Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Minutes of March 2007 meeting

June 23rd, 2007 · No Comments

Cebu Citizens-Press Council 1st Quarterly Meeting
March 20, 2007, MBF Cebu Press Center, Lahug, Cebu City

Ruben Almendras (alternate of Sabino Dapat), Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas, Mario King, Jose Rafael Ferreros, Mayette Q. Tabada, Mia Embalzado, Edward Abad, Leo Lastimosa, Divine Ngujo (representing Jerry Tundag), John Rey Saavedra (alternate of Juanito Jabat), Eileen Mangubat, Pachico Seares and Anol Mongaya.

Dr. Pureza Oñate, Sabino Dapat, Atty. Jonathan Capanas (all traveling), Jerry Tundag

Carmel Geverola, News editor, Sun.Star Cebu
Nini Cabaero, Head, Sun.Star Network Exchange
Alex Badayos, Photographer, Sun.Star Cebu
Elias Baquero, President, Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists
Connie Fernandez, Executive editor, Cebu Daily News
Bernadette Parco, Writer, Cebu Daily News
Tonee Despojo, Photographer, Cebu Daily News
Ferdinand Edralin, Photographer, The Freeman
Marit Remonde, Station manager, dyLA
Bobby Nalzaro, Sun.Star Cebu columnist and anchor of GMA 7’s Balitang Bisdak
Fr. Guillermo Gorre, Rector, Seminario Mayor de San Carlos
Fr. Jose Adonis Aquino, Cebu Catholic Television Network
Fr. Marnell Mejia, Editor, Bag-ong Lungsoranon/resident priest, Christ the King
Fr. Fidel Orendain, Social communications in charge, Don Bosco Lawaan, Cebu
Fr. Raul Go, Co-pastor, San Nicolas Parish
Atty. Elias Espinoza, Cebu Media Legal Aid Fund (Cemla)
Atty. Pedro Rosito, Former president, IBP Cebu chapter (Cemla)
Atty. Eddie Barrita (Cemla)
Atty. Fritz Quiñanola (Cemla)
Atty. Rosemarie Olaño-Versoza (Cemla/Children’s Legal Bureau)
Erlinda Perame, Executive director, Venue for Initiatives and Genuine Development
Miraflor Silva, Psychologist, Antonia de Oviedo Center
Jolen Lim, Manager, MBF Cebu Press Center
Cherry Ann T. Lim, Assistant to the acting executive director of the CCPC
Carlito dela Calzada, Information technology staff member
Jose Armilla, formerly with the US information agency
Lalaine Go and Jun Solon of GMA 7

1. Updates

Cherry Ann Lim, assistant to the acting executive director, gave this update:
(a) Carlos Conde of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, reacted to the CCPC’s resolution for the 12th Asean Summit, mistaking it for a gag order. Pachico Seares, acting executive director, whose full response is in the CCPC website, explained to him that the Malacañang press release that had picked up the resolution had omitted a vital portion of the resolution, as well as added text that was not in the original resolution, which may have given the impression that it was a gag order.
(b) The CCPC website will accept advertising.
(c) The CCPC has received a total of 6 complaints since it started receiving complaints in early 2006.

2. Mia Embalzado gave a presentation on the CCPC’s resolution reminding the press of standards of law and practice on the coverage of women and children. It was suggested that instead of saying media “violates ethics” when interviewing child victims, the text should be reworded to contain this thought instead: “Media should exercise restraint in interviewing children or photographing them to ensure that their identity is protected.”

Below are salient reactions to the resolution:

(a) From Eileen Mangubat: In reality, there’s no DSWD or NGO rep at the crime scene, so it is the child victim that reporters will have to interview. She also said that rather than not having any photos at all of child victims, editors should be given the discretion to shoot the victims at an angle that would still protect their identity.
(b) From Erlinda Perame: Although there have been strides by media in protecting the identity of women, why is it that photographers shoot the women during raids? Shouldn’t they take photos of the customers and the managers of the dens instead? She suggested that instead of using the word “raid,” the word “rescue” should be used instead.
(c) Miraflor Silva: Even if the face is covered, the voice of the child can still be identified. Couldn’t the broadcast media disguise the voice?
(d) Rose Versoza: Reporters should introduce themselves properly as journalists before interviewing children.
(e) Leo Lastimosa: News managers should constantly remind editors and photographers that photographers should not just keep taking photos of women during raids and justify this by saying that editors will screen out most of the photos anyway.

3. John Rey Saavedra gave a presentation on the proposed resolution of the CCPC on the media coverage of the May 2007 elections. It was decided to reword the text to:

WHEREAS, journalists are guided by their in-house rules as well as the existing laws and rules and regulations of the Commission on Elections in the coverage of the elections.

4. To start the Church-Media Dialogue, Eileen Mangubat gave the talk “What the Church needs to know about the media.” Salient points of the talk:

(a) Faith, Community Pages and Letters to the Editor are not used enough by the Church.
(b) Media must process information on a deadline, so if priests have any statement to make, they must send it by the afternoon.
(c) The Church is so hierarchical that no one will talk unless it’s the Cardinal. Perhaps the Church could appoint many spokesmen that media can go to for different issues about the Church.

Reactions of priests:

(a) Fr. Guillermo Gorre: When priests speak, that is their own opinion. They don’t speak for the Church. When interviewing Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer for the archdiocese, it may be good to ask if he is speaking for the Cardinal or if he is giving his own opinion.
-The Cardinal can be cryptic if he is still not sure about an issue. Rather than conducting an ambush interview, it may be better to give him notice in advance that the press will be asking certain questions, so he will have time to consult with the relevant Church officials concerned and come up with a better response.
-We don’t have a crisis group in the Church. But we’d love to have one.
-The Church needs a longer time to give a response to media questions because what it says will affect the life of the person. The Church is a symbol of moral authority. An issue can be scandalous not only to the Church, but to the entire people.

(b) Fr. Fidel Orendain: While the church is honest and sincere in its process of addressing issues of scandal and crises, the varying perceptions of the public raise some alarm. While the media claim they only declare the sentiments of the people, they also fill the imaginations of people.

While the church claims that the problems are being dealt with following a set of protocol, this is not the perception aired by media (or by people through the media as claimed by the media). People think that (a) the church is bent on covering up its “sins,” (b) the church is banking on its elite or untouchable status, (c) the church is overconfident that people will be “kind and forgiving” to their erring shepherds, (d) the church is losing its moral ascendancy, especially in giving rules and directives to its members.

The local Church is giving a poor showing in sufficiently informing the public and the media about the latest issues that hit the headlines.

The main access of the majority of Catholics to information about the Church and their shepherds is the media. So the Church must do more than be quiet or mysterious or unclear.

Some needs stand out when it comes to media and church dialogue:
(1) Media and church representatives must become familiar with each other’s jargons.
(2) Media must be taught the basic structure, hierarchy and the system the church follows in dealing with issues.
(3) Media must be given a list of referrals from the local church, or point persons who are experts in particular church matters who can answer queries that are generally thrown to the Cardinal’s spokesperson.

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