What is the worth of an Exclusive Report? Is it equal to the life of another human being? In the case of the ABSCBN camera crew who watched a man being killed and did nothing – NOTHING AT ALL – to stop it, the answer is self evident. They will calmly step aside and film your death just so they can have something exciting, something EXCLUSIVE to report on television.
This raises the question of the role that media plays in our society. Is it still the guardian of the people’s welfare, or has commercial interests corrupted its values so that it has become nothing more than a business for its owners?
There are those who will argue that the job of media is simply to observe and report the happenings that they see. That they should not to be part of the news. That by doing this they serve the greater good. That journalists should remain as impartial witnesses to the events that shape our community.
In this particular case, that’s bullshit.
The killing that the ABSCBN crew filmed was not some history making event like the end of World War 2 or the landing of the first man on the moon. It was just another crime story. Stopping the attack and missing an “exclusive” would not have mattered to a world that’s already saturated with these kinds of stories.
Sadly, the only people that it could have really made a difference too was the family of the victim, who would have been home with his loved ones instead of the morgue if only the ABSCBN crew was less professional, and more human.
From where I stand, there is something fundamentally disturbing with the idea that someone can just ignore such a terrible crime, and justify it as being part of the job. What kind of fucked up profession are you in that requires you to lose all sense of value for the life of another person? And what kind of person are you that you would even accept something so twisted as just being one of those things? If the ability to stand by and watch as a man is stabbed again, and again, and again, and again until he falls to the ground and bleeds to death is part of your job description, then that is one seriously sick company you are working for.
And this, in a larger sense, is what’s actually scarier. What kind of the decision making process does ABSCBN have that allowed the footage to go on air? That the network did not see anything wrong with showing an actual murder on primetime television is clearly an indication of a much bigger problem within the company’s culture.
It shows that ABSCBN has lost its moral compass and is no longer a partner of the people in exposing the excesses of the rich and powerful, it has itself become too rich and powerful at the expense of the people. A parasite that feeds on the our worst instincts, our fears, our secret pleasures. And all the while preaching in that holier-than-thou voice that you are better than everyone else. Well, fuck you. We see through the mask now – and you are the sum total of everything that ugly and mean in this country.
Despite lofty promises of serving the Filipino, all ABSCBN is really doing is pandering to our basest instincts. The fact is, that footage was shown not because it had any news value, but because they knew it was the kind of footage that people want to see. Just like in its entertainment programs – sex, violence, and scandals have become staple fare because they know that it is what sells. It is what brings in the viewers. And viewers means money. Advertising money.
A 30-second spot on ABSCBN is worth hundreds of thousands of pesos. And for a top rating program like TV Patrol, that can add up to several millions of pesos per day. Because of its strong viewership numbers, companies are willing to pay this price because they know that millions of Filipinos are watching.
The question is, are these companies still going to support a program that sacrificed the life of another human being for the sake of ratings? For the sake of their advertising budgets? Will they continue to associate their products with a network that tacitly encourages this kind of unfeeling behavior from its employees? Will the advertising industry continue to subsidize murder?
(Note: For those who want to see the video, we are sorry to disappoint you but we will not be spreading it for the sake of the family of the victim. Thank you.)