Poorer countries show lower trust in traditional media compared to “advanced Western countries,” said 2017 Marshall McLuhan fellow Manuel Mogato last Feb. 22 at Silliman University Audio-Visual Theater.
Mogato, correspondent for the international news agency Reuters, cited a Reuters study showing the level of trust in traditional media among 36 countries. Traditional media refers to the conventional means of mass communication such as radio, television and newspaper.
“Actually, the survey says that in most advanced Western countries, people trust the traditional media more than social media; but in poorer countries like Indonesia and perhaps the Philippines, there is a high mistrust in traditional media,” he said.
Mogato cited studies that show the revenue of newspaper industry is declining while the revenue of online sources is rising.
He said online platforms, especially social media, are vulnerable to fake news which could distort reality and deceive people.
“The biggest problem, I think is the critical thinking. Yung more developed countries, mas nag iisip yung tao nila. Bago paniwalaan yung tsismis or mga nagsprespread in social media, iniisip nila tama kaya ito baka hindi tama, [Before they believe gossips, or anything viral in social media, they first ask themselves if is true.]” Mogato said.
He said that the Philippine culture of “tsimis” has made Filipinos easily believe and pass on twisted stories.
“Kaya may mistrust because they think the media is corrupt, controlled, working for interest groups,” he said.
Mogato added, “Especially kung yung information is something very controversial. Masyadong mababa ang critical thinking sa mga poor countries compared sa developed countries.”
In line with this, Mogato said one of the biggest problems is when [Presidential Communications Operations Office] portrays media as journalists paid by the opponents of the administration, labelling them as “dilawan.”
He continued that some bloggers like Mocha Uson try to discredit traditional media by saying they put the President and the Philippines in a bad light.
“… But actually we are trained to tell the truth and be the watchdogs of our country. Yun ang totoo, kaya dapat mataas yung trust level,” Mogato said.
According to Mogato, fake news spread easily because stories in social media can be posted easily even without providing the full context. One-sided stories that may have been sensationalized or twisted could easily spread.
On the other hand, stories by traditional media take time before they are released to the public. Before reporting, journalists verify their facts and complete the full details of the story. Mogato said that by the time it is released, the public already believe the one-sided news spreading in social media.
Media literacy and rebuilding trust
He then said that the solution to address fake news is to teach a “higher level” of media literacy among students. He said that instead of focusing on the history of media, students should be taught how to spot fake news and think critically.
Another solution, according to Mogato, is for journalists to regain the trust of the public by continually sticking to the facts and report with accuracy, fairness and without bias.
“… But I’m sure in the end, the truth shall prevail. Kung anong totoo talaga, yun talaga ang lalabas. So I’m still optimistic that the traditional media will still prevail and will endure; it will last,” he said.
Embassy of Canada annually names as Marshall McLuhan awardee one Filipino journalist who has published “an outstanding piece of investigative report” or possesses journalistic works that bring positive changes in the society.
According to GMA News on Sept. 28 2017, Mogato was given the award for having published “some of the most explosive events under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration for international news agency Reuters.”
Mogato held a series of lectures entitled, “Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news and challenges of accountability in the new media.”