Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Cebu’s English dailies focused on local politics

May 18th, 2010 · No Comments

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Monitor of Media Coverage of the May 2010 Elections
First Monitoring Period
(Feb. 10-27, 2010)

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and reporting the results through the Philippine Journalism Review and, in 2004 and 2007, in special publications.

For 2010 it is monitoring selected news broadcasts by major Manila based networks and the reporting by the Manila based broadsheets on the elections. An added feature of the CMFR media monitor of election coverage is the monitor of the coverage of the national and local elections by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council, which CMFR has engaged as a partner for that part of the project.

Following is the first of several reports CMFR will be releasing every two weeks for the duration of the national and local campaigns. It is limited to the timekeeping and Cebu analyses. The discourse analysis section of the report and analysis of the Bisaya dailies Sun.Star SuperBalita and Banat will follow shortly.

For more information about this project, please visit

(Cebu Print Media Coverage)

For 2010, CMFR is monitoring the coverage of the national elections, but has also entered into a partnership with the Cebu Citizens-Press Council to include a monitor of the Cebu press’s coverage of both the national and local elections. Following is the CCPC team’s initial report for the first 17 days of the campaign.

The Cebu newspapers monitored (Banat,Cebu Daily NewsSun.Star CebuSun.Star SuperBalita, and The Freeman) by the CCPC team were noticeably focused on the local rather than the national elections. Although the presidential elections did receive attention, these still came in second in terms of number of reports. Some reports were also on the presidential, vice presidential, senatorial and party list elections, but in general these reports were fewer and far between compared to those on Cebu’s local elections. Significantly, the Cebu press also reported on local elections in other provinces, indicating an understandable preferential bias for the proximate and the more immediately relevant.

Cebu’s English dailies (Feb.10-27)

The English-language dailies in Cebu monitored from February 10 to 27 were Cebu Daily NewsSun.Star Cebu, and The Freeman. Pages monitored were the front page and inside pages including the main news sections, Business, Nation, Community, and other similar sections except Sports, Entertainment, Life, and World pages.

All three Cebu English-language dailies combined allotted 19% of their news pages for election-related reports (389 election-related reports to 2,010 news hole). The Freeman had the most number of election-related reports (145), followed by Sun.Star (144) and Cebu Daily News (100). In proportion however to their respective news holes, Cebu Daily News led with 20% election-related reports, followed by Sun.Star and The Freeman with 19% each.


Most of the election-related reports were in the inside pages (92%). Of the 30 election-related reports in the front page, 19 reports were banner stories. Of the 359 election-related reports in the inside pages, 227 (63%) were in the main news section. The rest were distributed in the other sections like Business, Nation and Community. This could indicate primary treatment the newspapers gave in the placement of election-related reports.

Focus/Election-Related Area

Cebu’s English-language dailies focused on the local elections (161 reports) rather than the national elections, indicating an expected bias toward what is immediately relevant and proximate to the local readers. “Elections in general” was covered in 145 reports and the presidential election in 92 reports. Far behind were the coverage of the senatorial election (34), vice-presidential election (29), and party-list election (25). Coverage of local elections outside Cebu (i.e. Pampanga, Maguindanao) which were carried by all three newspapers due to its national significance or interest, are separated under the category “Local (non-Cebu)” with 28 reports.


The “Campaign” theme which covers sorties, strategies and other activities in the campaign trail was at the top of the local newspapers’ coverage of the 2010 elections with 132 reports. Commission on Elections (Comelec) issuances, rules, promulgations, actions and processes under the theme, “Other Comelec-related issues,” was the second most covered election-related theme with 110 reports. Notably, the local press gave considerable space for candidates’ platforms under the theme, “Development/Policy Issues,” with 93 reports. Cockfight, mudslinging, or accusations-counter-accusations among candidates also caught the Cebu English-language newspapers’ attention with 71 reports. This was followed by “Personality/Track Record” with 63 reports.

Among the major themes, the least covered were “The Arroyo factor” and “Complaints on irregularities” with only 23 reports each. Also, “Poll automation” did not figure in as a primary theme with only 32 reports which include stories about efforts by the Comelec and civil society groups to educate the public about poll automation, and assurances by Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM officials about the integrity of the process.

The top development or policy issues were education (20) and the economy (18), followed by corruption (14), and governance (9). Health or cheaper medicines (8), infrastructure/facilities (8), peace and order (7), poverty (6), the environment (6), anti-illegal drugs (3), and senior citizens’ concerns (3) were also reported as among the advocacies of the candidates. Notably, there was little to zero coverage of issues like the Reproductive Health Bill, Charter Change, and women and children. At the local level, the results of the May 2007 poll recount that proclaimed previous losers as winners hogged the news pages, especially about the situation in the northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan, a potential election hotspot due to the intense rivalry between two political camps that will again face off in the coming elections.


The most reported news subject was the Comelec (94), followed by Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña (62). Among the candidates for president, Manuel Jr. “Manny” Villar of Nacionalista Party (58) and Benigno Simeon III “Noynoy” Aquino of the Liberal Party (56) were the most frequently reported news subjects, followed by Gibo Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi (35).

Other frequently reported news subjects were the Liberal Party (45), Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (42), President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (36), Jonathan “Atan” Guardo (35), the Philippine National Police (33), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society groups. Guardo’s prominence both as a news subject and news source was largely brought his rivalry with Tomas Osmeña for congressman of Cebu City South District.

Of those running for vice president, only both Manuel “Mar” Roxas (23) and Loren Legarda (15) figured quite prominently as news subjects. In the local scene, incumbents had the advantage over their rivals as in the case of Mayor Osmeña (62) versus Guardo (35) and reelectionist Governor Gwen Garcia (42) versus Hilario Davide III (17). Garcia’s runningmate Glen Soco (19) however had more frequent coverage over incumbent vice governor Greg Sanchez. The pair of Garcia and Soco, both single, has been rumored to have a love interest angle.

At the local level, the results of the May 2007 poll recount that proclaimed previous losers as winners hogged the news pages, especially about the situation in the northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan, a potential election hotspot due to the intense rivalry between two political camps that will again face off in the coming elections. The court declared Augusto Corro the rightful winner in the 2007 mayoralty elections against incumbent Sun Shimura, son of the town’s vice mayor Ma. Luisa Loot.

Campaigns and activities of NGOs, school and civic groups on voters’ education and for cleaner elections were also reported (30).

Of those running for senator, those who became news subjects were former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña (9), Gilbert Remulla (7), Serge Osmeña (6), Liza Maza (6), Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (5), Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (5), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (5), Juan Ponce Enrile (4), and Saturnino “Satur” Ocampo (4). Others were Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel (3), Jose “Joey” de Venecia III (3), Adel Tamano (3), General Danilo “Danny” Lim (3), Franklin “Frank” Drilon (3), Ariel Querubin (3), Ramon “Monmon” Mitra (3), and Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano (3).

Among the party-list groups, only the anti-communist group and Cebu-based Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) (5), and leftists Gabriela (4) and Bayan Muna (3) have been reported about so far.


The top 10 most interviewed or quoted news sources in election-related reports were the Comelec (98), Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña (49), PNP/Police (41), NGO/Civil society (36), Jonathan Guardo (20), Cebu governor Gwen Garcia (19), Media (17), Noynoy Aquino (13), Manny Villar (12), and Gibo Teodoro (11) who is also tied with Cebu City representative Antonio Cuenco. Media as a news source means that the media outlet or person concerned became part of the news and was interviewed for comment. This included the complaint of senatorial candidate Lito Osmeña whose camp accused a giant TV network of refusing to air his local advertisement because it was in Cebuano language, an accusation which the TV network had denied.

As with news subjects, local incumbents had more opportunities to be interviewed compared to their rivals. Gubernatorial bet Hilario Davide III for example was only sought as a news source six (6) times compared to his opponent, Governor Gwen Garcia (19). Either Davide or his campaign made him scarce as a news source or Garcia who gets regular interviews by virtue of being governor had managed to set the agenda in an election-related angle. Also, both aspirants have been politically cordial to each other so far, unlike Osmeña and Guardo, which could explain the relative lack of exposure of Davide in the news as a rival of a major incumbent, given mass media’s innate bias toward the controversial.


The election-related reports of the three Cebu English dailies were generally neutral at 86%. That means 333 out of 389 election-related reports from February 10 to 27 were neutral. Sun.Star Cebu had the most number of neutral reports both numerically (135 neutral articles) and proportionally (94%), followed by Cebu Daily News (83 neutral articles, 83%), and The Freeman (115 neutral articles, 79%). Most of the reports had adequate background at 86%.

Of the reports deemed slanted (14%), the positive slants outnumbered the negative slants by almost a half, 40 is to 22. Seven (7) positive slants were for Noynoy Aquino, six (6) for Manny Villar, four (4) for Tomas Osmeña, three (3) for Loren Legarda, and three (3) for ANAD Party-list. Five (5) negative slants were against Villar, three (3) each against the Comelec and Jonathan Guardo, and two (2) each against President Arroyo and Tomas Osmeña.

Slant does not necessarily indicate manifest or deliberate bias. In most of the election-related reports that were coded as positively or negatively slanted, the latent content or the more subtle results of many different factors in the reports were considered – such as missing to get the side of a news subject on a major issue or accusation that requires his or her reply or rebuttal, and lack of adequate background which can otherwise provide proper context to the story.

(This report can also be found on the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s media elections link at

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions

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