News for Sale

The Corruption and Commercialization of the Philippine Media, 2004 Edition

news4saleNo one in journalism will deny that media corruption exists. There is contention only in the extent of the corruption and the damage it causes. This book, a sequel to the 1998 publication, which is also entitled News for Sale, documents corruption as it takes place in the single most important political exercise in a democracy: elections.

This study shows both the remarkable continuity of the forms of media corruption as well as the new types of malfeasance that emerged in the 2004 campaign. As in the 1998 edition, this version of News for Sale relies heavily on documentation (such as rate cards of broadcast networks and solicitation letters sent by radio stations to politicians) and in-depth interviews with journalists, candidates, and the media handlers of politicians and political parties.

All the information that has been used here has been counter-checked with at least one other source. Moreover, the author used only information that her sources knew first hand. Some interviewees, however, refused to be identified by name, but in citing them, the author tried as much as possible to describe in what capacity the source was talking to her.

Chay Florentino-Hofileña, a veteran journalist and journalism educator, wrote both the 1998 and 2004 editions of News for Sale. This new edition was spurred by the realization that even as a large chunk of campaign budgets were going to political advertising, significant amounts of money were also being allocated to pay off journalists. Florentino-Hofileña also noted that because more and more celebrities entered politics, the entertainment press also strayed into political reporting. The forms of corruption that are the norm in the entertainment press were therefore introduced to the field of political coverage.

This book discusses outright corruption as well as more subtle conflict-of-interest situations that confront journalists and news executives. It is our hope that by bringing these problems out into the open, the media, the public, and the politicians can take steps to do something about them.

The media have emerged as probably the most important influence on how people vote. If the media do not perform well and if their coverage is skewed because of money and other considerations, then they do a disservice to citizens. They also stunt the development of electoral politics—and this could have tragic consequences on Philippine democracy.

The book is available at the PCIJ office. For more information, email or call (+632) 4319204.