This is probably why despite my obvious inability to tell the difference between algebra and gibberish, I would have chosen Engineering over Mass Communications if they were the only two courses left in college. Obviously, I am not a brave soul and I do not want to suffer the same slow, painful prelude to death that I suppose many journalists have had to endure.
My own cowardice however only serves to heighten my admiration for the people of print and broadcast media. It is not just their courage that I find amazing. It is also the fact that many of those employed by provincial newspapers and radio stations continue to risk their necks and limbs for a pittance. Why on earth would they want to court danger when they can’t even afford to buy a bulletproof vest or insurance? Their outright disregard for their safety could only mean that they have such deep passion for the truth that, rather than bury the truth, they would have themselves buried instead.
Apparently though, the dawn of the ratings war in radio and television has changed the face of journalism forever. It is no longer just about accuracy and integrity. It is also about who has the whitest smile, the best pose and the most impressive overemphatic articulation. I thought I would never see the day when journalists would pose in front of cameras displaying false gravity and atrocious fashion.
I suppose though that sensationalizing the exterior of journalists and their news shows would have been bearable considering that different stations and channels do report the same events so the only real way to draw viewers and advertisers would be to parade like peacocks. What is thoroughly unacceptable though is when the news too gets painted. With due respect to the men and women of the media, they do continue to report the facts. The many different angles in which they do so however have shaped exaggerated public opinions.
Case in point: I once admired a radio broadcaster for his fiery attacks on a corrupt government official who had been reaping the benefits of construction job contracts. The broadcaster was so good at spewing fire, brimstone and spittle that within a few years, he had turned a great number of people to his side. People believed in him so much that he got himself elected to a government position from where he continued to throw stones at his political target.
After a few more months of aggressive monologues on air, the broadcaster began receiving death threats. His car got shot at a couple of times and the service vehicle of his station got torched. He hasn’t been heard on air ever since. For a moment I thought he had finally gone belly up and his loyal supporters would finally have to don black shirts bearing his face, take to the streets and irritate stalled motorists in the name of justice. Rumor has it though that the broadcaster turned politician had to resign from his job as a broadcaster because it was found out that he had been the one sending himself death threats. Apparently, he was also the one who stuck bullets on his own car and burned his station’s vehicle.
I don’t know if all the rumors are true but if they are, that would make me feel like shit. He reminds me of Spiderman’s Jonah Jameson, nearly turning an entire city against the Crocodileman in city hall, but the similarity ends there. Jonah never went hunting for spiderwebs to lie on and claim victim status. Isn’t it a pity that a former guardian of truth is now as diseased as his political adversary?