Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Responsibility cannot be legislated

The Philippine Congress is serious about passing the proposed right to reply bill to law.  The Senate passed its version, and the House of Representatives seems to be close to passing its own.  Obviously most, if not all media outlets, are against it.  The Philippine Daily Inquirer's editorial of February 23 touched on this issue.

In the last paragraph, it says (boldface, mine):

Most of the major newspapers, radio and TV stations have manuals of editorial policies that include provisions on the right of reply and on accuracy, objectivity and fairness. We urge the authors of the right of reply bill to withdraw it. Responsibility cannot be legislated. Government officials, politicians and the people in general will just have to trust in the responsibility, ethical uprightness and sense of fairness of publishers, editors and reporters in doing their work and exercising journalistic judgment and discretion.

Oddly enough, so many in media have advocated for the Reproductive Health Bill, (and many other laws) which is really none other than legislated responsibility.  Ain't it?  I do not see any difference.  Heck, I could replace the important words in that paragraph with words that pro-life groups use, and it will mean the same.

In the US, there is talk that the Fairness Doctrine will be revived.  This pertains much to public radio, but it seems some politicians want to revive it and apply the same to other media and even the internet (close to impossible, for the internet, I believe).  This FD might even be more encompassing than this right to reply bill in RP.  Another oddity is that many in media in the US are for its return -- although mostly from liberal talk radio who are getting slammed by conservative voices over the airwaves.  It is so bad for many of the liberal radio shows that they simply closed shop.  Rush Limbaugh (whom the One says Republican should not listen to) has a minimum of a little over 13 million weekly listeners to his The Rush Limbaugh Show.

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