Informed choice now

PRO-CHOICE ADVOCATES clamor for “informed choice.” So does the media.

But the shocking news is: everybody wants informed choice. Yes, also pro-life people, given that information is truthful and necessary.

But where is real informed choice if the media, to begin with, does not even publish the pro-life block’s research-based arguments?

Where is informed choice if the media continues to box the pro-life group as the religious-leaning, emotion-driven, medieval and unreasonable pack of conservatives, while the pro-choice advocates continue to be projected strictly as evidence-oriented, pro-women, pro-health, and victim-of-the-Catholic-Church? (As if the pro-life block is not evidence-oriented, pro-women, and pro-health.)

Let me count some of the ways mainstream media has denied the public their right to know:

  1. The anti-RH bill position paper written by more than a dozen UP faculty, students, and alumni — and signed by at least 350 more such UP affiliates — was never published or reported on, except by the Manila Times (the said UP affiliates submitted a press release). The position paper is backed by purely secular arguments opposing the RH bill and is supported by a 70-plus-item list of academic references. Among the authors of the paper was a medical doctor, a statistician, a physicist, and biologists.
  2. The inter-faith pro-life rally last month at the PICC grounds. It was probably the largest protest staged against the bill, with attendees numbering 5,000, according to the CBCP. But did it appear in the news? No. Okay, one or two news outlets mentioned it in a few words — without the numbers and arguments, of course.
  3. The chastity talk by renowned speaker Jason Evert at SMX on February 27: no report about it, either. Before 7,000 young people, Mr. Evert strongly denounced the RH bill in his talk. But none of the mainstream journalists cared to be there to catch his words. Many of Mr. Evert’s listeners (including sports and TV celebrity Chris Tiu) are now raving about him and his hilarious-but-sensible points.

Pray tell: why are these journalists hindering informed choice? Are they being paid, too, for explicitly supporting the RH bill? Highlight this for fun—>By “paid”, I mean the same thing that GABRIELA did to the “warm bodies” in last Tuesday’s House deliberations: the group paid each of them P250 and gave them merienda and air-conditioned bus rides. Nice.

EXTRA: Amid all this un-information dissemination, I wonder if the hierarchy of the CMFR would care to correct its flock.

[UPDATED 14.iii.11 12:24am]


Letters to Ed*

So why write a letter to the editor if it won’t get printed anyway?

— Says who? And so what if it didn’t get printed?

Some thoughts I gathered after submitting five letters and (luckily) getting three of them published in the past month-and-a-half:

  1. It’s our right (and even duty) to write such letters. That way, we’ll be helping our democratic system work better; we’ll become part of the social discourse that aims to achieve truth and justice for all. I know it sounds academic, but it’s true.
  2. It’s a way of letting media  know we care — about them, about the issues they talk about, and about the people concerned. Buying their paper (or reading their website) is one thing, but giving feedback is another — and something higher and nobler.
  3. Your idea might be unique and could contribute a great deal in discussing the issue you write about.
  4. Three things can happen after sending your letter: (a) it gets published, (b) it doesn’t get published, or (c) it gets published after a loooong while. So just be sincere and send your letter — then forget about it. Give yourself the surprise of seeing your name on the paper on a rainy Tuesday morning.
  5. Don’t worry too much about grammar and spelling — that’s the editors’ job (though I don’t recommend “non-revision” of your own work either; so revise, rewrite, refine before sending). And focus instead on brevity, accuracy, coherence, and sound judgment. You can even let your friend read your letter first, to see if it has errors.
  6. If your letter doesn’t get published, at least editors get to read it. If you speak the truth and they are humble to recognize it, you’ll have attained your aim.
  7. Some media outlets can be hostile and will assert themselves as the Big Boss, especially if you criticized them. Never fear: you were sincere and fair in your letter, right? –Then learn to forgive them; forgiveness is the sweetest “revenge”.
  8. You have no idea how many people read the Letters section. As long as you side with reason, people will also side with you.
  9. Write about the good things, too, especially the exceptional ones. Journalists also deserve our congratulations. Well, some of them.
  10. And keep those letters coming! –Even if you have to say the same thing (though in different ways). Because people tend to forget easily. We have to embark on a crusade of repeating, repeating, repeating timeless truths.

*With inputs from eHow articles

Photo by Bulldogza

“Did the Inquirer lie in its editor’s reply?” Let’s hope it didn’t.

Coolness. I sincerely thank the Inquirer for publishing the letter I submitted to them a month ago.

Originally titled “The Inquirer’s agenda?” and posted on this blog, the letter was published yesterday with the title “Did the Inquirer lie in its editor’s reply?” You may read the entire article here.

I am further grateful that the paper even replied to the letter — and how! The venerable editors said:

It is a point of pride for the Inquirer that its Opinion pages are independent of the News division. The paper’s news reporting does not in fact promote any agenda; but its editorials, naturally, take a stand. It’s a pity that someone affiliated with the UP CMC does not understand this basic, and liberating, distinction.—Eds.

I wish to say, first of all, that there was some misunderstanding. And I apologize because it was partly my fault.


The Inquirer’s full reply to a disgruntled reader in their November 27 issue was this:

Our headline was based on the remarks of the Pope as reported by international news organizations with solid reputations. It is our duty to report the news as it is. On this matter of the Pope’s remarks, the Inquirer does not promote any agenda.—Ed.

[emphasis added]

When the Inquirer said “[o]n this matter of the Pope’s remarks”, I mistakenly took it to mean that the Inquirer was speaking as an opinion maker, as an entity talking about an issue, a matter of public debate. It was as if the Inquirer said: “On the issue of the Pope’s remarks regarding condoms, the Inquirer — as a thinking and opining body — does not take any stand” — which, taken per se, could be deemed untrue, given the paper’s editorial. That’s why I reacted. If only the paper had said “in this report regarding the Pope’s remarks, the Inquirer does not promote any agenda”, I — and perhaps other readers as well — could have taken it in the way the Inquirer wanted it to mean.

Now allow me to dissect the Inquirer’s brief reply to my letter yesterday.

Anatomy of the Inquirer’s reply

“It is a point of pride for the Inquirer that its Opinion pages are independent of the News division. The paper’s news reporting does not in fact promote any agenda; but its editorials, naturally, take a stand.” Well, the Inquirer probably wouldn’t point out this obvious fact if there were no misunderstanding in the first place, as I mentioned above. But let’s consider their assertion nevertheless.

I happen to understand the (ideal) independence between the Inquirer’s News and Opinion sections. But as to the Inquirer’s claim that “[t]he paper’s news reporting does not in fact promote any agenda”, I may be justified to say that this is at least debatable. Even an amateur content analysis of the Inquirer’s photos and news pieces might be able to prove that the broadsheet is biased towards the RH advocates in its reportage. Indeed, when newspapers choose which stories to publish and with how much prominence and with what slant, they already somehow promote a particular agenda on their news pages. It’s inescapable.

As for the Inquirer’s personal attack against me — it’s a pity. What can I do? I’m just an ordinary reader. They’re juvenile demigods.

I’m just disappointed the Inquirer didn’t really address my letter’s arguments; they focused too much on journalism technicalities.

I have high hopes, however, that the Inquirer will again side with reason soon.

[Updated 12/01/11 12:14 pm]