‘Fact-checking Duterte absolutely necessary at this time’

“Just because he is the president does not mean you don’t need to fact-check his claims.”


MANILA– A journalism educator urged citizens to be critical in consuming news and other information amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the third episode of Bulatlatan on April 8 via Zoom, Danilo Arao, also associate editor of Bulatlat, discussed the importance of media literacy at this time. He encouraged news consumers to know how media work, stressing that form, content and the process of gathering and producing news must be analyzed.

In checking the content, Arao advised citizens to look at accuracy, relevance and timeliness.

The University of the Philippines associate professor said that media literacy is the necessary due to the prevalence of ‘outright lies, misinformation, and disinformation’ circulating in the news.

Read: ‘Fake news’ mainly comes from gov’t agencies, officials – UP Prof

Context, context, context

Screengrab from the third episode of Bulatlatan on Media Literacy amid COVID19

Arao said that journalists should always provide context, especially when reporting the statements of President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials.

“The data might be correct, but there’s not enough context (in the article) to support such data,” said Arao.

He cited a news article quoting Duterte saying that he had warned the Filipinos about the COVID-19 ‘at the start.’ Arao said that while Duterte did say that, fact-checking the President who usually flip-flops in his statements, should always be done.

“Just because he is the president does not mean you don’t need to fact-check his claims,” Arao said. He stressed that although the article did state that Duterte earlier downplayed the COVID-19 threat, that information should have not been buried but included in the headline and lead instead.

Multi-sourcing should be encouraged

Arao also criticized the National Press Club (NPC) for encouraging people to only get their information from “official channels.”

In a news report, NPC Vice President Paul Gutierrez discouraged media from sourcing outside ‘official channels,’ claiming some sources are known to be ‘ sensationalized and have irresponsible framing.’

“By saying this, he is limiting journalists to single source instead of multiple sources,” Arao said, adding that Gutierrez failed to see how official news channels like the Philippine News Agency (PNA) are known to report misleading information.

In the case of the plight of Sitio San Roque as an example, Arao said media outfits should not only focus on the side of the authorities as they should take into account the side of the residents.

“Multi-sourcing is important to keep one’s objectivity in reporting,” Arao said.

“Media should always remain critical to maintain its independence. In the absence of freedom, it is the journalists duty to fight for its restoration,” he said. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

The slide presentation used during the lecture may be retrieved from https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.10355.48163
The recorded video of the online lecture may be retrieved from https://youtu.be/a-pqJWWqmLU.

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