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On ‘Spin-Free’ Truth And Government Messaging

August 4, 2010

Is opting in the same as being co-opted?

This writer has been ruminating on this question ever since the President ‘borrowed’  three  of the more prominent journalists of this generation to take charge of the reorganized Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) in a reformist bid to bring credibility and respectability to the humongous information machinery of the government.

This is no mean task  given how messaging from government, any government, is generally stamped as propaganda.

Eons ago, the word propaganda didn’t really have a negative patina.

But it gained that disdained character thanks to Joseph Goebbels and his ilk, with lies being peddled repeatedly to make people think they were true.

So propaganda is about distorting our sense of true, of what is right or wrong.

As Wikipedia defines it:

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

With the revamped OPS  now called the Presidential Communications Group (PCG), Filipinos are being told that from here on, government information dispatches will be “spin free”’ with the Aquino administration saying it finds no need to  ‘propagandize’ because it won’t lie to us.

It vows to tell us the real score about how it is governing without any attempt at equivocating.

This is certainly consistent with the President’s maiden SONA wherein he called on Filipinos at large to engage government, to participating in the change we want our society to be:

To our friends in media, especially those in radio and print, to the block-timers and those in our community newspapers, I trust that you will take up the cudgels to police your own ranks.
May you give new meaning to the principles of your vocation: to provide clarity to pressing issues; to be fair and truthful in your reporting, and to raise the level of public discourse.
It is every Filipino’s duty to closely watch the leaders that you have elected. I encourage everyone to take a step towards participation rather than fault-finding. The former takes part in finding a solution; from the latter, never-ending complaints.
We have always known that the key to growth is putting the interest of others beyond one’s own. One thing is clear: how do we move forward if we keep putting others down?

Your Midfielder sees no reason, as yet, not to ‘opt in’ and see how the government media units are made to focus on truth telling  as his administration goes into its second month in office.

For the first time in years, we Filipinos are upbeat about government.

But as the days go, government’s actions more than its words will determine if our new found hope for positive change is right as the Philippines’ vital signs begin erasing the tag as among the “most corrupt,” that’s paired with the dubious distinction of being our region’s economic slacker.

So yes, Filipino journalists have reason to ‘opt in’.

But we must take care not to be co-opted and become blind to mis-governance if this resurfaces,

Truth is worth believing only if it’s be spin-free.


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