Patterns of Ownership

Analysis of the Philippine press must take into account the control of the press. Who owns the news organizations?

Philippine newspapers have owed their existence to the enterprise of the economic elite; those who could and can afford to support the press as a business enterprise. This background has imprinted all kinds of problems in the practice of journalism in the country as those who owned the media tended to use their news organization as a vehicle to promote their other business empires or to use it against competitors. An American scholar, John Lent, called this “media mogulry.” 

Despite this sorry background however a professional media elite provided a news service based on editorial autonomy, as their owners saw that the power of the press enterprise depended on the credibility of the news journalists reported. Unfortunately, this learning curve was disrupted when Ferdinand Marcos shut down the free press and replaced these with new media moguls among his family members and friends.

The vested interests continue to create problems for the free press in the Philippines, and has in fact weakened the institutional strength of a press community that had established a proud history of standing up to the excesses of state power and speaking truth to power.

Today, citizens in their capacity as media audience should be more attentive to the control of editorial content imposed by the political interests of their owners.

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