The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Sunday denounced the editorial cartoon of a newspaper that appeared to encourage the military’s red-tagging of government critics and progressive groups.
In a statement on October 25, NUJP described the editorial cartoon of Manila Times which was titled
“The Many Faces of Local Communists” as a “disgrace to journalism.”
The editorial cartoon of the long-running broadsheet showed a man wearing a shirt and a hat bearing the symbols of communism. He was also painting mask that were labeled lawmakers, feminists, activists, educators, clergy, artists and journalists.
“Shame on the Manila Times for running an editorial cartoon that parrots the mindless red tagging by government of critics and dissenters. The cartoon, titled ‘The many faces of local communists,’ shows a communist rebel apparently painting masks to be worn by figures labeled lawmakers, feminists, activists, educators, clergy, artists and, yes, journalists,” the organization said.
[Statement] A disgrace to journalism
Shame on the Manila Times for running an editorial cartoon that parrots the mindless red tagging by government of critics and dissenters. pic.twitter.com/nIT2eVQs0a
— NUJP (@nujp) October 25, 2020
NUJP noted that given that it is still a news organization, the Manila Times should have tackled the issue of red-tagging with “more depth” than a mere “cartoonish vilification” of the figures of Filipinos cited in the editorial cartoon.
“We do not begrudge the Times its biases and the, undoubtedly, millions of reasons for this. But we do expect it, since it does claim to still be a news organization, to tackle issues with more depth than this cartoonish vilification of a large cross-section of Philippine society, sans context and, most important, evidence,” it said.
Such published material also placed the lives of thousands of Filipinos at risk, which NUJP described as the “greatest disservice to the profession” and the public.
“Worst of all, by totally ignoring the most basic tenets of journalism, it has placed hundreds, nay, thousands, of Filipino lives in the crosshairs of government and its state forces. This, most of all, is its greatest disservice to the profession and to the Filipino people and nation,” it said.
What journalists said
Veteran journalist and NUJP chair Nonoy Espina likewise expressed alarm over the editorial cartoon on Twitter.
When media joins the mindless red tagging. 😬 pic.twitter.com/wpvQQl3FDr
— nonoy espina (@EspinaNonoy) October 25, 2020
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN reporter Josiah Antonio cited the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists which he stated the old media outfit did not abide to.
Remember SPJ Code of Ethics. Second main rule is MINIMIZE HARM. The nerve of this media outfit to red tag even their colleagues is just peak irresponsible journalism. This can endanger the safety of the people. #DefendPressFreedom https://t.co/B7VVBLDhkS pic.twitter.com/L85HXB3Lrn
— Josiah Antonio (@josiahvantonio) October 25, 2020
The second rule of the SPJ Code of Ethics mainly stated that:
“Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.”
One of the specific principles also stated that journalists should:
“Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.”
A Twitter user who introduced himself as a cartoonist with the handle @cartoonistzach addressed the editorial cartoonist whom he described as “a disgrace to Philippine journalism.”
“This cartoonist is a disgrace to Philippine journalism for amplifying the propaganda of the Duterte administration. He was even one of the invited cartoonists when @CartooningPeace visited Manila, as he was regarded as an ‘ambassador of free speech.’ He showed his true colors,” the user said.