Cre­ative re­port­ing

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - BY TIBS PALASAN

The two words “cre­ative” and “re­port­ing” are oxy­moron, the for­mer be­longs to the realm of lit­er­a­ture while the lat­ter to jour­nal­ism. But in the new­found world of so­cial me­dia, it seems the dis­tinc­tion be­tween the two has been blurred. It is a chal­lenge, in­deed a real chal­lenge for the read­ers to dis­tin­guish one from the other, and thus, dou­bly dif­fi­cult to fer­ret-out the truth from fic­tion.

Go­ing the rounds of the so­cial me­dia is a pic­ture of a snake, hang­ing from a twig, catch­ing by mouth , a fish in the river. Straight re­port­ing would sim­ply run this way : a snake was catch­ing the fish in the river to swal­low it into it’s belly.

Re­port­ing then, in the black and white tv news cast­ing, would have re­ported the scene as it is. The broad­sheets of the past would re­port the same. Although, ad­mit­tedly slant­ing of news has been com­mon since time im­memo­rial.

The so­cial me­dia have gone be­yond slant­ing of news. What we read in the so­cial me­dia to­day are grotesque form of re­port­ing, a com­bi­na­tion of facts and fic­tion, some sort of a cre­ative writ­ing, spiced-up with be­liev­able al­beit mis­lead­ing data.

That “snake catch­ing a fish in the river” has be­come an anal­ogy of the re­port­ing in the so­cial me­dia.

The snake was ac­tu­ally sav­ing the fish from drown­ing. In this view, the snake is the hero. Or, it can be re­ported as the fish is sav­ing the snake from hunger. An­other re­port­ing is pushed to the ex­treme : the river was re­ced­ing to al­low the fish to save the snake from hunger.

The re­port­ing in so­cial me­dia has turned jour­nal­ism in its head.

But truth does not de­pend on the in­ter­pre­ta­tion much more on the par­a­digm of the re­porter. Truth may be blurred or buried in the avalance of fake news, but it has a way of shin­ing in the dark pe­riod of his­tory.

The spec­ta­cle in the US Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing of Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ca­vanaugh is a case in point. Chris­tine Blasey Ford in a di­rect tes­ti­mony re­called the sex­ual as­sault on her by Brett Ca­vanaugh while they were in high school. In a de­fi­ant de­fense, Ca­vanaugh went on to paint a grand con­spir­acy hatched by the democrats.

Af­ter the tes­ti­mony of Chris­tine Blasey Ford, Pres­i­dent Trump had to con­cede that the the for­mer was truth­ful. Days af­ter, Trump went on into a ram­page against Chris­tine Blasey Ford as be­ing part of the grand con­spir­acy. Trump punc­tu­ated the at­tack with an apol­ogy to Brett Ca­vanaugh and his fam­ily for be­ing the vic­tim of the con­spir­acy.

The com­plete re­ver­sal was swift and sud­den, with­out any re­gard for the truth which days ago, Trump has spo­ken about.

The so­cial me­dia is now awash with write-ups con­jur­ing a demo­cratic con­spir­acy. Brett Ca­vanaugh, is now the vic­tim, and the real vic­tim, Chris­tine Blasey Ford is now the felon. We have the snake be­com­ing the vic­tim in the snake fish anal­ogy.

What is true in the US is also true in the Philip­pines. The stu­dents who are fed-up with the ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings are now the felons who paint a bad pic­ture of the Philip­pines. The ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings do not them­selves project a bad im­age for the Philip­pines. It is the protesters who trum­pet them who are taint­ing our im­age abroad.

These stu­dents, in the style of Mar­cosian tyranny, have been tagged the red-la­bel. His­tory re­peats it­self.

For­tu­nately , truth has way of telling a story. Chris­tine Blasey Ford, no mat­ter how truth is be­ing twisted, re­mains the vic­tim in this brouhaha. Her de­meanor dur­ing the tes­ti­mony tells of a story of a woman whose trauma she still car­ries. Body lan­guage speaks vol­umes of the truth.

Ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings, no mat­ter how re­port­ing is twisted, re­mains the sin­gu­lar bad spot in our in­ter­na­tional im­age. Take-out ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, there is no rea­son for protests. Truth will al­ways tell of the ex­tra-ju­di­cial killers as the snakes, and the protesters, the fishes.

Mean­while, the peo­ple will have a hard time distin­guish­ing truth from fic­tion.

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