Military enthusiasts have come to expect that the Philippine press will almost always get details about key Philippine military developments wrong. Gaffes such as incorrect use of terms (e.g., use of the term “tank” to refer to anything colored green and has armor) to erroneous descriptions of equipment (e.g., called T-28 Trojans “Tora-Toras” and reporting them as World War II vintage aircraft) are so common place, they now almost go unnoticed.
Arguably, the press tends to get away these errors because, in the end, the only readers who care about these factoids are people who are immersed in the defense establishment, either as professionals or as interested observers. These mistakes have been around for years, and save for over-done slaps on the forehead on the part of some readers . . . little harm is ever actually done.
Recently, however, there have been a series of reports whose deficiencies reflect a surprising level of irresponsibility on the part of journalists:
- Embellishment of articles with Wikipedia details, with little or no regard for whether or not the information was applicable to subject at hand
- Reporters who don’t even bother to understand the subject upon which they were reporting
- Mis-quotes and mis-attribution of information
If media practitioners can be so cavalier about defense reports, what shortcuts would they take with their other stories? Are preparation and research becoming optional for the journalists of today? Do editors no longer care if their people do the legwork required to put together a proper story?
The easy reaction to this perceived decline in report quality is to join the chorus of incessant complaints about all things Filipino, throw one’s arms in the air, and declare: “ganoon talaga ang ‘meeja'”. While that response is easy, it doesn’t really do anyone any good.
A healthy, responsible, press is an important part of a modern democracy. Government press releases, social media, and the blogosphere are all useful sources of information. But there is something to be said for information that is collected by professional journalists and vetted by, theoretically, knowledgeable and mature editors. If the gap between reality and the ideal really is widening, then this casts doubt on the usefulness of the Philippine press. Our democracy will be greatly diminished if this trend is allowed to continue.
This blog seeks to take an alternative track. It seeks to engage media practitioners in an effort to improve defense reporting, and in so doing, promote improvement in other areas of interest. This site is a modest attempt to remind the press that the quality of their writing matters.
This blog draws inspiration from a Website called: http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/. That site’s self-proclaimed charter is to help designers “Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design”. In the same vein, this blog hopes to encourage journalists to excel in their fields by providing examples of work by their peers who do the exact opposite and represent the bottom-of-the-barrel of their industry.
It is the author’s hope that site provides media practitioners with useful feedback about their work that they can help them improve their craft.