Have you seen the photo of Mr. Demertio Vicente in the front page of Philippine Daily Inquirer today? Here’s the soft copy of their page one. Mr. Vicente, 70, was the third witness presented by the defense panel in the ongoing impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona before the Senate. Vicente claimed paying the taxes for the Marikina properties he purchased from the Corona family in 1990, Rappler.com reports.
The inquirer photo of Mr. Vicente carries this caption: “CHARACTER WITNESS: The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand.” Upon cursory view however, one would notice that the images on the right side are just enlarged versions of those of the left. In journalism school, we were taught that we should only use photos that convey emotion. The photo merely shows a man having difficulty articulating himself because he had suffered a stroke twice.
The webmaster of Get Real Philippines pointed out that Inquirer is (wittingly or not, I wish to add) making fun of Mr. Vicente’s appearance. This message was posted meanwhile in the PDI’s Twitter page (and retweeted by the Professional Heckler): “Spoke with editors. They said intention wasn’t to make fun. Those were only photos available.” That reasoning flies in the face of common sense.
It is safe to assume that PDI reporters and cameramen stayed in the Senate throughout the impeachment proceedings. In a major news event like that, media people are expected to take as many photos as he/she can (selection would follow, of course). Is Inquirer telling us that they only took two photos of Mr. Vicente? Totally unbelievable.
Under the “Minimize Harm” portion of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, media persons should “treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.” It also reiterated that journalists should:
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. (emphasis supplied)
PDI failed miserably in all these guidelines. For the sake of comparison, The Philippine Star has this picture of Mr. Vicente in today’s issue. Enough said.
PDI is a member of the Philippine Press Institute. Complains can be forwarded through these contact details:
PHILIPPINE PRESS INSTITUTE
Room 206, B.F. Condominium Building
A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila
Tels. 5279632, 5274478 Fax 5273390