President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday (March 30) underscored the importance of truthful reporting, during the opening of the Publish Asia 2016 Conference at the Manila Hotel.
In his speech before the participants of the two-day event organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the President emphasized the need to deliver the right information that will empower citizenries and nations.
"By far and large, you—the press—already have our people’s trust. This alone reflects the magnitude of your responsibility to wider society: to disseminate information, instead of speculation; to foster higher levels of discourse, instead of becoming a rumor mill; to empower citizenries and nations, instead of tearing them down. It is my deepest hope that you will never forget this—that, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world, you live and work accordingly, with the greater good of the public in mind," he said.
The Chief Executive noted that the job of journalists has become much more complicated due to the need to expand their operations to new media forms, which have their own limitations in terms of dissemination.
“At the same time, dissemination does not matter so much as your most basic responsibility, which is to deliver information—information that the people can trust, that can lead to fruitful discussions on issues of national and global importance, and that can even lead to positive transformation. This is the value and the service that you must provide," he continued.
President Aquino also pointed out the danger of losing credibility in favor of sensational headlines and stories to boost sales.
"It is when the distinction between opinion and straightforward news-telling that your profession and there is a blurring of that line, it is then that your profession is endangered. This is not only a matter of principle; it is also about practicality,” he said.
Citing an example, he said that sensational headlines and articles might increase a publication’s circulation marginally but once readers notice this, they will seek out alternative sources of information.
The President further noted the role of the media in the May elections.
"Media, and perhaps especially print media, has a special role to play before, during, and after our elections—as it does at any critical time in even your own countries. We Filipinos will need a just, comprehensive accounting of this historic time, and you are in the best position to do that," he said.
President of WAN-IFRA, Bangkok Post editor-in-chief Pichai Chuensuksawadi, delivered the welcome remarks.
The conference carries the theme, “Mapping Challenges and Opportunities in the New Asian Media Game”.
The WAN-IFRA, a global network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, aims to defend and promote press freedom, clear the way to innovation and help independent news publishing companies to succeed in their transformation process, increase their business and perform their crucial role in open societies. (PCOO News Release)