A newspaper has been one of the traditional places where the so-called free market of ideas has been enshrined. People read newspapers — especially in the time of current socio-political changes — to take a step back from the daily grind of news, and to analyze and put these events into the proper perspective (no pun intended).
While each newspaper has its own political standpoint, it has always been an imperative to stick to the issues being discussed, and shy away from personal insults that will not only muddle the discussion, but will provoke the people involved.
The debate on abrogating the UP-DND accord is still ongoing. Many newspapers, including ours, are firm in its stance — we refuse the rushed withdrawal of this agreement. In pressing the point, no journalist in their right mind would bring personal insults to the fore.
But not Daily Tribune, a national broadsheet and the go-to paper for the Duterte-supporting elite. In an editorial released on Sunday, it decided to switch gears in its continued cheerleading for the Communist-hunting being done in UP.
It instead attacked how UPLB University Student Council chair Jainno Bongon talked in a recent interview with ANC Headstart. The editorial, titled “UPLB SC chair can’t speak proper English or Pilipino” (shouldn’t that be Filipino?), is complete with a distasteful caricature of Bongon.
Those who had the unfortunate luck of reading the editorial were faced with almost half of it being transcriptions of Bongon’s interview, which the Tribune claimed was riddled with “stammering and stuttering”.
“If that is how UP students speak, drastic reforms are badly needed in the state university,” the paper writes, even attacking Bongon as a person without the skills but had the gall to appear in national television.
While we know that the Daily Tribune is read by a dwindling number of those who find affinity with the current administration, it is disgusting to see a major newspaper publishing personal and even ableist attacks, and thinking they could get away with it.
It is a classic case of attacking the person if you cannot refute the argument anymore. Maybe the Tribune editors have been left with no choice, because their belief that UP should be co-opted by the government has been met with pushback.
Yet it is still deplorable for so-called “broadsheet journalists” to resort to such ad hominem attacks. Calling out people for stuttering reeks of ableism. Many public figures have often talked about their horrendous ordeal with stuttering, like Rep. Sarah Elago, even Joe Biden.
People have differing abilities in speaking and in writing. As a broadcaster of sorts, I know that speaking in front of the camera is nerve-racking, even if you do it weekly. Why would you use these personal foibles in the pulpit of public discourse?
But what would you expect from a newspaper, who — after all — continues to support a mass murderer and his poisonous tongue? The UPLB USC, along with countless other student leaders and activities, spoke way more sense and clarity than the old man in Malacañang.
And history shows how confused “journalists”, frightened to see their side being mercilessly slayed in the public debate, stoop to rambling insults.
What remains crystal clear is what Bongon said in the interview. Removing the UP-DND accord is an attack on the freedoms of students. Witch-hunting communists in universities wouldn’t stop the rebellion in the countryside. Disregarding social problems and continuing systemic violence will only fuel the armed struggle.
Do not let paid hacks muddle the real issues. [P]
Screengrab from ANC, DailyTribune
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