Journalists and corruption

>> Sunday, June 12, 2016

By Gina Dizon

Let’s face it. There are corrupt journalists much as there are corrupt officials and employees in government, in church and private institutions.  In this world where the lure of money is a devil tempting the very appetite of man for the material, whether in need or whether needing more, money comes to  try whoever is an advocate of truth and justice.
For this world is consumerist and everything is bought that those who have money can buy anything and attempt tobuy anyone to satisfy one’s whims and interests.
The moneyed are the corrupt  and filthy rich officials and employees in government, rich businessmen, mining and energy magnates, drug lords  and those who get into  big time  illegal activities, and  thieves who steal people’s money whether one is  in government or in a private institution.
And the moneyed can buy journalists- them and their whole being once they are on the take. Journalists don’t have money just like what filthy- rich government officials and employees or what rich capitalists and drug lords have. 
For the advocating journalist,  life revolves in search for the truth and letting people know of information they have the right to know of, instilling values, forwarding data and insights on better systems in making  a just and humane world.  
With this belief and work system, the journalist does not prioritize his life on earning of money and getting rich but geared towards digging and searching for information to substantiate his story. Journalism is not a business enterprise where the end is making profit. It is a self-instilled work and vocation to search for the truth, let people know, inspire values to flourish and make a  better world where people live decently and freely  and where men are created equal.
In so doing is the nagging thought that people are armed with the necessary information to work and demand for their rights to effect what benefits them as people in a democratic society. That is, where information is silenced people are denied of their very right to participate in government    for what basis shall there be to demand if information is wanting and one does not know what he is espousing about.
This the journalist brings the needed information for people to base their acts of making government officials and employees accountable to the very money and benefits they are receiving from people’s money; their very acts which may run against the very principles and foundations of  imprinted morals, ethics and policies of government service and public trust. And where acts could be criminal, immoral and corrupt, information relayed by the journalist exposes a corrupt government official or employee or a corrupt system to the scrutinizing public.  
Where truth exposes corruption and exposes the corrupt, affected persons and systems shall be hurt. Truth exposed lets people know and when this happens creates frustration and disbelief on persons who corrupt and the very institution he belongs to.
Corrupt men in government or private  institutions don’t like it and this is where bribery comes in to entice the journalist or a corrupt journalist to extort  a corrupt person.  
Comes now the three kinds of  journalists  President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says- the crusading one who exposes the truth, the paid propagandist who promotes  activities  and programs of the  institution he belongs to, and the corrupt journalist who  attacks his subject and collects money ,then  turns back to defend his subject  and collects money from the one he attacks.  This makes his reporting on the basis of collecting money and not on the basis of exposing or crusading the truth.
Journalists come from all walks of life whether graduates in the field of journalism or not. Some did not finish college. Some are regularly employed and are dishing out stories every now and then and mostly articles for the institution they are employed in. Some are not regularly employed and thus do freelance sourcing their money as part time researchers or writers in other institutions or other work to finance their journalism work. 
With their vocation to bring out the truth to let people know, journalists plod on and persist writing, broadcasting, letting  the public know of information which concern people’s  very interest and welfare.
And in the process lets politicians and those working in government  the most vulnerable to be exposed as corrupt should there be any irregular or illegal acts in the performance of their duties. 
And where the government official or employee bribes the journalist who in turn gets bribed makes both in the same footing in a state of beign personally corrupt.
And where a journalist agrees to write, broadcast or not a story in consideration of money he receives from another  is bound to do what he has promised the other. Otherwise, this understanding is breached and the one who did not do what he promised is accountable to the other who gave him money in exchange for an act to be committed or omitted.
And according to Duterte, if one did something wrong to another person as breaking an agreement, ‘his being a journalist does not exempt him’ from getting killed.  
Both the bribing moneyed person and the bribed journalist in a dual  criminal state get them lowered to the ranks of the ‘low life’. Both committing and reneging against their very own organizational codes and committing what undisciplined and corrupted humans could commit- greed. 
What law will now protect either one,  the one bribing and the other  getting bribed and one extorting and the other getting  extorted willfully,  two being criminal, unethical,  and unprofessional who are  left  to their own acts. 
The receiver of the money, in this case the journalist now becomes vulnerable to whatever retaliation he may receive from the briber or extorted for reneging on his word. 
This now differentiates the  journalist who works for the truth to inform people  and the journalist who works for his own selfish interest to extort money or get bribed by a moneyed and corrupt  government person or some rich guy for an interest he protects.
It would then be necessary to discipline members of an organization or who are classified in a sector to discipline their own members or ranks to ward of undesirable acts which destroy and casts unbelief in a sector or an organization. For this is bad and makes life undesirably inhuman.
For I forward that a reneging journalist for a breached understanding and him being a vulnerable subject to getting killed is a measure I don't  agree with for a broken agreement could be affected by other factors and not a totally independent situation of two consenting adults. That is, the disgusting badness of the act could be cured by subjecting the corrupt journalist  to disciplinary measures, given sanctions or sending him to jail where such is the case but not to get instantly killed.  
It would be good to look at the status of journalists who work for the sake of journalism in the  genuine sense of the term. In most cases apart from the institutionally paid one who writes for the office he belongs to, a freelance journalist, contributor or  employed  reporter is  paid per column inch of his story or given a discount to an advertisement he  brings for publication. 
In most cases I know, there is no security of tenure, no Philhealth, no SSS no Pagibig benefits.  And what drives them to  do journalism is their love and passion to search for the truth and justice, let people know that in the process  the information they bring out be used to  make better systems and be of good and beneficial use to people and society.
Journalism is a work and passion a few enter in because of the financially unrewarding returns of it including the dangers of being exposed to getting hurt. Nevertheless journalists are encouraged to increase for all the intentions and spirit of what journalism espouses on.

What systems and policies shall afford journalists benefits to their advocacy  is one laden with issues of morality, discipline and scruples to exact an uncorrupted and dignified stance while on duty as a human being and as a crusading journalist.


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