Journalists Looking Back to 2016
THE YEAR 2016 was not only about the national elections and the subsequent administration of President Duterte. The spotlight also shone on the media that covered these events.
It was a busy year for stories, fact checks and explainers for context. News organizations strived to balance personality politics with issues-based discussions.
Reporters intently followed the candidates on the campaign trail, chronicling both public appearances and behind-the-scenes scoops.
They also monitored the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in their preparation for the country’s third automated polls. Some of the highlights of Comelec coverage were the implementation of the “No Bio, No Boto” requirement, the transition of chairmanship from Sixto Brillantes Jr. to Andres Bautista and the procurement of vote-counting machines.
The return of the presidential debates also helped in picking the minds of the candidates and revealing the truths, half-truths and lies in their words and actions.
Plus there was increased interest in the election data, which notably sparked an investigation (by journalists and by experts) into the results of the tight vice presidential race. Rappler delved into the data to plot the transmission volume and the timestamps of each transmission.
Social media continued to make an impact in 2016. However, as the year went by, partisan personalities (on both sides of the debate) and online trolls, coupled with social network algorithms gradually created “echo chambers” that limited conversations and tended to deviate attention from real issues in society.
Due to these “echo chambers,” the media took criticism for articles that some readers think were “biased” and “against” the Duterte administration. Meanwhile, “fake news” proliferated in social media, prompting news agencies to quickly fact-check and debunk these stories.
The challenges for media in 2017 and subsequent years are to remain true to the tenets of journalism in pursuing worthwhile stories, combat fake news and continue speaking truth to power despite criticism from highly-partisan camps.
*Michael Bueza was a JVOJS 2016 panelist
MICHAEL JOSEPH BUEZA