THE MARCOS Jr. administration is expected to reveal the struggle between truth and disinformation, compelling journalists to heighten their efforts to tell the truth, journalism educators said.
Since the Marcos camp has had a record of peddling “fake news” to win the election, journalists may find it hard to perform their role as truth-tellers, UST journalism instructor and The Philippine Star desk editor Leo Laparan II said.
“The reality of an impending Marcos administration dawned upon us: that now, more than ever, is the best time to be a journalist. It is going to be a head-on battle between truth-tellers and fake news peddlers,” Laparan told The Flame.
Laparan said the emphasis on ethical standards and the principles of honest-to-goodness journalism would champion the fight against disinformation.
“It’s all about keeping the public informed with verified information that they need to know and not stopping doing so even by a mere millisecond,” he added.
Felipe Salvosa II, UST journalism program coordinator and PressOne.ph editor said trolling made journalism “more challenging” as there is a lot of information that has to be verified. But he believes that the challenges can be an opportunity for journalists to rekindle public trust.
“I think journalism will thrive in top situations like this. I think it’s time in which we can prove to the public that journalists form an essential function in democracy,” Salvosa said.
“Despite the fact of having little trust in the media, I would say that there’s a significant chunk of the population—especially [the] young people, those who are passionate for social justice, those who are espousing progressive causes, or simply those who are concerned with the quality of governance that we are having. I think there is a demand for good journalism,” he added.
The incoming administration has announced plans to accredit vloggers to Malacañang events, raising concerns among experts who believe that the move would benefit pro-Marcos propagandists.
Some journalism educators have noted that a number of vloggers are trying to rehabilitate the image of Marcos Jr.’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted during the historic 1986 People Power Revolution.
Laparan said the discipline of verification would distinguish journalists from vloggers once the government allows non-journalists to cover Palace events.
“Sticking to the principles and time-tested practices of journalism, foremost of which is the discipline of verification, will spell the difference. That is not something that non-journalists or illegitimate journalists can do and will ever do,” he said.
While people could distinguish journalists from purveyors of disinformation, they still tend to treat journalism the same way as other content providers, Salvosa said.
“People have to recognize that journalism, although it makes mistakes, is accountable for these kinds of mistakes. It has fact-checkers, gatekeepers, editors, mechanisms to make the system accountable and this is something that can’t be said of vloggers or purveyors of disinformation,” he said.
While social media has become a platform for immense disinformation, Laparan is convinced that it can also be a powerful weapon to influence the public towards the truth.
“Manipulation and mind-conditioning have been at an all-time high,” Laparan said.
“What happened showed us that we should not settle for just traditional means anymore in influencing the public, but all the more that we have to harness such social media power to change the lives of Filipinos for the better instead of the opposite.” F – V. N. Yap