Home > Kahindik-hindik, Philippine Advertising > abs-cbn – not an impartial reporter of the ted failon news story

abs-cbn – not an impartial reporter of the ted failon news story

we agree, abs-cbn was not an impartial reporter of the ted failon news story.

abs-cbn had a very extensive coverage of the ted failon story. they were to be admired for it — they looked at all aspects of the story and spent a lot of time getting into the details of the various angles. they also had their most senior reporters do the interviews and with experts on the topics of the news coverage.

they also showed admirable finesse and respect in interviewing ted failon and his family members. we remember a segment where abs cbn senior reporter ces drilon interviewed ted failon and showed admirable restraint in the questions she asked and specially those she did not ask. there were many moments when ces did not ask questions, allowed ted to speak and she used a very calm and respectful tone. it was obvious ces was being very sensitive to the feelings and hurt of ted failon who was the husband of the woman who died.

while ces drilon showed remarkable professionalism and restraint, that by itself shows the bias of abs-cbn. kudos to ces, thumbs down to the abs-cbn news organization.

that was the only time we saw an abs-cbn reporter conduct an interview of the spouse of the victim with such professionalism and restraint. all the interviews we have seen on abs-cbn news programs on similar news involving ordinary citizens were brusque, disrespectful and over-dramatic. we often saw wailing relatives of victims, showing utter pain and sadness on camera even among children.

we can only conclude that the interview that ces conducted was done in such a manner only because she was interviewing ted failon, a member of their own organization.

even the comprehensive coverage that abs-cbn gave the failon story while by itself is excellent and admirable journalism, but that by itself is unprofessional. again, they do not usually give the kind of breathe and depth on their news stories. we think abs-cbn looked into all the minute details of the story only because it was ted failon’swife and not at all a usual practice of the news network. abs-cbn’s coverage of these types of news for victims not working for abs-cbn are typically meant only to capture a few sound bites to get the ratings in.

finally, a very clear proof of the bias of abs-cbn on the ted failon story can be seen in the visuals shown on tv. in this case, not just a thousand, but a million words showed their bias in favor of ted failon.

review the news programs specially in the first 5 days since the death of ted failon’s wife and you will see this bias in the pictures they were showing. the most glaring was the day when the police arrested failon’s relatives at the deathbed of his wife.

the director decided to air those horrific footages that showed police brutality over and over again during the ENTIRE news program. the director of the tv news program used snippets of the brutal arrests as bridge or segue visuals from segment to segment, complete with audio of screaming and hurt women.

was that really necessary?

showing those brutal footages over and over again were obviously meant to drive up hate and anger towards the police and generate sympathy towards the failons.

 it was meant to continually show how unfair and unlawful the police were. that effectively plants the seeds of doubt on whatever the police will be saying or doing on the matter.

we are not at all justifying or defending the police on that episode. we are clear on our views – it was a brutal arrest and uncalled for. the policemen and their superiors who conducted that arrest must be fired and put to jail.

but what media did to those footages is another matter. abs-cbn was obviously not just delivering facts and events to the public, they were editorializing and they did deliver a message and intended to shape public opinion from one to another.

there is an upside to the bias that abs-cbn showed in their tv shows – that they have the ability, they know how to dissect a news story into its parts and give the audience thorough and comprehensive coverage of the news. they also have news reporters, this one is ces drilon, who can be totally professional in the conduct of an interview.

but shame on abs-cbn for doing that only for ted failon and not for other news stories. abs-cbn had an agenda, it was pretty obvious. what they did was not meant for a news program but for an editorial or a feature/special report.  

there is irony in this whole thing.


Media critics score ABS-CBN coverage
By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—When reporting about a “Kapamilya” caught in a personal tragedy and a legal fix, how did ABS-CBN fare in the eyes of media industry critics?

For Vergel Santos, veteran journalist and chair of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the broadcast giant showed “a fraternal bias” for its top news anchor Ted Failonin its coverage of his wife’s violent death and the ensuing police investigation.

ABS-CBNseemed to have adopted a policy of questioning everything that the police said, according to CMFR Executive Director Melinda Quintos de Jesus.

This led to a “polarization” between Failon’s family and the authorities. “So the viewer could not decide what made sense in the incident.”

Luis Teodoro, former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication, shared the view: “It was a bit overdone especially on the part of ABS-CBN. There were stories that were repeated.”

read in full: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090424-201120/Media-critics-score-ABS-CBN-coverage

  1. Maria Ressa
    April 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    First, thank you for watching TV Patrol and Bandila (where the Ces interview with Ted aired). For the purpose of debate, I want to challenge both the Inquirer article and some of the reasons you used for your conclusions.

    On the Inquirer article, I find it funny that ABS-CBN was criticized for following the police while “the MEDIA” in general was praised for following the police! (Read the bottom part which talked about the footage of police arrests, and you’ll see that Inquirer didn’t write that that footage they praised was from ABS-CBN).

    I think you’d also be interested in knowing that the media critics they quoted also criticized the police, the Inquirer and GMA7, but all that was cut out of the article. I’ll be writing a letter of complaint to their ombudsman and editor-in-chief so stay tuned.

    As far as what you said about ABS-CBN interviews, I’d like to offer you other interviews and stories where we’ve focused as much, if not more attention, than we did on the Ted Failon story.

    Ces also did an exclusive interview with “Nicole” – the alleged rape victim. That was only part of a coverage that was so exhaustive that Bandila became the first Philippine newscast to be nominated for an Emmy – ranked the fourth best newscast in the world by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

    Karen Davila did an exclusive interview with Sandra Cam, the whistleblower against jueteng who was afraid for her life. Jing Castaneda did an exclusive interview with Joey De Venecia on the NBN-ZTE deal (both stories covered in depth for weeks). I can name many more, but of course, you would expect me to defend my news organization.

    You know that we broke the Proclamation 1017 stories, Danny Lim’s coup attempt, the Garci scandal, the Hyatt 10 (Ricky Carandang did a fantastic job with that exclusive and the exhaustive coverage following that).

    So, no, I think it’s flawed to say that we only covered Ted Failon because he’s our anchor. In fact, some critics said early on that we didn’t cover the story BECAUSE we were protecting our anchor. We gave that space early because he – like any victim of a family suicide – asked for it. DZBB, by the way, said it would also follow his request. That, however, was only good until the police began portraying the shooting as a possible murder attempt – what they called parricide.

    The picture I can’t get out of my mind is Col. Mabanag taking Trina’s letter and showing it to reporters, asking them to read it, then using it to fan himself.

    I only ask that you not take what’s written as gospel truth – both the Inquirer’s and what I’m writing now. Check it out. I know what I write you will stand up to scrutiny.

    • April 25, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      ms. ressa, thank you for your comment. we will respond to your comment in the next post.

      we watch TV Patrol andc not Bandila. we saw the wall to wall coverage of the death of ted failon’s wife at tv patrol. that was also where we saw the director use footages of the brutal arrest of ted failon’s family members at the hospital deathbed of his wife as segue and bridge footage from segement to segment in that news program.

    • toti fuentes
      April 26, 2009 at 9:11 am

      abs-cbn’s coverage of the ted failon story was obviously biased in favor of ted failon. while we think the police was surely on the wrong here, as a news organization, abs-cbn failed to be impartial and professional.

    • marie ledesma
      April 26, 2009 at 11:37 am

      dear miss ressa,

      is it possible for you to ask your news organization to cover what is happening at the ateneo grade school parking lot?

      the posts in this blog is saying nothing has been changed at the ateneo parking lot, that means ateneo seem to have decided it will not do anything to help improve safety at the school, making the possibility of another child getting killed at the parking lot a clear possibility.

      i know that all ateneo parents are very concerned and worried at this development at the ateneo.

      your tv station has previously aired news footages on amiel’s death, i believe this is a good follow-up to what you have done previously. please help us parents in preventing another death at the ateneo parking lot.

      thank you.

      marie ledesma, mom of a grade 6 student

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