The cancelation of Christian Esguerra’s ANC show is a bad omen for PH journalism
The abrupt cancelation last week of Christian Esguerra’s nightly show “After The Fact” on ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) came as a shock to his loyal viewers and to netizens in general. Esguerra’s journalism credentials are impeccable.
Last 2019, Esguerra earned an Award of Distinction from the watchdog group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) for his work for ABS-CBN. The following year, he received the 2020 Marshall McLuhan fellowship from the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines and the CMFR.
With less than five weeks to go before Election Day, the important role of the media as a conduit for truthful information regarding the candidates’ track record cannot be overstated. However, a significant portion of the public seems to have a misunderstanding about the role the media should play during elections.
For example, supporters of former Senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. are frequently attacking journalists like Esguerra and many others for reporting on the unresolved issues involving their bet. Esguerra’s brand of journalism is actually a special type of public service.
Now, if a presidential candidate cannot handle tough questioning from journalists and debate moderators, how can they be expected to stand up for the nation’s interests? Journalists and media outlets are not supposed to make candidates look good. They have public relations and communication teams for that. It is also wrong to think that they should treat “both sides” or “all sides” in an issue equally.
As has been always said, if one camp says it is raining while the other one says it is not, the job of journalists is to go outside and know the truth. As stressed by the American Press Institute (API), neutrality is not a core principle of journalism.
“Being impartial or neutral is not a core principle of journalism. Because the journalist must make decisions, he or she is not and cannot be objective. But journalistic methods are objective,” the API explained. It is not clear if Esguerra resigned or was fired by ABS-CBN. It is possible that the network is trying to appease Marcos ahead of his likely victory in the presidential race for the sake of having a broadcast franchise again.
When media outlets are journalists are constrained from the work that they are supposed to do because of candidates and their rabid supporters, then the practice of journalism is in great danger.