Journalism-PR alliance seen to combat disinformation

FROM LEFT. Noel Nieva, Margarita Locsin-Chan, Myrza Sison, Roby Alampay, and Christian Esguerra during the virtual forum of IPRA PH: CommuniTalks on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.

AN ALLIANCE between journalists and public relations (PR) practitioners could combat disinformation in social media, a veteran journalist and educator said.

UST journalism professor and former ABS-CBN News Channel anchor Christian Esguerra said a collaboration between “honest-to-goodness” practitioners would help address the issue.

“I am allergic to political PR because I know how they operate and a big part of their job is to manipulate perceptions,” Esguerra said during a forum organized by the International Public Relations Association Philippines (IPRA) on Friday, August 26.

“But in this case, I am talking about a possible alliance between honest-to-goodness journalists and honest-to-goodness PR practitioners because I suppose no PR practitioner in their right mind would condone disinformation,” he added.

“So, this is where a crucial alliance must be forged between well-meaning honest-to-goodness journalists and PR practitioners to tackle this issue head-on.”

One News Channel anchor Roby Alampay echoed Esguerra’s insights, saying such an alliance should lead to a common mission of fighting disinformation.

“Where we can be allies is where we can identify a common mission. Disinformation is something we are grappling with,” Alampay said.

Alampay shared that after the recent polls, some journalists experienced “existential crisis’ and doubted their relevance as disinformation seemed to have maneuvered the entire election process.

“More and more we are realizing that we cannot keep this conversation to ourselves and to each other and to our sectors. This has to become a multisectoral discussion,” he said.

Journalists and new media

While he recognized forming sectoral relationships as a way to address disinformation, Esguerra also urged journalists to dominate new media platforms.

Whether journalists and the new media are “allies or rivals” should not be a question as they should take the “truth”  to wherever the audience is, he added.

“If the audience is on Twitter, you have to be there… on Tiktok and so on and so forth,” Esguerra said.

He reminded journalists to prioritize accuracy when producing multimedia content, given that social media caters to various forms of information.

“Even if we want to dance, for example, on Tiktok, which personally I hate and I wouldn’t do forever, the accuracy part still has to be there,” Esguerra said.

“Opportunities are there, especially for journalists, and we cannot yield the platforms to those who have been using that for disinformation, because they are,” he said.

This virtual forum was titled “Traditional and New Media: Rivals or Allies?” and is part of IPRA Philippines’ CommuniTalks series. F

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