Independent media’s critical role in social transformation

Press freedom advocates hold rally on campus —PHILIPPINE COLLEGIAN WEBSITE

Remembering the Edsa people power uprising that toppled Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship 37 years ago—on Feb. 22-25, 1986—must include recognizing how the independent media played a key role in providing facts on the ground, which the people at large used to become proactive in molding their milieu. 

Ninoy Aquino’s assassination at the then Manila International Airport upon his return from exile on Aug. 21, 1983, and his massively attended wake and funeral were reported by the “mosquito press,” along with the national mourning that triggered and eventually led to almost-daily protest actions in various parts of the country. Even the results of the inquiry conducted by the Agrava Commission into Aquino’s murder, which the public found wanting, were reported.

Media censorship by the government somehow became restrained at that time, when populist activism found empowerment with real news and analytical views becoming available to the people. 

The rest is history. Marcos Sr.’s 21-year regime, highlighted by martial rule, ended in 1986. How then, in 2022, after only 36 years, could governance by his son and namesake get established, restoring power to the Marcos name despite the fact that many issues related to Marcos Sr.’s term remain unresolved? 

Big money

The phenomenon of social media, an open platform that can be effectively managed to push the agenda of vested interests, played and continues to play a dominant role. The use of vast financial resources can surely make a big difference in “creating social alternative realities.” 

This is what the independent media must counter.

Media independence is generally compromised against the backdrop of the pressure of money. Vested interests backed by big money can get to control the information dissemination infrastructure. In the heyday of the print media particularly, or given the huge overhead of broadcast networks, big advertisers and capitalists exerted considerable influence on news coverage and projection of views.

There is, therefore, an impetus to democratize the source of financing a news-and-views platform, to give a chance for independent journalism to survive. This is the real challenge that professional and independent journalists and like-minded advocates must confront. 

This kind of news-and-views platform can only be supported by broad-based paying subscribers believing in the pursuits of the independent media. It will be ideal if a value proposition is offered the subscriber base as well. 

A media platform “of the people, by the people and for the people” will be the only guarantee for a truly independent news-and-views undertaking. And that is essential for a truly authentic social transformation to get going.

Danilo S. Venida is a business consultant, virtual retiree, and active advocate of nonviolence. —Ed.

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