Dealing With The Aftermath Of Bloody Tuesday (Updated)
Admit it or not, Philippine media practitioners are kicking themselves in the shin over how they ‘covered ‘ Tuesday’s 11-hour long hostage taking drama right at Quirino Grandstand where our new President took his oath of office, vowing to lead Filipinos away from the “baluktot na daan” littered with corruption and warped values.
In a way, dismissed police captain Rolando Mendoza’s act of hijacking the bus filled with holiday makers from Hong Kong was his way of protesting his supposed ‘frame-up’, with the injustice compounded by the Office of the Ombudsman’s inaction on his plea for reconsideration of his summary dismissal – a dismissal which had robbed him of a secure future upon retirement in 2011.
Now is the news media to blame for the live coverage of the tantrum pulled by traffic cop Gregorio Mendoza and the forcible manner police authorities “isolated” him on the suspicion that he was actually aiding and abetting his brother, the hostage taker?
A sampling of the online chatter among Filipino netizens:
The Palace Communications Group should have communicated and reiterated to Media the rules of engagement in covering a hostage situation. They uttered not a word so Media treated the hostage crisis like a boxing match… giving a blow by blow account with matching slo-mo and replay footages. Sensationalism ruled the day.
When does press freedom end and when does collective responsibility begin? There are images floating in my head of media people elbowing each other out just to be ahead of everyone else on the air, not quite aware of the impact their actions are creating in the hostage-taker’s own possibly twisted mind.
These hysterical Media anchors, news department heads, and reporters should be shipped ASAP to Hong Kong to personally apologize to the families of the dead hostages because they aggravated an already aggravating situation. FAIL.
The drama dragged on for 11 hours. Nobody stopped the media from shooting and airing the movements of the assault teams. Perhaps the whole government machinery was caught up in the drama that was unfolding on TV and no one remembered to blow the whistle. Not even the President.
Parang reality show ang ginawa nila in short. The Media Scoopers.
I don’t think our newscasters are trained well enough to deal with high-pressure, high-risk urban situations in a way wherein everyone is calm and collected. They kind of followed basic instinct and gave a blow by blow account, because, well, nataranta sila.
The exchanges are taking place against the back drop of impending congressional hearings into the obvious ineptitude displayed by our police in ending the stand-off.A congressman is already proposing some kind of restrictions on media reporting of such events.
This, as the Aquino administration assesses the long term impact of the incident that left 8 hostage dead to the Philippines’ relations with Hong Kong which hosts the biggest number of Filipino domestic helpers (estimated to number about 200,000).
What to do?
This corner submits that Instead of going into an orgy of finger pointing and “who me?” to’s and fro’s, the individual, and collective, exercise and realization that media practitioners (ground troops and gate keepers) should go through and take to heart is the simple truism Spiderman’s dear uncle taught him – “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The unacceptable other option would be for use to become our own Thought Police or to let Big Brother shackle us.
What shouldn’t have happened?
A good read this:
If these scenes were not enough to make stomachs turn, pictures of moronic disposition and moronic insensitivity have now come to light:
New reports are now saying at least four ranking Manila police officials have either gone on on leave or were ‘freezered’ to give way to the investigation into the incident.
There are also now mountings calls for the resignation or outright firing by the President of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and PNP chief Jesus Versoza.
People are also asking why the President has not spoken before the nation again on what’s being done as a follow up to his post midnight TV statement after the botched police assault ended in the deaths of 8 of the 12 remaining hostages.