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  POWER OF MEDIA  
 
The power of mass media is derived from its omnipresence especially with the advent of new information and communication technologies. As the most credible among communication channels, mass media have the widest reach and penetration and are regarded as primary sources of news and information. 

Media are also recognized as a force for social cohesion and cultural homogeneity (Meyrowitz, 1985) (Dayan and Katz, 1992). They have distinct effects on the structure and exercise of political power. Several critical communication theories refer to media as a major player in the ideological struggle (McQuail, 1987). Media are also seen as actors in the policymaking process, playing a role in agenda setting. “The mass media may not be successful in telling us what to think, but they are successful in telling us what to think about.” (Shaw and McCombs, 1997).

Amidst the recognition of media power is the realization that OBJECTIVITY, which until recently was an unquestioned aphorism in the journalism profession, has no empirical referent.  As one Filipino social scientist explained:

“Every observer, whether journalist or a social scientist, already has a mind-set on or mechanism in his mind which he utilizes in reporting. There is no such thing as blind observation because every observation is based on a particular bed of values, beliefs, orientations and attitudes engendered by many years of socialization of both the journalist and the social scientist.

“The choice, therefore, of what to report, or what to write about is dependent on the journalist’s perception of what is relevant, what is important, what is right and what is wrong (Carlos, C.,2003). “

 
 
 
 

IMPROVING UNDERSTANDING

 
 


The issue of the Muslim-Christian divide has been with us for decades but there does not seem to be much progress in improving understanding and working out solutions to the critical issues affecting the decades-old conflict. Past peace processes have made short shrift of the importance of mass media in establishing consensus among protagonists.

The media have primarily functioned as a purveyor of events. Thus, they have neglected the more important role of investigating facts and issues, providing a forum for dialogue, examining processes, and providing needed information for problem-solving.

More significantly, media have perpetuated the negative stereotypes, biases and limited view of Muslim Filipinos and the issues involved in Muslim Mindanao.

While media can breed prejudice, however, they can also be a potent force in counteracting this mindset. Today, media needs to take up its problem-solving function seriously. It must proactively serve as a powerful medium and forum in constructing ways toward achieving a more lasting solution to the conflict in Mindanao and in reducing further bias and discrimination, rather than pitting personalities and cultures against each other.

Mass media’s inability or difficulty in performing these desired roles can be largely attributed to a lack, or even absence, of knowledge of the Muslim Filipino’s history, religion, and culture, among others. Some journalists, especially those who are Manila-based, write or produce news stories even without understanding the socio-cultural and political context of Mindanao issues. Their information sources are often limited to “traditional” mainstream opinion leaders.

 
 
 
 

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

 
 


General Objective:

The project aims to build the competence of print, broadcast or online journalists and other communicators covering or writing about Muslim affairs by providing them with a website that will enable them to provide context and present broad and diverse perspectives on the issues and concerns of and about Muslims in the Philippines.

Specific Objectives:

  1. To develop and maintain a website that caters to the information needs of journalists and other communicators covering Muslim affairs

  2. To provide an online resource that features essential and explanatory information on the history, culture, religion, political setup and socio-economic profile of Muslim Filipinos
  1. To serve as a medium for dialogue and public discourse toward developing a common understanding and consensus on critical issues concerning Muslim Mindanao.
 
     
 

PROJECT PROPONENT

 
 


The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication implements the website that will serve as a ready tool for journalists and communicators writing or covering Muslim Filipinos and Muslim Mindanao. Initial funding has been provided by UNESCO.

In implementing the project, AIJC draws from its rich experience not only in training journalists and communicators but also in consultancy work on Muslim issues. In 2002, the Institute published the book, Muslim and Christian Cultures: In Search of Commonalities. This was the result of more than a year of research and forums focusing on “discovering” commonalities between Muslim and Christian Filipinos in such areas as religion, family life, education, environment (resource management), and laws.

AIJC started conducting research on the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (Shari’a Courts) prior to the design of a Comprehensive Information-Education-Communication Plan and development of print IEC materials on CMPL/Shari’a Courts.

In early 2007 the AIJC completed the research-cum-policy paper “Prejudice and Pride: News Media’s Role in Promoting Tolerance.” This was followed by a related study on prejudice that focused on Filipino movies with Muslim themes.

Meanwhile, AIJC officials and faculty members continue to write articles on Mindanao issues through columns and research and policy papers. They also serve as consultants to development programs and projects situated in Mindanao in such areas as access to justice, fisheries (coastal) resource management, renewable and rural energy, and education and literacy.

 
     
  EDITORIAL GUIDELINES & CRITERIA  
 

1. Promotes the common good as overall goal and the values of social justice, openness, transparency, tolerance, and subsidiarity.

2. Adopts a comprehensive development framework in analysis of issues by showing the inter-relationship between the socio-cultural with the economic and political aspects.

3. Provides a balanced and realistic picture of the history and culture, including the ongoing conflict.

4. Demonstrates the centrality of communication in peace building and peacemaking.

5. Uses the platform of dialogue and consultation.

6. Provides a balance between content, eg events, personalities, opinions, with processes, eg policy and reforms, frameworks and guidelines, research and analysis

7. Utilizes human interest stories and light anecdotes in presenting material.

8. Provides advice and counsel from experts especially on controversial issues.

9. Involves scholars from various disciplines and ideological persuasions.

10. Provides cross-cultural examples in peace-building and conflict resolution

11. Endeavors to present all sides in a controversy.           

12. Avoids statements and content in any format that incite violence, hatred, and prejudice.

 
     
  PROJECT TEAM, 2008  
 

Project Director:                        RAMON R. TUAZON
Project Manager:                      ANN LOURDES C. LOPEZ
Assistant Project Manager :       LOREGENE M. MACAPUGAY

Editorial Advisory Board:            FLORANGEL ROSARIO-BRAID, PhD
                                               ERIC CANOY
                                               CARLOS H. CONDE
                                               WILLIAM M. ESPOSO+
                                               MIRIAM CORONEL-FERRER
                                               DATU MICHAEL O. MASTURA
                                               JOSE L. PAVIA+
                                               AMINA T. RASUL
                                               CHITO B. SALAZAR, PhD
                                               SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, Jr.
                                               SAMUEL K. TAN, PhD

Editor in Chief:                          ANN LOURDES C. LOPEZ
Editorial Consultant:                  SAMIRA ALI GUTOC-TOMAWIS
Contributing Editor:                    NIMFA D. CAMUA
Researcher-Writer:                    SOWAIB M. BENASING
Editorial Assistant:                    MAY M. LUBID
Webmaster:                              ZANDRO R. ESPOLONG

 
 

 
     
 
 
ABOUT THE PROJECT
 
 
 
  Editorial Guidelines & Criteria
  Project Team, 2008
 
     
 
  Copyright 2011 Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication