A challenge to media

TO do a Philip Morris.

— That is, to make a campaign that also informs people about the possible dangers posed by one’s own industry. That’s my challenge to media today.

If the cigarette giant was able to put up an anti-smoking campaign, why can’t media educate their audiences about the nature and workings of their industry (including its bad tendencies, into which they should strive not to fall). Of course, media should not tread the unhappy path of Philip Morris, whose campaign reportedly backfired (to the delight of the firm’s revenue department).

In a society that is rapidly becoming more and more driven by information (wherein “retweets” and “likes” are rising to become the new currencies), media literacy (ML) among the public truly becomes an urgent social need. Given the frenzy of information that the Internet can provide, for example, people should be given the ability to make sense of such overwhelming amount of data. They should be able to arrange them into relevant units of knowledge based on well-founded criteria. They should be able to identify what is right and wrong in the gazillion media contents, filtering out the trash and retaining the gems.

Therefore, my suggestion to media networks is this: “Partner with a school of communication, an independent ML advocacy group, and the Department of Education to create a campaign that will complement the education department’s proposed media literacy module.” Imagine their logos printed on whatever nationally circulated materials of the ML module — that’s publicity for them and honest-to-goodness CSR!

Of course, that’ll be quite a bold act on the part of the media, because there’s that publicly-made and publicly-monitored commitment of truly living what they preach. None of the sponsoring media outfits’ journalists should ever get himself or herself involved in any unethical conduct, and each network as a whole should live up to the ethical standards it purports to support — otherwise its support for the media literacy program will lose moral weight.

Call that a challenge to improve Philippine culture.