Wanted: Responsible Reporting On Religion
Reporting or coverage about religion should be made responsibly. As much as possible, religious journalism, like politics, must be independent from pressure and influence from any party.
These seem to be the united sentiment that can be drawn from the blogs and comment streams by people who believe that biased and irresponsible journalism is being served the public by several news stories made in the Philippines singularly all against the phenomenal preacher, Bro. Eliseo Soriano or Bro. Eli of the Ang Dating Daan television program.
One case in point is the recent attempt by Arnold Clavio through his docu-drama program Case Unclosed aired over GMA7 to make a documentary about a still on-going case of an alleged rape case filed by Daniel Veridiano (also known as Puto), who was excommunicated in the Members Church of God International due to various offenses.
Thankfully though, citizen journalists, bloggers and several members of the Ang Dating Daan, who can no longer swallow the persistent false reporting in the press and major television networks about Bro. Eli Soriano, stormed the cyberspace. With the help of technology, these people now have the means to open their hearts and voice their sentiments and criticisms against irresponsible reportage done by Mr. Clavio’s team.
Less Traveled Road blogger, Ms Jane Abao, has been posting her analysis about the kind of journalism done by Mr. Clavio. In her recent post, she immediately fired –
A giant TV network used a self-confessed serial rapist as a resource person recently to discuss a pending case he had filed against a fearless preacher known for exposing false practices…
Meanwhile, another citizen journalist with the alias vitaminB recently posted at CNN’s iReport.com about the convenience of filing rape to shot down leaders. According to the article, what’s happening to political leaders can also extend to religious preachers as well.
The Religious sector can also be influenced by this convenient form of character assault. Eliseo Soriano, a church leader of the Members Church of God International and a host of the international religious program, Ang Dating Daan (The Old path), was accused of rape by an excommunicated member of the sect. Daniel Veridiano, who later converted to another religious sect known for being strongly criticized by Soriano for their false teachings, sued Soriano for rape in September 2005. The case was shortly dismissed due to lack of evidence. The dismissed case was however filed again in higher court by the country’s Department of Justice Secretary, Raul Gonzales, who is not in anyway involved with the case.
vitaminB concluded that rape is being used to shot down good leaders and will continue as a trend.
As is the case always, the truth that should be reported in the mainstream are blocked or filtered by some influential parties.
For one, the Iglesia ni Cristo, the religious group persistently exposed for their false teachings and malpractices, is publicly known as a group which uses its bloc-voting power to influence the government and the media. But slow by slow, the public are being informed about its profit-making and deceitful schemes.
Without the new media, the blog posts and essays by these bloggers and citizen journalists about media irresponsibility might find it hard to go mainstream. Especially, if the reporting that is being made is an expose of religious malpractices and deceits. In fact, there is always the danger and threat of one being harassed legally and murdered when one reports about the weird doctrines and crimes of religious leaders.
Marcos Mataro, a host of the D’ X-Man program being aired at UNTV37, was the very latest casualty of being truthful as a journalist. He was killed for his unflinching expose of his former religion and leaders, the founders of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
Only in the cyberspace can one report about the truth about the buried crimes of these religious leaders. A blogger named Emily Jordan persistently write about these crimes of the deceased Manalo. Her article, Felix Manalo: Rapist of His Members and His Ministers’ Wives, will obviously shame the clan of Manalo.
In 1954, the newspaper The Bombshell published a three-part story concerning Felix Manalo, founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. The first part was published on October 21 with front page headline “IGLESIA NI CRISTO ‘HEAD’ ANGEL OR SEX MANIAC?” The article includes a letter of confession from a certain Rosita Trillanes who, according to her, was raped several times by Felix Manalo.
With the aid of technology and rise of citizen journalism, the once suppressed and filtered voices can now share the same platform used by professional journalists who write for establishments. In the cyberspace, even an unschooled blogger or citizen journalist will be heard and can command change and action.
But even with the rise of new breed of journalists and reporters on the Web, the basics of reporting and journalism remain: being fair, truthful, accurate and relevant. No amount of technology can influence or change these. With the power granted by technology to citizen journalists comes great responsibility. But responsible reporting can only be possible when the one reporting is imbued with clean and good conscience.