Andanar’s ‘joy’ bad for democracy
Media is meant to serve as the guardian of society in a democracy. It is a middle-ground watcher to check on government abuses or to support it when it is good and doing fine.
I beg to disagree with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s “encouragement” regarding the Inquirer’s alleged “decision”—whatever he may exactly mean in his March 2 column (“The more the merrier,” Opinion)—to share more “valuable (column) space” with government people.
How can government officials write an opinion objectively unless it’s sane to put letters “A” and “Z” in the middle of the alphabet? And who is willing to be brainwashed? Andanar complains in the column: “Our society lacks honest, truthful and decent conversation.” True, but what he longs for would only exacerbate the situation further, much less solve his and everyone’s gripe.
On the contrary, government officials shouldn’t participate in any private media outlets—be they print, television, radio or internet—because if they do, it would be toxic to democracy. Yes, they can be free to write or voice their stand, but not as regular, “legitimate” columnists, broadcasters and owners to force fodder on people with their bigotry and obvious bias.
Isn’t media’s concern supposed to be the welfare of the general public and not to serve as part of an “hallelujah” chorus for any administration? For columnist Andanar, it’s different. He wrote in the same piece with false pride, to boot: “The administration we serve—repeat, “administration we serve”—stands for transparent government.”
But why fault Andanar for saying that in his column? And why expect him, as a government official, to serve the people? Defend and praise will always be the tone of articles or programs of incumbent officials. Should we let them become “columnists” and “broadcasters” because criticizing the administration under which they “serve” would be the next and logical thing for them to do? But that will never happen.
Are we, in effect, declaring “state dictatorship” over ourselves—extrajudicially?
Ferdinand Marcos employed the practice of government officials and his minions writing in newspapers and having daily voices in broadcast media during his dark regime. In fact, he controlled all media. Marcos branded it democracy but, alas, it was its flip-side. Tragic.
But that was Marcos.
Every government has its own communications/media apparatus to convey its ideas and policies to the public, and it’s huge and free. As a matter of fact, every time it speaks it’s “news” and headlines already. Why then will any independent media outlet allow itself to be exploited or be part of the government propaganda machinery?
“Writing a newspaper column, I realized, is a joy.”—Martin Andanar
RENI M. VALENZUELA, [email protected]
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