OPINION | A Subtle Misinformation is a Clear Negligence to the People

By Barbara Herondale

A clickbait headline in the name of likes, shares, or engagements is a sham and irresponsible journalism. There is a media giant who dwells on the “Walang Kinikilingan, Walang Pinoprotektahan, Serbisyong Totoo Lamang” tagline but ends up blaming the poor for the most part on its news reports. There is also a media giant who protects the oligarchs and landlords. There is another who reports for a tittle-tattle on the table. All that is the irresponsible revelation of stories, but it is more damaging when conveyed at the expense of the people for profiteering.

The year 2020 was a catastrophe tolling the masses but was even more aggravated by the negligent reporting of stories and news. Conspiracy theories have resurfaced, some have claimed that COVID-19 is just a state of mind, despite the lives it has taken away. Instead of playing games with the public, news must reflect the government’s incompetence to hold them accountable, not by tweaking the story as if it’s the masses’ fault for going outside — for their own survival.

Media shapes public opinion. It is appalling that such a crisis, embedded in the blatant disregard to science and research, refines the story by blaming the people and tagging them “undisciplined”.

A public health crisis needs a medical response and sound public policy. A “saltwater steam” won’t save the near-to-death COVID-19 patients. Social media has been the most accessible platform to be updated from COVID-19 development, primarily because of the giant-media shutdown. There arises such unverified information on hard sciences; it is dangerous when people believe it just because it has been “shared” a thousand times. Epidemiologists would, for instance, debunk the idea of using saltwater steam or known as “suob” to cure the virus. To dwell on such a measure is not just the problem of clickbait information but the inaccessibility of the healthcare services in the country.

As people hope for the end of this tragic event in history, an end to a zoonotic disease that is proven lethal to human health is what the Secretary of Health and the President alike should hanker on. Although a vaccine won’t save the already rotten Philippines from health hazards, the media must stop oscillating the public from receiving a vaccine by portraying the statesmen are right for choosing a vaccine with 50% efficacy. The media as a public watchdog is vital in societal development as it ensures that the people’s money are spent objectively by those in power. Media chiefly gives people the food for thought, and there emanates the public’s political participation. By all means, it must put an effort to hold the government accountable, including those who mull on the severity of the virus. That will give progress to the country’s dead battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s high time the mainstream media take sides. It wouldn’t take so much of their profit to side with the public and put an end to neutrality that endangers the life of the 99%. If we continue the old school journalism of being “unbiased,” it is the rich and the ruling class that is rewarded, leaving the poor in grave danger.

The Official Student Publication of the University of the Philippines Manila. Magna est veritas et prevaelebit.