Cebu Print Media Coverage of the 2010 Elections
Sixth Monitoring Period (Bisaya dailies)
(April 25-May 10, 2010)
Written on June 28, 2010 – 12:57 am
CEBU’S BISAYA-LANGUAGE DAILIES
The last two weeks leading to election day showed a peak in the election coverage of the Bisaya-language dailies of Cebu with 290 election-related reports or 54 percent of the news hole, from 48 percent in the fifth monitoring period. SuperBalita had more election-related reports than Banat both numerically and proportionally at 59 percent and 48 percent of the news hole, respectively.
Focus of the coverage was still on the local elections which even intensified; 84 percent of the election-related reports involved the local elections. The conduct of the campaign remained the most dominant theme all throughout the monitoring period. Personality and development/policy issues, however, received relatively more attention in this period compared to the previous weeks as politicians worked double time to be heard and seen. Stories with election-related violence and cockfight/he said she said themes also commanded considerable attention.
From 14 percent in the fifth monitoring period, the proportion of election-related reports of Bisaya-language dailies in the front page rose to 18 percent, with the remaining 82 percent of the election-related reports placed in the inside pages. Together with the increase in the number of election-related reports placed in the second page from 44 in the previous period to 55 in the current period, the data coincided with expectations that more primary attention will be given on election-related stories as the elections drew near.
The focus of Bisaya-language dailies was still on the local elections. A notable increase in the number and proportion of reports on “elections in general” was observed as media paid attention on the readiness of the Comelec to execute poll automation.
The two weeks leading to the May 10 elections saw the campaign theme bouncing back to dominate the election themes covered by the Bisaya-language dailies, from 78 reports in the previous monitoring period to 106 reports in the sixth monitoring period. Distantly following was the personality or character-oriented theme (64 reports), development/policy issues (50), and cockfight/he-said she-said (48). The number of reports on election-related violence remained steady at 42 reports, after rising to 46 reports in the fifth monitoring period from an average of 13 reports in the first four monitoring periods (two months).
The top six issues in development/policy issue-oriented reports related to the elections were economy/jobs (14), governance (12), health (11), crime (5), peace and order (5), and infrastructure (4).
Photos and Artwork
Election-related photos in the sixth monitoring period increased to 75 photos from 54 photos in the fifth monitoring period. SuperBalita published one infographic. There were far more election-related photos in Banat (52) than in SuperBalita (23). News subjects with the most number of photos were local candidates in Metro Cebu Jonathan “Atan” Guardo, Tomas Osmeña, Jonas Cortes, Alvin Garcia, Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, Joel Garganera and Rico Palcuto.
Except for Palcuto, an independent candidate for vice mayor of Cebu City, these candidates were involved in closely-watched public exchanges or controversies like the Cebu City South district congressional race between Osmeña, representing the entrenched and astute local party in power, and Guardo, representing a determined and daring opposition with a perceived large personal war chest. Mandaue City reelectionist mayor Cortes meanwhile raised the turncoatism issue against his rival Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz when the latter earlier turned her back to Gibo Teodoro and shifted support to Manny Villar.
Notably for Palcuto, stories about the less known candidate and his platform of government – sometimes accompanied with close-up photos of him – were published at least six times in Banat. This was however an isolated case of a less known candidate getting relatively more attention from one newspaper. Other less known candidates were almost absent in the news except if they were killed like what happened to Crisostomo “Tata Negro” Llaguno, a Cebu City candidate for councilor who was linked to the illegal drugs trade.
Following the data trend from the fifth monitoring period, the Comelec (55) and Philippine National Police (35) were still the top news subjects in the last two weeks of the campaign as preparations in the first automated polls and peace and order concerns were the focus of media attention. Gwen Garcia (37) and Tomas Osmeña (34) were still the top news subjects among local candidates. Noynoy Aquino (20) and his Liberal Party (36) became more reported about while attention for Manny Villar, perhaps the most controversial presidential candidate during most of the campaign, decreased from 23 reports in the fifth monitoring period to 11 reports during this period.
The top news sources during final weeks of the campaign period were the Philippine National Police (38), Comelec (37), Jonathan Guardo (13), Gwen Garcia (11), Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, and Tomas Osmeña (9). A non-candidate, James Philip “Jimboy” Tiongko (7), also became a top news source when he stepped up accusations that Cebu City mayoralty candidate Mike Rama was linked to persons in the illegal drug trade. Rama denied Tiongko’s claims and promptly filed a libel case against him. Tiongko was a staff member of another mayoralty candidate former senator John “Sonny” Osmeña who later withdrew from the race.
Neutrality in coverage showed a steady improvement from 70 percent in the first monitoring period to 93 percent in the sixth monitoring period. SuperBalita was still more neutral than Banat, although Banat’s neutrality rate considerably improved. Bias in favor of Cebu City independent vice mayoralty candidate Rico Palcuto (4 reports) were observed in Banat. These reports read like press releases straight from the Palcuto campaign.
Neutral vs. Slanted
(This report can also be found on the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s media elections link at http://www.cmfr-phil.org/mediaandelections.)