May it be for drama, action, horror, comedy, or romance, the media can do its best to portray its role. But here comes a new reality show, the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona that is being viewed by the entire Filipino audience. Now, the fans would want to know, what role will and should the media play in this supposedly box-office show?
Chay Hofileña in her article “Why the media should connect the dots” mentioned about two of the four theories of the press, which are the libertarian theory and the social responsibility theory. I agree with all the things that she said. The media can play the role of just merely giving information or reporting the events to the public, because it assumes that people are rational beings. Aside from being a mere reporter, the media can also be an “interpreter of facts” like what Hofileña said, because people sometimes are not interested and are lazy to analyze the facts. The media, like a puzzle solver, will examine every piece of information or evidence it has and put them together to form the big picture. It should “connect the dots” for it to achieve its ultimate goal that is to arrive at the truth.
When I read Hofileña’s article, I remembered the fifth theory of the press proposed by Ila Virginia Ongkiko and Alexander Flor in their book Introduction to Development Communication, which was a required reading during my freshman year. All the things that Hofileña mentioned, like the media’s duty to uncover the truth, to shape “informed public discourse,” and to facilitate discussion and debate, are the media’s role that can also be seen from the fifth theory of the press perspective. But she was not able to mention about it. What is this fifth theory of the press? Ongkiko and Flor said it is Development Communication, a combination of the social responsibility theory and the soviet totalitarian or social centralist theory. They said, “Dev com combines the positive aspects and negates the negative features of both.”
In development communication, the main goal is to achieve “social transformation and development” and the fulfillment of the individual’s basic needs. Of course, these are very broad concepts, but in the case of the impeachment trial, transformation and development means knowing the truth to change the system in the government and the wrongdoings of our public officials that would result to a fair judiciary system and a more transparent government.
Hofileña is right when she said that the process of arriving at the truth is a collective one. In Dev Com it is called participatory. The media is not the only one that is responsible for knowing and reporting us the truth. As concerned citizens, we also have the responsibility to help them in knowing the truth. Information has been a basic need, and for us to be informed, we have to work with the media and the other concerned organizations.
The media is not the main actress in this reality show. Known to be the fourth branch of the government, with its surveillance and agenda-setting functions, the media is merely a supporting actress. It will only report what is happening, when it is happening, where it is happening, why and how it is happening, and who are the persons involved here. Aside from being a mere reporter of facts, the media will also take the role of an interpreter and facilitator. It will give us other extra information. The media will also act like a detective, studying a bunch of files of evidences to give us other relevant information like how all these revelations in the government will affect us.
With its different roles and its passion to perform those roles just to arrive at the truth, the media can be awarded as the best actress.
However, the show is still far from its finale. There could be a lot of twists and revelations in this impeachment trial of a chief justice. We cannot predict how things will turn out. What we can do is just watch and wait.