Why all media practitioners deserve to live with dignity and in safety

The article that you are about to read is a tribute to Mr. Percy Lapid, who died on the evening of October 03, 2022, and all other media practitioners who have died in the line of duty. We Filipinos are praying that justice be served and that the perpetrators be penalized according to the rule of law.

The media is considered the fourth estate of every democratic society. It is dubbed as such because media practitioners have been dubbed the vanguards of truth, impartiality, and vigilance especially in safeguarding public safety and governmental accountability. Media practitioners, notably those who are accredited by legitimate media organizations, have been executing the roles of public interest guardians and public information disseminators for as long as history could remember.

A screenshot of Mr. Percival Mabasa, aka Percy Lapid, in one of his radio/online broadcasts. Mr. Lapid, also nicknamed Ka Percy, was a hard-hitting radio commentator and columnist for more than 35 years. Taken from Mr. Pery Lapid’s official YouTube channel (LAPID FIRE ni Percy Lapid)

Media professionals have been sprouting like mushrooms for centuries now. With the prevalence of newspapers during the 19th centuries, reporters have been growing not only in numbers but also in terms of the scope of responsibilities and the extent of the events being covered, both in content and in vastness of location. When the age of radio (and then of television) arrived, many from daily publications tended to extend their journalistic competencies into the new media. As a result, we now have millions of broadcast journalists as well as their print-media counterparts.

With the advent of social media in the 2000s, there have been more and more media practitioners who have shifted to online broadcasting and/or publishing, though not altogether since they still have a place in traditional media through their radio/television programs, print columns, and/or print articles. One of the reasons behind traditional media practitioners’ decision to shift or expand their reach through online presence is that they have to remain relevant to the times and to society. Media outfits that have been formerly obscure are now becoming known, although in varying degrees of fame and of name recall by the social media-savvy public. Moreover, developing an online presence through the World Wide Web and social media ensure that both media outfits and media practitioners benefit from increased audience participation and added revenue. Finally, media practitioners get to develop their very own media platforms apart from their institutional platforms, thus helping them to unleash their creativity and bravery.

While there are many media practitioners who are devoted to pursuing the truth and who embody the epitome of a public hero, there are also black sheep who have committed peccadillos against the public and their fellow media professionals. For instance, there are those who engage in bribery, therefore being tagged as mercenaries. There are also those who also commit wanton acts of libel and slander for the sake of pulverizing their opponents and critics. In addition, there are also media practitioners who propagate fake news and/or editorialize straight news in the name of sensationalism, advertising profits, and wider viewership or readership.

Why do media mercenaries prevail these days? One reason is that media workers are paid measly salaries, in contrast to high-profile media personalities who have name recall, voice and face recognition, and vast readership and/or viewership. Furthermore, there are a plethora of media workers who have not yet been regularized at work, as in the case of PTV-4 (which, shamefully, has been known for a protracted history of worker exploitation and non-regularization of their workers) and most particularly mainstream media outfits owned by oligarchs. Lastly, not a few media workers, notably the contract-based workers and talents- lack work-related benefits such as healthcare protection, life insurance, allowances, and other related benefits accorded to regularized employees. We all could therefore asseverate that our media workers lack dignity and safety that must be accorded them by their superiors, fellow Filipinos, and government officials.

Yes, Virginia, there are a number of media workers who have communistic or leftist leanings and proclivities, as well as those who are openly critical and hostile towards our leaders, but all our media practitioners deserve to live in safety and with their dignity intact.

If ever a media practitioner, most especially one who happens to be anti-government, has committed a crime related to their journalistic duties, let the wheel of justice take its full course and let our courts implement the full force of the law. Even if there are journalists who seem anti-government or are biased, we all have no right to debase them and implore that they perish tragically.

Nobody has the right to wish them harm by threatening to annihilate them or by implicating their family and friends in one’s unbridled wrath. Nobody also has the right to treat them poorly or to hurl pejorative and lascivious terms at our media workers, especially women and regardless of their political stance, reporting style, personal and professional attitudes, and level of fame (or notoriety).
(N.B.: In lieu of the regular Guess What, Guess Who segment, we will be featuring a special tribute to the late Mr. Percy Lapid. GWGW will return next week. -ETR)

A tribute letter to Mr. Percy Lapid, one of my idols in broadcasting

Dear Tito Percy:
Good day!

I remember the time when we first became Facebook friends five years ago. It was during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte that we got to talk, albeit briefly, about the pervasive issues we have been both concerned about. Despite our political and ideological differences, as well as divergence in opinions, I have had so much respect and love for you because I consider you one of my fathers in journalism.

Still vivid in my mind is our FB messenger discussion about the state of education in our country, particularly during the time of former secretary Liling Briones. We had almost the same perceptions and reactions; because I have been a licensed teacher for 15 years now, I decided to find another way to vent mu frustration towards the Briones-era Department of Education.

Because you have motivated me to be tougher and more assertive, I have decided to start my column The Ilocano Educator through this newspaper (Ilocos Sentinel). I have also decided to take a more level-headed yet critical stance as a radio host (Voice of the Teachers Radio) and I am still doing it up to the present. Nobody knows this, but I subscribed to your YouTube channel and I have watched some of your commentaries, where I began to respect you even more.

It is just unfortunate that we never got to meet in person. But do not worry, for you have also motivated me to become a media reform advocate, which I actually started when I created a post on the irregularities of a major television/radio station, and that was six years ago. Do not worry, Tito Percy, for I have the highest respect and love for you even if I have not said it out of reluctance and fear of embarrassment.

Even if we have had different points of view, I appreciate you so much, Tito Percy. You love your family, the Philippines, your profession, and your followers so much and I love you more for those. We, the many who love you so much despite our differences in viewpoints and approaches in analyzing issues, are here to preserve your memory and to appreciate your works!

Rest in God’s arms, Tito Percy, and be happy in His loving embrace.

Sincerely yours,
The Ilocano Educator

If you have suggestions in terms of the education-related topics that you want me to feature, please feel free to send me an email to edteo.ramos@yahoo.com or to coachjet.inspirations@gmail.com and I will reply to you as soon as I receive your email. You may also message me on Facebook through any of my two working accounts: Jet Ramos (personal) and CoachJet Ramos (new and publicly official). You may also view my inspirational videos through my official YouTube account, now renamed Spox Jet Channel. Another channel, called Jet R, will be launched on October 15 through my online variety show Super Saya Saturdays and will feature your Ilocano Educator’s original poems in English and Filipino.