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EDITORIAL POLICIES RELEVANT TO COVERING MUSLIM MINDANAO
 
     
 

Philippine Daily Inquirer's Manual of Editorial Policies

 
 


Section II. Basic Statement of Editorial Policy


For God

The Philippine Daily Inquirer believes in God, the Supreme Being of the Universe. But while the Inquirer believes in God, it also tolerates all religious beliefs. It does not advocate a particular religion or discriminate against those who have none.

For Pacifism and Non-Violence

The Inquirer is for pacifism and non-violence. It is for the peaceful settlement of international and intra-national disputes. It is for stricter gun control. It calls on all mass media, including the movies and television, to tone down violence in their publications and productions.

Section IV. Fairness and Objectivity

The use of labels

Use of label when it has a bearing on or relevance to the issue being discussed.

Do not use a label when it has no bearing on or relevance to the story.

Section VIII. Editorial Cartoons

Do not make fun of ethnic or racial characteristics in the drawing or the dialogue (the “balloons”).

Respect tribal and ethnic Filipinos. Do not make fun of their physical features. Depict them in their proper attire. Do not interchange costumes.

Section VIII. Columnists

Delicate topics, particularly those dealing with religion, race and minority groups, should be handled with great prudence and care. The columnists should always be aware of the dangers of bigotry. In no case should they criticize or ridicule another person on the basis of his or her religious beliefs, race, sexual preferences, etc.

Section XII. Canons of Taste for Journalists

Slurs on people

Avoid language that perpetuates racial stereotypes or is offensive to certain races.

Avoid language that denigrates certain religious. For example, there is no reason to call a bandit “a Muslim bandit” unless the fact of his being a Muslim is an essential factor in the story.

 
  ABS-CBN Standards Ethics Manual  
 


Some of the relevant provisions on newsgathering are quoted below:

Covering Crime

With coverage of crime, security and medical problems, we should offer ample context to help viewers assess the risk to their own health or safety, remaining mindful of the danger of inflating public fears through sensationalized reporting …

Police and crime stories should avoid dehumanising victims. Camera shots should be tasteful…

Threats and Claims of Responsibility

ABS-CBN does not encourage groups that use violence for political or other ends to use ABS-CBN as a publicity vehicle. .. Desk editors and reporters need to exercise judgment in deciding whether to report that statements or calls from such groups were received by ABS-CBN…

Covering Hostage/Barricade Situations

…(C)onsider whether describing or showing the actions or movements of law enforcement officers could tip off the hostage taker or barricaded person…

Avoid becoming part of the incident, ie putting yourself in a position where you are playing a role…

Covering Terrorism/Riots

In covering possible terrorist activities, it is important not to become a platform for propaganda…

The mere presence of the media can excite a crowd, and the presence of light can draw attention that might have been drawn in that direction…

Covering Religion

An attack carried out in the name of a religion should not cast suspicion on all followers of that creed. People who resort to violence are a minority in any religion. But the religious connection is relevant for our reporting if an attacker invokes spiritual beliefs or has links to a group that seeks religious justification for violence.

We should seek precision with religious descriptions. “Islamist”  indicates an emphasis on Muslim principles. The adjective “Islamic: refers primarily to the religion while “Muslim” has both religious and cultural connotations.

ABS-CBN reporters must resist the assumption that their cultural values, religious beliefs or social mores are the norm.

Stereotyping

Our language should be neutral and natural. We should avoid gratuitous references to appearance or attire, while recognizing the situations when these details are relevant.

Crime reporting requires particular care with race, sexual orientation and religion.

Covering War

We/Us/Our”: you should not use “we”, “us”, or “our” in referring to the military or the government, or to other side(s) as “they”. “them” or “their”.

“The Enemy”: you should not refer to any side as “the enemy”, or any country or side as “enemy territory”.

Reporting movements: as a rule you should not report that troops, vehicles, warplanes or missiles are en route to their target(s).m.com

 
     
  Reporting Racial and Comunal Tensions
Press Foundation of Asia - 1970
 
 

General Guidelines

1. Factual accuracy in a single story is no substitute for the total truth. A single story, which is factually accurate, can nonetheless be misleading.

2. Prejudice may sell newspapers but newspapers should resist the temptation to exploit human fears for commercial gain.

Recommendation: Editors in competition should consider meeting to evolve ground rules for moving race and communal divisions out of the market place.

3. In mixed societies, editors should be aware of the danger of feeding, by selective reporting, common prejudicial stereotypes about groups. Generalizations based on the behavior of an individual or a small number of individual are invariably unjust.

Recommendation: There should be a deliberate attempt to break false stereotypes by publication of stories that run counter to common prejudice. There should, in particular, be no irrelevant identification of communal groups in text or headlines, especially in court and crime stories.

4. Where there is potential for communal tension there should be a constant effort to investigate and expose the underlying causes.

Recommendation: Newspapers should check their columns from time to time to see how far they are themselves initiating inquiries and how far they are merely reacting to events and statements of politicians.

5. Statistics can be used to excite passion and should always be checked and interpreted.

6. All stories of communal, racial or religious nature should be scrupulously ascribed to their source. The authority of the source should be properly evaluated.

7.  Advertisements of an unfair discrimination nature should not be accepted.

8. Harm can be done by distortion in translation, especially in areas where several languages are spoken. Words and phrases may have different connotations among different groups.

Recommendation: Newspaper should ensure that their staff includes journalists knowing languages of the area. If this is not possible, care should be taken to get reliable translation. If there is a doubt about meaning, the doubt should be indicated in the news columns.

9. It is recognized that editorial comment, however, benign, does not necessarily compensate for the harm done by a misleading news report.

Recommendation: The impact of news is more immediate and deeper than that of the statement of editorial opinion.

10. Journalists should always use cool and moderate language, especially in headlines and also in display. No concession should be made rhetoric. Lurid and gory details and emotive reference to past history should be avoided.

11. In mixed societies where extra-territorial loyalties are often alleged and are a cause of tension, great care should be taken about stories imputing interference by a foreign power unless it is clearly established.

12. The traditional newspaper standards of checking for accuracy should be applied with even greater rigour in any stories involving racial, religious, or communal groups. Statements should not be accepted at face value from any source, including official source, and where necessary these should be accompanied in the news columns by corroboration and interpretation.

13. Unverified rumor is not the proper content of news columns. In particular, there is a great danger in speculation about violence.

Recommendation: Do not print or broadcast rumor. If rumor is prevalent, it must be checked and --- if found false --- contradicting as soon as possible by every media. Where possible, the sources of rumors should be traced. Contradiction should always be specific, i.e., the newspaper and radio should say “The water is safe to drink.”

14 When there is violence, particular care should be taken about publication of the first incidents.
 
     
  Workshop on Reporting for Peace in Mindanao
September 8-10, 1988
El Corazon Hotel, Cotabato City
 
 


Workshop Recommendations


1. It is suggested that rebels be simply labeled as rebels, etc. However, this would give rise to another need to fill a requirement of editors.

On the other hand, the word “Muslim” or “Christian” should be used only with reference to religion, religious rites, traditions or practices, thereby avoiding unnecessary and sensational uses of the terms.

2. It is suggested that reference to the rebel movement, for want of something to differentiate it from the communist movement, should be “Moro,” and not “Muslim.” It is also a fact that not all members of the MNLF are Muslims, because there are also Highlanders and Christians in the Moro rebel movement.

3. Criminal Elements. It is suggested that rebels, kidnappers, and other criminal elements be simply labeled as such, or to add to another word to localize the situation, like using the name of the place, e.g., Cotabato rebels, for purposes of clarity, or maybe the use of ethnic groups, e.g., “Tausug bandit,” or “Samal kidnappers,” which would again meet objections from some sectors in the community.

4. It is suggested that these perceptions of Mindanao journalists be relayed to Manila editors.

5. It was said that there is no Christian-Muslim conflict outside of religion. This calls for the elimination of the terms that would aggravate the situation in Mindanao, i.e., using Muslim to describe terrorists, secessionists, etc.

6. The Philippine Press Institute (PPI) is enjoined to act as conduit to apprise Manila editors of the true Mindanao situation.

7. Mindanao journalists recommend that Manila editors come to Mindanao as often as possible, and when they do, that their visits are coordinated by local publications and newsmen. This is recommended to enlighten Manila newspapermen on the situation in Mindanao.

8. It is also recommended that there should be a deliberate program to resolve the conflicts in Mindanao, and to “equalize” Christians and Muslims. Here, the commitments of Mindanao writers are solicited.

9. For Mindanao newspapers to have a vigorous relationship, it is recommended that a Mindanao media news exchange through the facilities of the PNA be arranged through Mr. Teodoro Benigno and PPI, if possible for free or at a minimal cost to provincial newsmen. This Mindanao news network, eventually, could ensure proper treatment of Mindanao news.

10. It is strongly suggested that developmental stories from Mindanao be given importance and prominence in the national dailies. More space for Mindanao is asked of national dailies.

11. Finally, the use of the word “Mindanaon” is recommended when referring to people of Mindanao collectively.

 
     
  Workshop on the Role of Media Reportage in the Peace Process, Unification and National Development
October 15-16, 1994
DAP, Tagaytay City
 
 


Reporters


1. Reporters must recommend to make “peace” a regular beat.

2. They must initiate regular roundtable discussions on the peace process (media, NGOs, government).

3. Reporters must look for the news angles. They should study and research on the peace process issues. They must likewise explore process reporting. They can link the broader social issues to the peace process.

4. Reporters should observe codes- KBP, PPI, etc. and take refresher courses on ethics, fair and just reporting.

5.Reporters must resort to ambush interviews only when necessary.

6. Reporters must cover on-site as much as possible with the help of government organizations or agencies and NGOs. Likewise, Manila reporters on field assignments should works with local reporters.

7. Reporters must develop more linkages with NGOs.

8. Reporters must work with NGOs to push for the FOIA passage.

Editors/ News Desks

1. News editors must be given an orientation on the peace process.

2. They should give reporters time and resources to develop stories on the peace process.

3. Editors should not twist, distort or take stories out of context including the writing of headlines.

4. Editors should see the value of NGOs as news sources; include them as a regular beat.

5. They should also assign and develop specialist reporter/s on the peace process.

6. They must develop desk capability to sort out story angles.

7. They should encourage more reports from the provinces.

8. They must cooperate with the KBP, PPI, etc. in the continuing training and evaluation in the media news process (ethics, libel laws); media-wide, in-house.

9. They must be open and oriented towards news as a process rather than mere event or series of events and news as issues rather than personalities.

Media Managers/ Owners

1. They should seek balance between profit and social responsibility.

2. They must also be given an orientation on the peace process.

3. They must also give an adequate support for peace reportage.

4. They must re-orient corporate and editorial policies towards more process or developmental reporting.

5. They should hold regular meeting with reporters.

6. They should make “peace” a regular beat.
 
     
  Source: AIJC. (2007). " Prejudice and Pride: News Media's Role in Promoting Tolerance."  
 
 
 
  MASS MEDIA AND MUSLIM MINDANAO
  Editorial Policies Relevant to Covering Muslim Mindanao
  Research Studies
on Media Coverage on Mindanao
 
     
     
 
  Copyright 2011 Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication