IMAGINE a Cebu City with no journalists, no newspapers, no online news sites, no broadcast news networks. It’s not so difficult if one tries.
Just imagine no one covers Cebu City Hall—no one interviews the mayor and endures his language that’s like a zigzag road; no one listens to the proceedings (heated or not) at the City Council; no one reviews resolutions, proposed ordinances and approved ordinances; no one dissects the proposed or passed budget and agreements with private entities.
Imagine no columnists and radio talk-show commentators assailing erring public servants and abusive law enforcers.
Of course, in the age of social media, most politicians, if not all, have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Their stories, obviously published by their PR machines, are sanitized.
Sanitized stories, truthful or otherwise, could make their constituents dumb, species who are incapable of critical thinking.
Politicians and government officials who have something to hide and are often subjects of reports and commentaries could be overjoyed if they wake up one absurd day and find out that the world is empty of journalists (specifically, journalists who like to dig the truth, not those who love to copy and paste praise, er, press releases, or those who are fond of the he-said, she-said narrative style).
They would no longer have to file libel suits to silence critics and reporters and block the floodgates of truth. The prosecutor offices and courts would be unclogged of libel cases too.
Imagine also that there are no reporters in the field: The despair of villagers displaced by a blaze would not be heard and seen. The pain of families losing their loved ones in floods or storms would not be conveyed.
If there are no more reporters in the field, the name of the person lying in his own blood in the street after being gunned down by a masked killer would not be known by the public.
Who would like to live in a place where victims of crimes, homicide or non-homicide cases, are nameless?
In Cebu, most of the police units have a Facebook page. But just like with politicians, the posts are sanitized. Most often crimes like murders are not posted on the news feeds. The posts are all about community relations and successful anti-narcotics operations (the failed or controversial ones are not published for obvious reasons).
The world, or at least the news consumers, would not know the anguish felt by murder victims’ loved ones. That’s if there are no more journalists who would tell their stories.
Truth be told, the community press is in dire straits. Its lifeline is its community. If a community does not consider journalism an essential service, then it’s doomsday for a democratic society.
Just imagine a community that is constantly fed with lies and propaganda. That community could become a pandemonium of parrots.