MANILA - While acknowledging the importance of the press in a democratic society, Danish Ambassador to the Philippines Jan Top Christensen said some media organizations tend to be negative in the way they report the news, especially on matters concerning the government.
Christensen spoke before a multi-stakeholder gathering on the safety of journalists, an event spearheaded by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and International Media Support, with funding from the European Union and Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I read many different media everyday and I must say some of these media are systematically negative,” Christensen said.
Christensen further stressed that “systematically negative” media are not able to present what the government is doing, a practice he attributed to poor compliance with journalism standards.
“To me, it’s lack of ethical standards, lack of professionalism,” he said.
Christensen, however, emphasized that the security and safety of journalists should not be overlooked.
He recognized that impunity is still a problem in the Philippines, citing the killing of journalists in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
“Media is seen as the fourth power in Denmark. Media is extremely important for [a] checks and balances system in a democratic society,” Christensen said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) for its part reiterated its concern on cases of killings and harassment of journalists and other media personalities.
NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina said there should be no distinction on cases if a victim is suspected of engaging in corrupt journalism practices.
“A killing is a killing. There is no justification,” Espina said.
The establishment of an industry-wide union was also suggested by columnist and former University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication Dean Luis Teodoro.
“It has never left our minds, but the killings are happening, we want to prioritize the safety of our colleagues first,” Espina said.
Other issues tackled during the forum include low wages in the industry, the rights of campus journalists, safety courses in colleges and universities, and government response to issues surrounding the security of media workers.