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Home Features News Analysis | Cardo, Romeo, Yasmin, Digong, and Bong: identity politics and...

News Analysis | Cardo, Romeo, Yasmin, Digong, and Bong: identity politics and framing at work over a TV franchise

Part I

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The frenzy over the renewal of TV giant ABS-CBN’s franchise has dragged an entire nation into what could have otherwise been an oftentimes overlooked procedure that the public rarely cares about, a Congressional process as mundane as buying fish from the market.

Or a nun tolling a bell.

Or a priest having a chick, not the colored ones, but those with busoms.

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It might be counter-intuitive to try to be objective or balanced about this issue when people expect one to choose between polar choices that could be either you are for or against ABS-CBN or you could be for or against Digong.

We are a small news organization and whatever stand we take may not matter much or may not matter at all for the powers-that-be or the media oligarchs.

I shall strive, however, to present this with as much honesty and candor.

For democracy depends on a press free from control, be it from the State, oligarchs or ideological interests.

After reading this you might take me to be a traitor to my previous ideology, a journalist-hating reporter or an ingrate.

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But a reporter should strive to be truthful even in times when most are afraid to point out the causes of our fear, to clarify if there is a need to be afraid or to make sense of an issue or if there are those who only prey on our fears.

It is expected of a journalist.

As Anthony Bourdain once said in his reporting on Israel, here goes nothing.

The Senate hearing yesterday has shown in full-color on live television beamed across the nation by ANC, an ABS-CBN subsidiary, some stark facts and has solidified issues that were once just bandied about in the mass media.

For several hours, lawmakers were split down the middle, apparently, some slanting questions for the network, others for President Duterte.

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By the day’s end, it was clear that what is now an acoustic war is between a network with the slogan “In the service of the Filipino” and a president with the motto “I will die for my country.”

Make no mistake.

Both sides are now engaged in heavy public relations, both trying to frame the issue, wanting the public to see it from their point of view.

Framing is what wins the acoustic war for hearts and minds.

Framing is a theory in communication studies that refers to the focusing on issues related to a particular topic.

In public relations, it is called “messaging,” also called packaging. In propaganda, it is referred to as “line and handling.”

In practical terms, the sender of the message, say ABS-CBN or the government, wants you to think like them.

For you to see that they, either government or ABS-CBN, is right.

It is related to a concept called cognitive dissonance.

Both sides want to draw you into its echo chamber or thought ghetto.

In short, the sender of the message wants you to think like them, to see things as they see it.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

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