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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Media Watch: Getting Priorities Straight

It was another busy week for me, which meant that writing would be difficult to impossible. It's a pity, though, and maybe a mercy. Even though there were a number of high-profile stories, I didn't want to write about them for a number of reasons.

Take, for example, the two showbiz headlines that are currently making waves, namely, Kris Aquino's very public spat with her ex-husband James Yap, and the other being the also-very public spat between Senator Chiz Escudero and the parents of his girlfriend, Heart Evangelista.

I don't want to rehash the details here, especially that of  the Aquino-Yap fight, since there's enough material out in cyberspace, and because I don't want to give Kris Aquino more attention than she actually deserves. As for the fight between Escudero and Evangelista's parents, I don't really have enough data to make a solid judgment or comment on that situation, and I lack the interest to do so.

What I want to focus on is the tendency of our media to over-hype certain events, which may or may not be of actual public interest. It's not as if Kris Aquino hasn't pulled off this kind of stunt; anyone remember her public rant about then-love Joey Marquez? At the same time, is this something that we really need to know.

Consider that the Aquino-Yap spat came out at the same time as the Philippine government's efforts to deal with the crisis in Sabah, a crisis it did not start but, because of its bungling efforts at diplomacy, has now spiraled out of control. Is it possible that the publicity created by the spat is meant to distract us from more serious matters? This is not the first time it has happened.

The problem here, of course, is that Filipinos have a strong emotional attachment to their celebrities, love or hate, and pay far more attention to the celebrities' foibles and events than to more serious matters.  Of course, Filipinos are going to be distracted over the Aquino-Yap spat; Kris Aquino alone has generated enough hate to keep the social networks twittering over her current situation.

At the same time, we have a serious situation in Sabah, and elections are coming up. A UP student killed herself, allegedly over her school's "no payment no enrollment" policy; the suicide has thrown a glaring spotlight over our educational system. Shouldn't we pay more attention to those rather than to an actress whose public tantrums and emotional outbursts have become rather commonplace?

Local media practitioners should set their priorities straight, and work on educating the masses by keeping them informed of current events and social issues, and not of showbiz personalities whose private lives should be kept that way.

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