anyone can make a post.

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Cebu journalists exposed to China media, culture in group visits

It is  new only because the invitation comes from China through “private organizations.” For decades a similar grant, but for trips to the United States, was offered by the American…

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It is  new only because the invitation comes from China through “private organizations.” For decades a similar grant, but for trips to the United States, was offered by the American state department’s Visitor’s Program and accepted by a number of local newspaper and broadcast practitioners. What is strikingly different is that China’s VP offers glimpses into how media under an autocratic government works.


SINCE 2016,  a number of  mainstream media workers from Cebu have been attending media seminars in China, sponsored purportedly by private institutions through the Chinese consulate office in Cebu.

The latest was organized at the behest of the China International Publishing Group and was held between June 18 and July 19 in Beijing, said Fred Languido who, together with Carlo Lorenciana of “The Freeman” daily newspaper and former “Banat News”  editor John Rey Saavedra, who now works with the government-run Philippine News Agency,  were among the attendees.

Fred Languido: With China.org.cn editor-in-chief Wang Xiaohui.

There were other participants, both journalists and state-employed information officers, from other parts of the Philippines and from six other countries: Iran, Palestine, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

The irony – autocratic China hosting a media event for journalists of mostly democratic countries –  must not have been lost, especially  to the Filipino journalists, who work with the “freest and most robust” media industry in Southeast Asia.

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Expanded Sotto Law to benefit more media practitioners

The amendment to the Sotto Law, also known as Press Freedom Law, expanding the protection to journalists, has finally been approved. The law now covers not just print journalists but …

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The amendment to the Sotto Law, also known as Press Freedom Law, expanding the protection to journalists, has finally been approved. The law now covers not just print journalists but  also  practitioners in broadcast, wire service and  electronic media.

President Duterte signed  Republic Act #1145 last Aug. 30 yet but it was released only Tuesday, Sept. 24.  It amends Republic Act #53, the 73-year-old law enacted in 1946.

The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC), which has helped in the drafting of the House version of the bill  (HB# 694), in an en banc meeting last Sept. 19, thanked Rep. Raul V. del Mar as main sponsor who had diligently filed and re-filed the bill in a number of Congresses before it was approved this year.

“The coverage is as wide as it can be, more than most of media expected,”  said  CCPC executive director Pachico A. Seares.

Under the Sotto Law, as amended, the journalist  “cannot   be compelled to reveal the source of any news item, report or information appearing or being reported or disseminated… which was related in confidence” to the said journalist. Only the court or the House of Representatives or the Senate or any committee of Congress  can compel disclosure if it finds that “such revelation is demanded the security of the State.”

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‘TRANS’ JOURNOS

Their work has shifted from newsroom to public information office;  from reporter to publicist;  from being watchdog of public officials to protector of the officials’ public image. They must spread…

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Their work has shifted from newsroom to public information office;  from reporter to publicist;  from being watchdog of public officials to protector of the officials’ public image. They must spread the ‘good news’ about their employer. Yet, they say, they ‘must still be truthful.’


THE Kingdom and the Power, Gay Talese’s 1969 book about the workings of The New York Times, opens with a pistol-shot of truth about journalists.

The most quoted part runs: “Most journalists are restless voyeurs who see the warts on the world, the imperfections of people and places… Gloom is their game, the spectacle their passion, normalcy their nemesis.”

But what happens when circumstances force a reversal of roles where they, who were once trained to spot official misconduct, become public information officers (government-speak for PR persons) paid to hide those “warts and  imperfections?” Continue Reading

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Ernesto ​D. Lariosa ​​(1944-2019)

The multi-awarded fiction writer played key role in using Cebuano-Bisaya to produce Cebu’s first native-language daily. He went into journalism but never left his first passion, literary writing. INFLUENTIAL literary…

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The multi-awarded fiction writer played key role in using Cebuano-Bisaya to produce Cebu’s first native-language daily. He went into journalism but never left his first passion, literary writing.


INFLUENTIAL literary writer and Superbalita Cebu columnist Ernesto Degumbis Lariosa died on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, after two weeks of fighting an illness. He was 74.

In 2006, Lariosa won the second prize in the Gawad Komisyon’s poetry contest in Cebuano.

On Aug. 15, 1995, Lariosa wrote in his “Puyra Buyag” column that he accepted the offer of then editor-in-chief Pachico A. Seares to become the language consultant of SuperbalitaCebu, the first daily (seven-days-a-week) newspaper in Cebuano language.

As the second Cebuano-Bisaya writer to serve as  language consultant of the paper, Lariosa, a native of  San Fernando, Cebu, wrote “Tamdanan,” or guidelines for reporters and editors on spelling and Cebuano grammar. He was instructed to produce “Tamdanan” by Seares, who wanted a guidebook for Superbalita  and other journalists writing in CebuanoBisaya.

 ​​​An ‘experiment

We were experimenting on the use of the native language in a daily newspaper, Seares, who implemented founding publisher Sonny Garcia’s mission for the paper, explained in an anniversary article in SuperB.

“We had no rules on grammar. We just told editors and reporters to be plain, direct and easy to read and understand.  Cebuano-Bisaya then was thought to be verbose, windy and deep for most media consumers. The primary purpose was to communicate.  The rules would come later.”

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STATEMENT

Cebu Citizens-Press Council Saturday, July 27, 2019 Senator Sotto’s bill doesn’t define ‘false content’ and grants arbitrary power of virtual censorship to government bureaucrats. ​​The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) earnestly…

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Cebu Citizens-Press Council
Saturday, July 27, 2019


Senator Sotto’s bill doesn’t
define ‘false content’ and grants
arbitrary power of virtual
censorship to government
bureaucrats.


​​The Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) earnestly asks Senate President Vicente Sotto III to restudy his Senate Bill #9, filed last July 1, 2019, which seeks to prohibit “publication and proliferation of false content” in the internet.

What CCPC believes are the major defects of the bill:

[a] It defines “content” but not “false content,” which is what the Sotto bill seeks to prohibit.

CCPC found the same flaw in Sen. Joel Villanueva’s “fake news” bill, SB 1492 in the 17th Congress. Not specifically defining “false content” will open media — and the rest of the public using the internet — to orders from DOJ to rectify, take down or block access or even prosecution.

The absence of a definition that excludes errors of publication or lapses in editing – violations of journalism norm or standard , as distinguished from malicious falsehood – makes media vulnerable to harassment and persecution from those offended by the published material, mostly public officials.

​​[b] It vests huge power on the DOJ Office of Cybercrime, which can issue those rectify/take-down/block-access orders on complaint or “motu propio” without hearing the alleged offender. The DOJ cybercrime office can exercise its powers without due process; it alone determines “sufficient basis.”

And appeal is made only to the DOJ secretary, enabling one office in one department of the government virtual “censorship” functions. What may alarm is that the procedure allows instant judgment on falsehood with a bureaucrat’s decision promptly executed until it is reversed by a higher bureaucrat.

​​The intention is to shoot down false or fake news. The casualty could be free press and free speech instead.

Pachico A. Seares, Executive Director
Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC)

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How metro mayors and the governor deal with media

Most elected public officials affirm the often-avowed policy of staying “open and transparent” to the public through media. But, as new leaders in their respective local governments, they may modify p.r….

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Most elected public officials affirm the often-avowed policy of staying “open and transparent” to the public through media. But, as new leaders in their respective local governments, they may modify p.r. method or style and degree of press access, for the LG official to “transmit effectively” his message.

It helps not just the working press but also news consumers to be familiar with how news sources manage relations with media.


THE new mayors of Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City — Junard “Ahong” Chan and Edgardo Labella — promise they will  be available to reporters for interviews. Evading inquiries from journalists is not their brand of politics, they say.

Valdemar Chiong, returnee mayor of Naga City,  had a bad experience with a reporter but will still hold press conferences “when necessary.”  Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas will grant “regular” press-cons. Mandaue City’s Jonas Cortes, another returnee mayor, may shed off his previous habit of rarely talking with medial he had before his new mandate a three-term stint at City Hall and one term in Congress.

The returnee governor, Gwen Garcia, a p.r. believer, is expected to hold press-cons and interviews as often as she sees need for them. Continue Reading

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Media Self-regulation through Media Literacy: Insights from the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC)

Abstract How does the press regulate itself? Through document research, key informant interviews, and participant observation, the researcher studied how the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) promotes media self-regulation (MSR) among…

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Abstract

How does the press regulate itself? Through document research, key informant interviews, and participant observation, the researcher studied how the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) promotes media self-regulation (MSR) among the Cebu press and media literacy (ML) among citizens and netizens in Cebu, a metropolis in southern Philippines. Led by civil society leaders, the editors-in-chief of Cebu newspapers, and other media leaders, the CCPC conducts MSR through the reactive mechanism of adjudicating complaints about accuracy and fairness or right of reply raised against Cebu’s five local newspapers. Its proactive mechanism involves the promotion of MSR among local journalists and the initiation of ML for citizens and netizens. MSR thrives in a setting that involves four stakeholders: newspapers, media advocacy groups, citizens, and netizens, and it can be enhanced and sustained through ML, which ensures greater participation of citizens and netizens as media watchdogs and defenders of freedom of expression.

Click here for the full text.

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THE 2019 DILI DIALOGUE FORUM

CCPC attendance at Timor Leste meeting enables it to share, and compare, its experience on press councils with other media groups in the region By Karlon N. Rama AN INTERNATIONAL…

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CCPC attendance at Timor Leste meeting enables it to share, and compare, its experience on press councils with other media groups in the region

Representatives from the press councils of Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand discuss media challenges in their countries. Other media groups were represented as well — the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen of Indonesia, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance based in Bangkok, Thailand (Kathryn Roja Raymundo, 5th from right), the Cambodian Center for Independent Media based in Phnom Penh, (Danny Caspe, 4th from right), the Philippine Press Institute (Ariel Sebellino, 3rd from right), and CCPC. The named participants are Filipinos. [Photo from Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste]

By Karlon N. Rama

AN INTERNATIONAL organization has shown interest in the interlocking support mechanism that lies at the core of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council, with an official saying it offers approaches that may apply to nascent democracies, where a free and vibrant press is crucial. 

Dr. Lim Ming Kouk noted on the sidelines of the three-day Dili Dialogue Forum (DDF), held in the capital of Timor Leste May 9 and 10, that the “right support from the various sectors of the communities media itself serves” will help address internal and external concerns affecting the press in the region. 


Quick look: Timor Leste allows free use of its public space but is planning to regulate media. It will define “who can broadcast and what can be broadcast.” A government representative sits in that country’s press council. The chairman of East Timor Press Council hopes for “self-regulation” and a media literacy program integrated in the education system.


Dr. Lim serves as advisor for communication and information of the Unesco office in Jakarta that partnered with the Conselho de Imprensa de Timor-Leste (Press Council of East Timor) in hosting the DDF. 
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Cyber libel as 'continuing crime'

Libel, ‘false’ news now carry stiffer fines

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