The existential dilemma of the Ph media

By Herman M. Lagon

CNN Philippines’ recent closing serves as a sobering reminder of reality. The termination of this reputable news organization raises important concerns about the status of the media in the nation, the attack on legitimate media outlets like Rappler, and the exposure of certain illegitimate ones, in addition to the financial losses and effects on the lives of its 300 employees. It is a sobering indicator of the state, if not the very survival, of the nation’s free, lively, and long-lasting press.

In a democracy, the importance of a free and robust press cannot be overstated. It plays a significant role in many facets of our life in the era of digitization and the internet, impacting social fairness, political vigor, information sharing, and social accountability.

A free press is a lighthouse for pointing out injustices, prejudice, and violations of human rights. Investigative journalism has the ability to make public concerns more visible and to accelerate social change by bringing to light topics that might otherwise go unnoticed. In addition, it provides a forum for underrepresented groups to express their issues, advancing equality and social justice. In order to facilitate changes and advancements, journalists can also recognize and document systemic problems in the fields of criminal justice, corruption, labor, education, healthcare, and social services.

In terms of politics, a free press ensures that the public is informed and has access to a wide range of reliable political information. This gives people the ability to participate fully in the democratic process and make educated decisions during elections. Furthermore, it holds political leaders and the government responsible for their decisions, actions, and policies. Thriving democracies depend on active citizens, political discourse, and activism, all of which are fostered by strong political reporting.

Additionally, a free, reliable, and long-lasting press is essential to battling the deluge of false information and misinformation that afflicts the digital age. It offers trustworthy, fact-checked information so that people can make educated decisions. Additionally, it offers a variety of viewpoints, encouraging constructive arguments and conversations that advance a thorough comprehension of difficult problems. By providing real-time updates, digitalizing news raises people’s awareness of current affairs and advancements.

Media outlets protect social responsibility as well. A powerful instrument for uncovering fraud, corruption, and unethical behavior in the public sector, business sector, and other institutions is investigative journalism. This exposure may result in more responsibility, reform, and legal action. To make sure institutions, especially government agencies, behave openly and in the public interest, media organizations closely observe their choices and actions. Additionally, by presenting positive models of ethical behavior and inspiring others to emulate them, media reporting establishes norms and standards for ethics.

The demise of CNN Philippines serves as a stark reminder of the difficulties that legitimate and trustworthy alternative media outlets, even major media outlets, face in the digital and internet era. These days, user-generated content on platforms like TikTok and shows on streaming services like Netflix compete with news companies as well as other digital media outlets. Media publishers are having difficulty making money because of the dominance of internet giants like Google and Meta in the online advertising arena. During the last election and probably the one to come, social media influencers, vloggers, and content producers stole advertising dollars from traditional media.

The shutdown also emphasizes the idea that media sources that only publish informative content might need to be more resilient. Leading networks such as GMA and ABS-CBN have traditionally depended heavily on their entertainment divisions to generate income. Regretfully, a lot of individuals only read news that plainly affects them in the near term.

Even though the popularity of online content has increased, television is still important in rural places where internet access is scarce. But as CNN Philippines’ closure shows, the media industry faces several obstacles, including government meddling and censorship, as well as the larger problem of media ownership concentration.

Concerns over media pluralism in the Philippines are also raised by CNN Philippines’ closing. According to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, the country ranks 132nd in the world; hence, it need protection and encouragement for journalists to undertake independent journalism. In an era when press freedom is being threatened, the public is deprived of a vital news source with an exceptional record of providing a range of viewpoints with the loss of CNN Philippines.

The closing of CNN Philippines and similar threats to other stations underscore the necessity for local media to have a viable economic model that respects free press ideals. In addition to being a business, a free and sustainable press serves the public interest by informing the public, promoting discourse, and holding those in positions of authority responsible.

Nevertheless, we would like to express our gratitude to the committed reporters who have worked so hard to bring us the news as we say goodbye to CNN Philippines. Their unwavering dedication to honesty, justice, truth, and accountability ought to serve as an example to us all. Let us see this closure as a sobering reminder of the critical role played by the free press, the value of independent reporting, and the necessity of a varied range of media sources. For many years to come, CNN Philippines’ legacy will live on in our hearts and thoughts.

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Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.

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