Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

Media-academe forum tackles election coverage

March 4th, 2016 · No Comments

Conversation: Cebu Media-Academe Forum
Forum 2

Topic: Election Coverage
Date: October 10, 2015
Venue: Southwestern University

Eileen Mangubat (Publisher, Cebu Daily News)
Isolde Amante (Editor-in-chief, Sun.Star Cebu)
Cherry Ann Lim (Managing editor for special pages and features, Sun.Star Cebu)
Joeberth Ocao (Assistant news and online editor, The Freeman)
Atty. Ruphil Bañoc (Station manager, dyHP-RMN Cebu)

About the event

The event is the second in a series of fora organized by the Cebu Association of Communication Educators (CACE) and Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) under the project “Conversation: Cebu Media-Academe Forum.” Attended by mass communication students and teachers from different schools in Cebu, the dialogue aims to apprise media practitioners of the concerns of the students, and to serve as an avenue for the journalists and educators to address these concerns.

Issues Raised

1. Is it all right to accept food during press conferences?

  • Yes. It is a common courtesy accorded by press conference organizers to journalists they invite.
  • But there’s a difference if you are talking about a local government unit giving the food to journalists who cover them on a regular basis.
  • Acceptance of food during events should not influence the way the story is written.

2. Is it all right for journalists to accept gifts from news sources?

  • It depends. Some news outlets have a code of ethics that guides journalists on whether to accept gifts or not. If the value of the gift is big, it might be considered a bribe.
  • If someone gives a journalist a bribe, like cash in an envelope, the journalist can return it to the person right away. A journalist may refuse gifts—whether in cash or in kind.
  • If the press conference organizer hands a journalist an envelope containing cash and the journalist has inadvertently brought it back with him to his office, he should inform his editor, then donate the cash to a charitable organization and have the official receipt made out in the name of the person who gave him the cash. He should inform the one who gave him the cash about this.

3. How can you tell if the election coverage of a journalist is biased?

  • A one-sided story may indicate bias.
  • If the reporter has a pattern of always featuring only one particular politician, for example, writing about him often while ignoring others, that could be a red flag, especially if the material is not even newsworthy. The editor should ask the reporter why there is undue focus on that politician.
  • If a reporter refuses to investigate an angle on a story that may potentially reflect negatively on the politician he has been covering, that could be another red flag.

4. How can traditional media deal with social media coming out with the news faster?

  • Cebu news outlets verify first whether an incident posted on social media really happened before sharing or re-posting it, or coming up with a news story on it.
  • Cebu news outlets have their own social media accounts, where they may come out with the news earlier than they normally would.

5. May journalists run for public office?

  • In the case of Sun.Star journalists, if they win, they are considered resigned. On filing a certificate of candidacy (COC), the journalist takes a leave of absence from his media work. If he loses, he may resume his old job in Sun.Star only upon the recommendation of the Editorial Board and the approval of the Office of the Publisher.
  • Other media outlets have their own rules on whether their reporters should go on leave or resign once they file their COC, or whether they should resign only if they win.
  • Some news outlets also allow journalists to work for a candidate’s campaign, so long as the journalist goes on leave from his media job during this period.

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