POSTSCRIPT / December 24, 2017 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Mainstream media: Endangered species

A FELLOW writer asked me at our STAR Christmas party last Thursday how a media practitioner of long-standing like me sees the state of mass media as another yearend draws near under the present dispensation.

Many others have asked me the same question. My answer has not been pleasing to the ears, especially those cocked to catching only the merriment of Christmas and the lulling expressions of hope for the coming year despite the absence of a clear map out of the national mess.

Confining my assessment to our work as journalists, I shared these thoughts with my fellow writer at the party:

The media situation looks so discouraging that one sometimes feels like giving up. It looks pointless sorting out the confusing, combative rhetoric of politicos (aided by their PR operators) and trying to present a fair and balanced picture to the mass audience.

The administration seems bent on raiding and dividing media. This drive is an extension of its wider divisive campaign in the political arena where players are forced to take sides and stand whether friend or foe, with no one in-between in the classic somos o no somos categorization.

Many of us in mainstream media feel increasingly under pressure to become partisan and take sides.

The clash in our area is not between mainstream media and other public information sectors (such as the so-social media), but within each class. There is division within traditional print and within broadcast media, as there is also division in cyberspace among social media.

The divisive efforts of the administration have succeeded in fracturing — and destroying — the media. This is unfortunate.

The difference of opinion among media practitioners should be a healthy interplay. The honest and free exchange of ideas brings out the superior ones, which is good for society. But the harassing of critics and demonizing of perceived media foes are counterproductive.

The rules are wantonly violated when public funds are used to pay cyber warriors to hound those who assail the administration. And journalistic codes are cast aside when some media practitioners allow themselves to be co-opted and rewarded, sometimes with plum government posts.

A prominent personality with one leg in private media and another leg in government is an anomaly. He/she is an insult to the profession.

Government is supposed to unite, rather than to divide. It is execrable when leaders with populist pretensions move to divide and rule and use their cyber troops to harass and demonize those who speak up against abuses and violations of human rights.

Given just three years to capture the field before the 2019 midterm tipping point (after which it could be all downhill), those bent on consolidating power seem to be in a hurry – to avoid being sucked into the last option of imposing a Revolutionary Government.

Those in media who cannot take the pressure either ride it out till a more enlightened administration comes in, or allow themselves to be seduced (and get handsomely rewarded), or look for something else to do that is more spiritually fulfilling.

The state of media deserves a deeper analysis and more extensive discussion – certainly more than a Christmas party chat. But to summarize my forebodings, I strongly feel that members of traditional media have become an endangered species.

• ‘Christ at the Center of Time’

WE WON’T let this Sunday before the birth of Jesus pass without our greeting our readers a heartfelt Happy Christmas!

On this special day, we want to share this account of the sermon of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the 83-year-old Capuchin preacher of the pontifical household, who spoke Dec. 22 to Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Our report on his talk comes from ZENIT, the Vatican news service, to which we encourage our readers to also subscribe. Please go to

Cantalamessa said that the birth of Christ changed the concept of time, as He became the “central point” of time. But, he continued, the fundamental question for each person remains: “Is Christ also the center of my life?”

He said: “The question to start with is simple: Is Christ also the center of my life, of my small personal history? Of my time? Does He occupy in it a central place only in theory or also in fact?”

He explained that in the lives of most people, there is an event that divides life into a “before” and an “after.” Examples: marriage for married couples, ordination for priests, professions for the religious.

For the world, the event was the appearance of Christ. It even changed how we express time because Christ is at the center of time, Cantalamessa said.

“He is present in the Old Testament as figure, he is present in the New Testament as event, and he is present in the age of the Church as sacrament… The figure announces, anticipates, and prepares for the event, while the sacrament celebrates it, makes it present, actualizes it, and in a certain sense continues it.”

He invited all Christians “everywhere, at this very moment,” to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, “or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”

He stressed that this invitation is intended for everyone. He concluded by reminding listeners that the Church will focus attention on youth in the coming year, especially through the Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” in preparation for World Youth Day.

“Let us help them fill their youth with Christ, and we will have given them the most beautiful gift,” he said.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 24, 2017)

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