Credit to Author: Tempo Desk| Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2019 16:20:53 +0000
IT’S now 2019. The recent self-immolation by a Tunisian photo journalist who burned himself to death to highlight his “government neglect,” brings to the fore once again the tragic plight the press faces in making the pursuit of the media profession productive.
Such unsettling development echoes also the plight of countryside Filipino journalists whose mission to bring first-hand news to the public has long been threatened by the failure of their agencies to give them decent work security, legal support, and reasonable pay.
Notwithstanding the deficiencies community media players face in the pursuit of their calling, they still lead when it comes to getting the stories from sources and telling events the way they happen. It’s a duty that is seldom highlighted with praises, and often derided as unfriendly.
As the “torch of press freedom,” community media players, despite their limitations, remain as vital instruments in ensuring a vibrant democratic space where access to truth prevails. The role of the community media gets more trying given the threats, challenges, and dangers perpetrated by some institutions and individuals who use public office as an instrument of oppression.
It’s ironic that while the community media stand as the harbinger of truth, its players generally lack access to tools that make the performance of their essential duties easy. This reality gets highlighted when they are confronted with legal cases and are often left alone to fend for themselves.
Corruption irrefutably remains rampant in high places of governance that needs to be exposed. Reporting these abuses to the public from remote villages is a responsibility the community press struggles to accomplish. Without the support of concerned citizens, they are always in a quandary on how to bring out the news without sacrificing their lives.
Globally, the Committee on the Protection of Journalists said some 348 journalists languish in jail today, 60 are being held hostages, and 80 were killed in 2018. Worse, records with the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders indicate that in the last 10 months at least 75 media personalities were killed around the world.
In the Philippines, the statistics are more disturbing. Since 1986 the number of Filipino journalists killed, most of them rural-based, has reached 164. With the media becoming the focus of attacks, covering events and reporting the news have become dangerous frontline missions.