MANILA, AUGUST 2, 2012 (SUN STAR) BY Bong O. Wenceslao Candid Thoughts - I AGREE. President Noynoy Aquino was impolite and grating when he chose to deliver his tirade against Kabayan Noli de Castro during the 25th anniversary celebration of“TV Patrol.”

Platforms were available to him other than the ABS-CBN stage to attack de Castro. He is, after all, the president of this republic with all the government’s information machinery at his disposal.

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The grating part of his speech was his repetition of his attempt to manipulate media coverage of national concerns. The line about putting primacy to the “good and the beautiful” has been peddled before, roughly by the Great Imeldific and subtly by the late dictator who, in the ‘70s, concocted the phrase “development communication.”

To focus solely on the “good and beautiful” in a setup that is moribund and is in dire need of change is to be artificial.

But I used the term “solely focus” because uplifting stories could not also be trashed if objectivity in coverage is the goal.

To be fair, “TV Patrol” in the early stages of its 25 years of existence would not have zoomed to the top of the ratings had it not done some good things in its coverage.

But it soon lost its journalistic moorings, allowing the competition like GMA’s “24 Oras,” to overtake it in viewership.

There is reason for GMA News and Public Affairs’s use of the kilometric mantra of “walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan, walang kasinungalingan, serbisyong totoo lamang.”

It was a dig at its competitor’s tendency to gloss over ethical standards to “rate.”

The implication is that the competition plays favorites, protects somebody or a sector, lies and does not provide genuine service.

The slogan was coined at a time when “TV Patrol” was wallowing in its hubris, especially when de Castro strayed into politics and became a senator and later vice president (another ABS-CBN alum, Loren Legarda would follow suit, becoming senator), giving the network the image of a political power broker or “kingmaker.”

Sensationalism became its staple and the objectivity of its coverage was constantly questioned.

To arrest the downturn of TV Patrol ratings, ABS-CBN bigwigs threw caution to the wind by replacing less popular but less controversial anchors Julius Babao and Karen Davila with de Castro and Korina Sanchez.

Ted Failon was retained. De Castro (former senator and vice president) and Failon (former Leyte congressman) are ex-politicians while Korina is the wife of Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas.

That wouldn’t have been a problem had not TV Patrol distorted the six o’clock program by allowing its anchors to ad lib comments in what should have been a straight news format.

Their task in TV patrol is to read the news and, during live reports, to throw questions at reporters to clarify information and provide context not to inject their views.

It is in the giving of opinions that the three anchors get flogged, mainly because of their perceived political leanings.

It does not help that the three of them also host radio commentary programs, making it difficult for the public to differentiate their anchoring TV Patrol with their radio persona.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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