Filipino Media Criticized for Coverage of Tropical Storm

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The Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility published PJR Reports' criticism of media coverage of Tropical Storm Sendong. (Credit:, screenshot)

PJR Reports criticized some of the Filipino media’s coverage of tropical storm Sendong, which hit the Philippines in December of last year, for being insensitive and unhelpful.  Sendong led to “more than 1,000 fatalities,” according to PJR Reports, which identifies itself as “the first and only media-monitoring publication in the Philippines.”

PJR Reports’ managing editor Bryant Macale explained to iMediaEthics that PJR Reports was known as Philippine Journalism Review from “its launch in 1990 until 2004, when we turned the publication’s frequency from quarterly to bimonthly.”  PJR Reports is an online and print publication.  However, “the Philippine Journalism Review was revived in 2007 as a refered journal for students and professors of journalism,” according to Macale.

According to PJR Reports, which noted it analyzed nine print outlets and three TV outlets coverage from Dec. 16-Dec. 31, the media “focused on the stories of devastated and sobbing survivors…fixated on the death toll, and after the first stories on the human cost of the storm, paid little attention to the survivors’ current condition and how the government and the private sector could best help them.”

PRJ Reports studied the following news outlets: BusinessMirror,  BusinessWorld, Malaya,  Manila Bulletin, Manila Standard Today, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Daily Tribune, The Manila Times, The Philippine Star, 24 Oras, Aksyon, and TV Patrol.

As examples of insensitive coverage, PJR Reports cited TV’s 24 Oras’s interview with a “survivor” of the storm “just two days after ‘Sendong’ devastated” her city, in which 24 Oras asked “how she was going to celebrate Christmas” the next week.

PJR Reports singled out the Inquirer for being “obsessed with stories about the horrific experiences of the survivors” and as evidence linked to six “horror stories from the survivors.”

PJR Reports referenced its 1990 “guidelines for coverage of disasters and catastrophes,” published here.  Under those guidelines, broadcast journalists are advised to “tone down their delivery, so as not to contribute to public hysteria,” and all journalists are called to be sensitive and respectful of privacy.

We have written to the Inquirer and 24 Oras seeking response to the criticism of their coverage. We will update with any response.


Media Regulation in the Philippines

We asked PJR Reports what form of media regulation exists in the Philippines. Managing editor Macale explained to iMediaEthics :

“Despite the Constitutional guarantee of press freedom and free expression, the Philippine press is still hampered by troubling working conditions, ownership issues, government interference, and professional and ethical problems. But the press has found a solution in self-regulation, through which it addresses these issues by encouraging press responsibility as well as avoiding the regulation by government.

Macale noted that there are several groups to regulate the Philippine press including the Philippine Press Institute and the National Union of Journalists, as well as various press ombudsmen.

We also asked what some of the biggest ethical issues in the Philppine media are.   Macale referenced the 2007 “Philippine Press Freedom Primer,” which lists financial interests and  bribery as some concerns in the media.

UPDATE: 3/12/2012 8:55 PM EST: Made small copy edits.


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Filipino Media Criticized for Coverage of Tropical Storm

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