NUJP’s post-hostage crisis statement: Time for self-examination

Should media regulate themselves? Or should Congress legislate news blackouts? (Photo from inloughborough.com)

The Philippines reels after the violent end to the August 23 hostage crisis at Quirino Grandstand which killed several hostages and injured others. The hours-long saga was broadcast live on television and radio and kept the country, the world and perhaps even the hostage-taker informed of what was happening and not happening. Live media coverage has been dubbed as a negative factor in the crisis.

About media’s role in such situations, the country’s leading journalists’ organization issued this statement today:

A call for self-examination

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) grieves for the loss of so many lives in the hostage-taking at the Quirino Grandstand on Monday.

We condole with families of all the victims of this tragedy and we join the calls for a thorough and swift investigation on why and how the bloodbath happened.

The Philippine government and the Philippine National Police have already acknowledged errors and shortcoming in responding to and addressing the incident. We believe that they were primarily responsible for supposedly controlling the situation, ending the crisis and ensuring the safety of the hostages.

But even as we grieve, we call on colleagues in the media to seriously and comprehensively examine how we covered the crisis and if our coverage in any way contributed to the tragic end of the hostage-taking.

It is media’s responsibility to cover events and report these as comprehensively and truthfully as possible.

But some colleagues clearly violated ethical standards and established procedures and guidelines in covering crisis situations including hostage-taking incidents.

Various media institutions and journalism scholars have laid down guidelines in covering crisis situations including hostage-taking. We urge news organizations to abide by these guidelines and to ensure that those it assigns to cover these crisis situations are adequately trained and informed.

We also encourage media owners, leaders and organizations to meet and agree on a set of protocols for the industry to guide us during similar situations.

The hostage-taking incident has once again highlighted the need for more trainings and education on our ranks to make sure that we do more good than harm in the performance of our work.

But even as we examine our actions and admit mistakes and shortcomings, we stand firm against abrogating our right to cover important events of public interest.

We oppose House Bill 2737 filed by Cebu Rep. Luis Quisumbing and similar measures aimed at imposing a media blackout during crisis situations. Legislated restrictions on media coverage are more dangerous and could pave the way for abuses and excesses by authorities in responding to crisis situations.

5 Comments

  1. BADTRIP

    Hi,

    Sobrang too late na po yang mga suggestion na yan.. Sira na po ang Pilipinas.
    Eto lang concern ko sa media. Since ang media naman ay nagaral nung college ng Comm or kung ano pa man yan sana noon pa lang before sila mag apply ng work as JOURNALIST sana alam na nila kung ano ang gagawin kapag may scenario na ganyan. DIBA pinagaaralan yan sa college? Sana naman iapply nio ung mga natutunan niyo nung college diba. Sayang lang, pinagmamalaki pa naman ang mga media pero sa pagkakataon na ito, na realize ko lang na ang BOBO niyo rin pala. Kung sa bagay lahat nga naman ng tao sa mundong ito ay hindi perpekto, pero sana naman sa oras na yun nag iisip kayo at wag puro ratings ang iniisip nio. I think kelangan nio pa ng training kase BOBO niyo talaga. Sorry kung ganyan yung mga sinasabe ko, im sure naiintindihan niyo naman ang nararamdaman ko.

    tingin ko bumalik ulit kayo ng college or mag refresher course ng COMM, para kaseng wala kayo natutunan eh.

    again sorry kung mejo harsh sa mga sinabe ko, pero sa pagkakataon na ito. BOBO talaga kau..

    pasensya at good luck sa ating lahat

    again, walang perpekto sa mundong ito at kasama ako dun

    salamat

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