Wednesday, January 18, 2006

eThIcS UnLiMiTeD

Note: This entry has been stalled for almost a month due to piles of workload in Development Communication 142 and Communication 140 subjects. Peace!

When the Yuletide season’s up and kicking high in the sky, everyone’s supposed to be gay and bright with the generous giving and sharing of blessings. But even when you’re (mis)placed about a few notches “higher than ground level” (and makes you nearer the sky, and therefore heaven?), surrounded by the most Christmas-eous ambiance of flaming torches, dashing gladiators in chariots, and cuddly baby Jesus in His swaddling clothes, you still can’t miss out the humanly flaws in this “divine” grace.

Consider this: The second our teacher dismissed us from an afternoon class, I dashed out quickly to take the next jeepney that would take me to Bethlehem’s alter ego, only to find out I would be trapped in a hellhole the next few hours.

I had taken up a media ethics class the previous semester. Whether I like it or not, a stinging voice in my head reminds me each time how to behave as a journalist whenever I’m thrown on-field for an article assignment. That day, I was in the company of older, more experienced, and expectedly more ethical media persons. To my dismay, I found out that they have either forgotten or have chosen to ignore the ethical standards of being in the media.

Rule on freebies: When you’re covering an event, it is a basic ethical rule not to accept freebies given only to you or to media persons covering the event. If it is given to everybody, it is safe. But to ask for it? And blatantly at that? “Oi, (motioning to the media escort), asa naman amoang freebies?” to quote one media person. Then without another word, grabbed the nearest giveaway the hand could reach and started thrusting the giveaways to other media persons. I was a neophyte and they didn’t know me that well yet so I was quite thankful that they didn’t pay attention to me at that moment. But then, another media person saw me and was feeling a bit generous that day so the media person said, “Give her one, too.” The escort gladly handed me the giveaway – not really expensive but utilitarian. It was as if the escort stuffed the giveaway into my mouth. I could not utter a word. He handed it to me with a wide smile (I could not fathom if it was genuine wholeheartedness, hypocrisy, or just plain submissiveness) and simply uttered, “Thank you.” I was about to refuse it but the escort got ahead of me and I didn’t want to appear ungrateful. I accepted it submissively.

To date, I still have that giveaway, making me feel sad that some people in the media bend the ethical rules and lower the ethical standards at times. I blame myself too, for not refusing it. But my greatest disappointment was that they have portrayed a wrong example. I was supposed to look up to them, recognizing their experience in the field. They were supposed to be mentors to younger and amateur media persons.

But well, what do I get for ranting and raving about something that won’t make those people hand the giveaway back? It’s ONLY ethics anyway. Where the greatest compromise lies with a not-so-great value of TRUST towards a not-so-important chunk of the PUBLIC.

If not for me, then doesn’t the society deserve better?

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