Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Be more sensitive, careful in reporting on HIV/AIDS

Dec 05, 2017

IT IS unfortunate that many media outfits, in the rush to get the news out, divulged what the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said was the supposed HIV-positive status of one of the suspects arrested in a raid at Bonifacio Global City over the weekend.

It is doubly unfortunate that many of the reports also inordinately focused on the suspects’ supposed gender preference and the reason for why they had gathered.

As has been pointed out by various quarters, there were apparent legal and ethical lines crossed – hopefully inadvertently – both by PDEA and the media outfi ts.

The central issue of the raid was, after all, the alleged sale, possession and use of illegal drugs. But while PDEA may have been the source of the extraneous information that saw more play than it warranted, the ultimate responsibility lies with media, especially with the gatekeepers.

This episode – and many more similar incidents of varying degrees – serves to highlight the glaring lack of knowledge among many journalists, from field reporters to gatekeepers, of the admittedly mind-boggling array of laws we need to navigate as well as the many ethical concerns we are faced with.

We believe it also underscores the need to review the directions reportage has been taking in this age when social media appears to deliver more information faster.

A particularly disturbing trend is the increasing use of graphic footage from closed circuit television, more and more of which show the actual moments of death or serious injury, contrary to established norms against presenting images or information that are too gory and may impinge on people’s dignity and right to privacy.

We call on media owners and managers to ensure that news staff , from editors to field reporters, receive continuing training and updates on the technical, legal and ethical knowledge and skills they need. We and, we are sure, other media organizations would be willing to sit down and help each other towards this goal.

(Statement of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines dated Dec. 1, 2017 signed by acting chair Atty. Jo M. Clemente)

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