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Maria Ressa defends ABS-CBN News regarding Meralco vs Government

We are journalists first—Maria Ressa
Editor’s Take
By MARIA RESSA


How independent is ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs?


In the past week, several people have alluded to Lopez control of the news agenda on ABS-CBN. On May 14, Secretary Eduardo Ermita hinted that an ABS-CBN story on the NBN-ZTE deal was being used as a "diversionary tactic" by the Lopezes, who are also the majority shareholders of Meralco. He said, "it is highly probable given players of issue which is electricity." That was followed by strong words by presidential son and Congressman Mikey Arroyo effectively questioning the integrity of ABS-CBN News. Over the weekend, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a quote from an anonymous source who said that the prize for a dialogue between President Arroyo and Meralco Chairman & CEO Manuel Lopez would be "ABS-CBN’s cooperation." How independent is ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs?


It is a good time to be an ABS-CBN journalist because times like these define a news organization and tell us much about our society. A lot is now being said about the role ABS-CBN plays in the power struggle over Meralco.

Many believe the Arroyo government is out to silence ABS-CBN by harassing the Lopez family. President Arroyo’s allies, on the other hand, accuse ABS-CBN of reporting on the new NBN-ZTE witness to divert attention from Meralco. They say they are afraid to go against the Lopezes because of possible retaliation by ABS-CBN.

That’s not what the facts show. On April 29, ABS-CBN’s online news team broke the story of the brewing battle between Meralco’s majority stakeholder, the Lopez family, and its harshest critic, GSIS chairman Winston Garcia. At that point, neither Garcia nor the Lopezes were comfortable with us because we exposed what had been going on behind the scenes.

After the first story, Garcia said he was convinced of our impartiality and became a frequent guest on ANC, ABS-CBN and a news source of abs-cbnnews.com.

As for the Lopez family, they know where we stand. My mandate is to create a professional news group with world-class standards. Yet, in our polarized society, the idea that the Lopezes would not "use" ABS-CBN for its vested interests seems hard to believe. I believe that is a reflection of the mindset, customs and corrupt practices today rather than a reflection of the reality we at ABS-CBN live through daily.

Track record
Again, I point to our track record: let’s look at our coverage of the Ultra Stampede. On that day, our reporters asked us, "How do we handle the people angry with ABS-CBN? How do we deal with those who are grieving and blaming ABS-CBN?" I said, "put them on air." We asked our journalists to go after the most critical voices and to get the worst evidence against ABS-CBN they could find. Treat the story as if we aren’t ABS-CBN because we are journalists first.

So how do I manage the interests of the Lopezes? It’s simple: I don’t manage them because they are not the interests of the newsroom. We are a newsroom run by journalists, and our end goal is to hold the government and the private sector accountable for the public good.

In order to do that, we journalists have to first hold ourselves accountable, making sure we protect no vested interests. If we do our jobs well, all Filipinos will benefit. If we do our jobs well, we will help build a better nation with more transparent processes.

Two years ago in a Lopez company forum, patriarch Oscar Lopez lauded our Standards & Ethics Manual. Manolo Lopez asked us to "stop being so critical" because he said that the Arroyo administration takes it out on Meralco.

I said we report what we see and could not tailor the news to fit any vested interests. If what he said was true, I asked, why not come out with it publicly? He told me, "Maria, you just don’t understand."

Last Friday, he finally said it publicly – that he believed the reason why Meralco was being targeted was because the government wanted to control ABS-CBN. He also admitted he has never been able to control ABS-CBN News.

When President Arroyo asked me why ABS-CBN was "critical," I said that we do not consider ourselves "critical" of the government. We believe we demand accountability because that is our role as journalists.

We also reflect reality. After all, 76% of Filipinos in Metro Manila say they distrust President Arroyo (according to Pulse Asia’s March 2008 Ulat ng Bayan). We have no other motive than to do our jobs well. Again, my answer to the President is the same as my answer to the Lopezes: if we do our jobs well, all Filipinos will benefit because we will help build a better nation with more transparent processes.

If you watch our newscasts, you’ll see that our coverage of the Meralco issue is extensive and fair. ANC aired, live and in full, the joint congressional hearing on Meralco. Our interest is to get to the Truth because we are responsible to the people. Whether we’re reporting on the Ultra stampede, the Manila Peninsula siege, the NBN-ZTE scandal or the issue of high electricity rates, we hold nothing back.

If you don’t like the news, don’t shoot the messenger. If you have no agenda, you cannot accuse ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs of taking sides.

The author is head of the ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs and managing director of ANC.
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Comments

  • pianpian PExer
    Ya, right.
    ABS-CBN forgot their mission to be balanced and not take sides. When she said 76% of the Filipinos distrust GMA, does that give them every right to taylor their news and make them harmful to the government and give up the ethics of balance?
  • fossil7fossil7 PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    balance means not reporting anything that will harm the govt?
  • fennfenn PExer
    When you have overtly and shamelessly anti-PGMA people like Korina Sanchez, Anthony Taberna, Ces Drilon and Ted Failon headlining ABS-CBN's News Programs, it's really hard to imagine that organization as 'balanced' and 'non-biased'.

    Sorry Maria, we don't buy it!
  • pianpian PExer
    fossil7 wrote: »
    balance means not reporting anything that will harm the govt?

    Balance means not exaggerating the news by placing personal opinions and making leading questions.
  • AbulugAdventureAbulugAdventure PEx Veteran ⭐⭐

    If you don’t like the news, don’t shoot the messenger. If you have no agenda, you cannot accuse ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs of taking sides.

    What?!! :grrr:

    Di ba nung May 1 siege e isa ito sa primary under threat ng mga Erap supporters? Di ba ito rin yun istasyon na kung saan nagalit ng husto ang FPJ supporters lalo na ni Susan Roces? ito rin yung nagdemolition job ke Raul Roco nun? etc., etc. ...tapos NOT taking sides?

    Maria Ressa, better get your @ss in here so every media peep can slap you on it! :grrr:
  • PinoySaKSAPinoySaKSA PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    For many years, I had no choice but to glue my eyes to ABS-CBN thru their TFC... I particularly watch News and Current Affairs programs. About a couple of year ago, GMA7 started their own international channel called PinoyTV. Since then, OFW's (I) had 2 options...

    Switching channels, these are my observations:

    - ABS-CBN's TVPatrol / Bandila highlight news item that they want people to react to... oftentimes, you'll have 3-4 reports on the same article consuming almost half of the program... Good examples are Erap's trial, Jun Lozada's story, Meralco... Lately, however, they insert unrelated news items and then go back to the item they want to emphasize.

    GMA7's 24 Oras / Saksi seems more organized. They get 2-3 reports on the same news item then move on to a different one...

    - GMA7 hyped up its news program - 24 Oras specifically - by putting a host who's voice tone is somewhat hyped... field reporters are somehow mellowed, and reports based on what they have seen... a coup d' etat is reported in an "anything-is-under-control" tone of voice...

    ABS-CBN tried to hyped up their news program by making their field reporters hyped up... We have seen Doris Bigornia rose up into popularity... Nadia Trinidad become household names too... You saw Ces Drilon shouting at soldiers...

    - ABS-CBN's writers may have a good compilation of Pinoy words in their super-duper-mega-over forms... you'll never have a good day without hearing phrases like "Umaaatungal na...", "Kinakalampag ng mga...", "Parang sinapian ng mga demonyo...", "Naghihimagsik ang kalooban...", "Wari'ng pinagsakluban ng langit at lupa ang mga biktima..."... "Gobyernong waring bingi na sa hinaing...."

    GMA7 does not seem to ride on this kind of style....

    - Have you tried observing which channel oftentimes focuses their camera on faces of people who cries or who's hysterical? You would even clearly see how tears are formed, how they are excreted from the eyes and how they fall right through a line down the chin... parang puede medical or biology class... it's very ordinary to see victims relatives weeping, crying in despair or fainting... parte pa ba ng news iyon?
  • Again, I point to our track record: let’s look at our coverage of the Ultra Stampede. On that day, our reporters asked us, "How do we handle the people angry with ABS-CBN? How do we deal with those who are grieving and blaming ABS-CBN?" I said, "put them on air." We asked our journalists to go after the most critical voices and to get the worst evidence against ABS-CBN they could find. Treat the story as if we aren’t ABS-CBN because we are journalists first.

    Good job Madam!
    If you don’t like the news, don’t shoot the messenger. If you have no agenda, you cannot accuse ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs of taking sides.

    I agree!
  • fenn wrote: »
    When you have overtly and shamelessly anti-PGMA people like Korina Sanchez, Anthony Taberna, Ces Drilon and Ted Failon headlining ABS-CBN's News Programs, it's really hard to imagine that organization as 'balanced' and 'non-biased'.

    Sorry Maria, we don't buy it!

    I don't like Taberna as he is not balanced at all. He is always anti-government in terms of his commentaries. However, Ressa is talking about the News and Current Affairs organization. The people you mentioned are just part of this organization and not the organization itself.

    I am a Kapamilya and a pro-Arroyo citizen so I cannot be accused of being biased. :D
  • Maria Ressa????? This woman is nothing but a dog of the lopezes...no credibility...zero...nada

    the lopezes says sit...maria ressa sits
    the lopezes says sing..maria ressa sings etc etc etc...

    Maria ressa obviously gave up her ideologies and principles as a media practitioner over a huge amount of money the lopezes is paying her...

    what a waste.....
  • d_red_tab wrote: »
    Maria Ressa????? This woman is nothing but a dog of the lopezes...no credibility...zero...nada

    the lopezes says sit...maria ressa sits
    the lopezes says sing..maria ressa sings etc etc etc...

    Maria ressa obviously gave up her ideologies and principles as a media practitioner over a huge amount of money the lopezes is paying her...

    what a waste.....

    I am not to defend Maria Ressa in anyway. However, it would help your cause if you can present an evidence to support your allegation.
  • I don't like Taberna as he is not balanced at all. He is always anti-government in terms of his commentaries. However, Ressa is talking about the News and Current Affairs organization. The people you mentioned are just part of this organization and not the organization itself.

    I am a Kapamilya and a pro-Arroyo citizen so I cannot be accused of being biased. :D

    If the organization itself is anti-Arroyo and so what do you expect with those people who works in that organization?

    I think Maria Ressa already lost her credibility. One big word for her.. sayang!
  • I am not to defend Maria Ressa in anyway. However, it would help your cause if you can present an evidence to support your allegation.

    a sus...wala tayo sa korte po...di ko kelangan magpresent ng ibidinsya....at wag mo sabihin na di mo dinidifensa si maria ressa dahil yun ang ginawa mo...kamag-anak ka siguro ni maria ressa, kung kamag-anak ka sabihan mo sya na may mga tao na hindi na nagtitiwala sa kanya...

    kadalasan ang mga guilty ang laging nanghihingi ng IBIDINSYA!!!!

    lopezes says eat ****....maira ressa eats ****
    lopezes says tell lies...maria ressa tells everyone lies
  • 'Simple lang naman iyan: Would you risk your high paying, six-digit salary per month job?'

    'Op kors nat. Hindi magpapaka martir si Maria Ressa para sa bansa.'
  • PinoySaKSAPinoySaKSA PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    [bI said we report what we see and could not tailor the news to fit any vested interests. [/b][/i]


    Ano raw? Kaya pala iba'ng iba ang dating ng same news item kapag ABS ang nagbabalita compared sa pagbabalita ng ibang news program...
  • l•)l•) PExer
    d_red_tab wrote: »
    a sus...wala tayo sa korte po...di ko kelangan magpresent ng ibidinsya....at wag mo sabihin na di mo dinidifensa si maria ressa dahil yun ang ginawa mo...kamag-anak ka siguro ni maria ressa, kung kamag-anak ka sabihan mo sya na may mga tao na hindi na nagtitiwala sa kanya...

    kadalasan ang mga guilty ang laging nanghihingi ng IBIDINSYA!!!!

    lopezes says eat ****....maira ressa eats ****
    lopezes says tell lies...maria ressa tells everyone lies

    walang kasense-sense mga sinasabi mo.
  • AbulugAdventureAbulugAdventure PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    I am a Kapamilya and a pro-Arroyo citizen so I cannot be accused of being biased. :D

    Do you even have an idea what we are talking about here? :rolleyes:
  • l•) wrote: »
    walang kasense-sense mga sinasabi mo.

    nahurt ka lang kasi inaatake ang idol mong si maria ressa....totoo naman
  • SirZapSirZap PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    "You either die the hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain" - Harvey Dent, Batman: Dark Knight

    Geny Lopez as hero of Eskapo, or is he the same league with Marcos
    http://paseoblur.blogspot.com/2006/08/eskapo.html

    Is Meralco or the Lopezes Rent-Seeking? I think they already did during Cory's time when Gov't returned their Meralco shares without payment from them. When Marcos took-over their shares were brought albeit forcibly or "autocratic" means OR was it the Lopezes who asked Marcos assistance?
    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/95241/Letters-prove-Marcos-didnt-sequester-Meralco-from-Lopezes
    http://www.yehey.com/News/Article.aspx?id=214150


    Remeber the Lopezes once held Maynilad:
    But why is Maynilad losing heavily? And why is the other concession—the Ayala-led Manila Water Corp.—making money?
    http://www.manilatimes.net/others/special/2003/mar/26/20030326spe1.html
  • Isa lang ang masasabi ko: Mahirap maging "objective" kung ang binabalita mo ay tungkol sa isa sa mga kumpanyang pagmamay-ari ng taong nagpapasuweldo sa iyo.
  • 'Milyon ba naman pinapasueldo sa iyo taon-taon, tapos me mga pa kotse pa, housing loan, comprehensive medical benefits, pension fund, etc.'

    To hell w/ "objectivity".

    :lol::lol::lol:
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