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.