Media under attack, must keep faith with public, say experts

UNDER ATTACK Manisha Tank, CNN international correspondent, urges media to stay true to its mission despite the culture of fake news. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY — Media must make sure they retain the public’s trust now that the free press was under attack and its integrity being questioned, a CNN international correspondent said here on Friday.

Speaking at the 2017 Media Congress of the Media Specialists Association of the Philippines held at Camp John Hay, Manisha Tank said the media was being besieged by “those who want you to believe that journalists are lying,” and by those who want to exploit the 21st century news culture where people no longer examine what they read.

“In this 21st century, much is being said, much is being shared,” Tank said. “Sometimes it is difficult to know which is real and what isn’t.  It is no longer about what the facts are, but what (people) are made to feel that affects the way [they react to a story],” she added.

Despite “more outlets than ever before that are spreading what looks like misinformation,” and “even if United States President [Donald] Trump continuously assailed the CNN during the presidential elections, it was still our news organization which Trump depended on for news,” Tank said, showing a photograph that had the US President watching CNN on three screens.

Trump, the 45th US president, looks at the media as being run by “really dishonest people and bad people,” she said.

“As you can see, he doesn’t like us very much, and not just CNN but a number of press organizations with specific activities and correspondents. But despite his assertions that CNN is fake news, Trump watches CNN and other networks,” Tank said.

Twitter

“When the channel disagrees with or disapproves his assertions, (Trump) counters by going straight to the people via Twitter, and undermines audience trust in all of us (by suggesting) that we are spreading fake news,” she added.

The correspondent said that CNN president Jeff Zucker had described Trump’s attacks on fake news as “talking about stories he doesn’t like as opposed to what is actually fake news.”

Thomas Jefferson

According to Tank, Trump was different from US President Thomas Jefferson who respected the free press despite a deluge of criticisms from media over his administration.

“Jefferson came under a lot of criticisms from members of the free press for whatever reasons. He could have attacked in the way we had seen attacks recently. But according to historians, that was not necessarily what he did,” Tank said.

Quoting Jefferson, she added: “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary to keep the waters pure.”

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