SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Media and disproportions

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/27 August) – Certainly, the memory of the late Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo deserves a niche in the nation’s consciousness. But as in past instances where a public figure passed away the media, national television in particular, seems to have been overdoing its coverage of the event. Judging on the huge amount of time dedicated to it the viewing public tends to get the impression that nothing else of importance has happened since August 21, the day Robredo’s body was found.

Media’s response to Robredo’s death reminds me of how it acted when comedy king Rodolfo V. Quizon aka Dolphy passed away last month. TV networks tried to outdo each other in getting the latest details at the actor’s wake and fresh sound bites from his family and friends. A supposedly solemn occasion turned not exactly into a comic episode which Dolphy himself wound have loved but a not so subtle extension of the ratings war.

Such war finds another arena with Robredo’s death. This is not bad per se except that it has magnified the event beyond proportion. A sober, calibrated coverage would have sufficed to deliver the message that the secretary had left behind a legacy of good governance worthy of emulation. One need not overdo the coverage to the point of invading even the private grief of his loved ones, an act that borders on disrespect.

Our colleagues can take a cue or two from their American counterparts in maintaining a sober coverage of the passing of well-known figures. They would give ample time and space to such events but not at the expense of diminishing the significance of other stories.

But if we are to make sense of media’s overreaction to Robredo’s death, we can say that it is caused by the desperate need for heroes in these times. Like rain in summer, Robredo was a rarity among public officials. His qualities are an aberration in a system where wrongdoings often get rewarded than punished. He was a whiff of fresh air, so to speak.

Alas, while it feels good to hear every now and then the good things that Robredo had done for Naga City and the Department of Interior and Local Governments, the praises also remind us that there are many officials who don’t share his vision. For every Robredo, there are hundreds whose motives run counter to his.

It would take more than disproportionate coverage to correct these ills. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])

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