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Attn: Philippine Media

Isn’t Maria Ressa some kind of top-honcho over at ABS-CBN News? And wasn’t she some kind of local reporter for CNN? Yeah. Well, with Filipino penchant for elevating to the status of demi-god anyone who has been used by foreign whatevers (including youtube post-ers), Maria has managed to rise to dizzying heights of power in local media. To the point, actually, where she feels she has enough moral authority to actually challenge that most basic postulate of society: don’t break the friggin’ law.

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about journalistic responsibility and self-restraint – the former referring to the need for journalists to stick to news and not traffic in idle speculation; and the latter referring to the ability to refrain from capitalizing shamelessly on someone’s personal tragedy by using that tragedy as a springboard for ratings-generating discussion.

So, in that sense, this isn’t just about Maria and her news team. It’s really a shout-out (as in, I’m shouting but no one seems to be hearing) to all media in the Philippines.

Enough intro.

You know Heath Ledger, yes? And you know he’s dead. Well, nowadays, people have been given to delving into various speculations about him, his life, his loves and whatnot. At least one American news anchor (and by extension, news program) has decided to draw the line.  Here’s what Coop said:

For the last two nights we have reported on actor Heath Ledger. His shocking death is clearly a story a lot of people are interested in, but tonight we will not be reporting more on it. The truth is there is not really anything new to report.

The full results of the various tests done on Mr. Ledger will not be ready for perhaps a few weeks and there is very little new information. I have no doubt other networks will spend a lot of time tonight discussing his death and the various rumors about what might have caused it, but I am not a fan of speculation, so unless there is something really new to discuss we probably won’t be covering it anymore anytime soon.

If I had a peso for every time I’ve wished local media would exercise the same kind of responsibility and self-restraint …. I’d have a lot of pesos by now.

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Filed under: international, journalism, musings, television, , ,

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