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Friday Frontpage forum: Raining on Sunstar

 Andrea Lou H. Magnaye comments on a sun star crime report

  http://www.sunstar.com.ph/baguio/local-news/2013/06/09/more-anomalies-benguet-general-hospital-286575

 

            “This commentary only aims to discuss the article in the provided link above in accordance with the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics and the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct of the Philippine Press Institute. The article is about the malversation of funds and several anomalies that were discovered at Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) through an investigation conducted by the Provincial Government.

“Under the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics, a journalist “shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis.” Further, he/she “shall “recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.” Malversation of funds and other anomalies mentioned in the article are sensitive and critical issues that involve public interest; thus, getting the view from the other side is necessary. However, there is nothing in the article that expressly or impliedly states the act of the writer to perform the same. Likewise, the writer failed to exercise the necessary diligence and prudence in making sure that fairness to both parties is observed. The writer was not able to show Benguet General Hospital’s or Mr. Dison Balangue’s side of the story. Moreover, attempts to acquire the same for the sake of fairness and equality were not directly stated or implied.

            “Under III.2 of and the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct of the Philippine Press Institute, “single-source stories must be avoided as a rule.” In connection with the preceding paragraph, the writer only relied on the allegations of Provincial Legal Officer Danio Bolislis and the Provincial Government’s affidavit-complaint. The need to get more sources, especially from the other party involved in the issues, was not satisfied. The provision of the Code also mandates that a journalist “must strive at all times to ascertain the truth of sources’ assertions.” On the contrary, the writer plainly based the article on the allegations of the complainants; extra effort to validate, confirm, or get other views was not exerted.

            “Under the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics, a journalist “shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise.” Although the writer used the term “alleged” throughout the article, the previously discussed failure or omission to present Benguet General Hospital’s or Mr. Dison Balangue’s side also tends to taint the parties’ innocence. Likewise, the whole article appears to be favorable to the allegations of the Provincial Government and might be prejudicial to the other. The article might influence the public to believe that the allegations of the complainants are true, despite the pending actions in Court that have not been resolved by final judgment.”

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