The Philippine Star

The New York Times decided early this year to launch its “The Truth is Hard” campaign at the 89th Academy Awards or the Oscars. A statement by the paper’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., explained: “in a world where there is so much uncertainty about what is real and what is fake news, we remain steadfastly committed to a search for the truth.”

The two-part ad campaign of the media organization for the year states the reason why the role of journalism to deliver the truth is so important, and how journalists – New York Time photographers and reporter – go about all over the world to uncover the truth and bring this to the rest of humanity.

The full-page newspaper ad carries a series of statements about “truth” starting with “The truth is hard.” and ending with “The truth is more important now than ever.” Coinciding, a 30-second spot played on television where a collection of comments could be heard while a series of “The truth …” statements played on the screen, ending of course, with “The
truth is more important now than ever.”

The New York Times’ truth campaign comes as a decision to boost the paper’s branding initiative and to support marketing efforts in the long term to bring about a better revenue stream from online subscriptions and advertisements.

The campaign also recognizes the changing landscape of news dissemination these days where hard print is slowly losing its relevance in the midst of social and digital media. More importantly, the media outlet differentiates itself from those who take on the role of newsmakers but without the proper credentials.

“News” makers

The ad campaign is also seen as a strong admonishment on U.S. president Donald Trump and his almost daily tweets that dish out statements on just about any topic, but which, because of his position, carry strong implications on policy matters.

The Philippines also has its own versions of Trump, where people that President Duterte entrusted key and sensitive positions have been time and again caught dishing out statements that are not true.

Of course, Trump and our local version are not to be regarded as trends. Rather, we can also correlate the fight for truth in news dissemination to the rising number of fake news from individuals and organizations that take advantage of “free” digital media.

Of course, we do get good bloggers or social media personalities that act credibly and responsibly, but self censorship is not something that is yet ingrained and institutionalized in these new forms of “news” media, unlike what is instilled in such media organizations as the New York Times.

Truth and justice

We can also relate the campaign for truth in other aspects of modern life, and this has never been more apparent in the unexplained and wronged deaths of individuals, purportedly at the behest of powerful politicians or business conglomerates that operate beyond ethical standards.

Amnesty International and similar organizations have also continuing campaigns to unmask the perpetuators of murders and massacres, often motivated by desire to wield and keep power or for more money, or by extreme ideological beliefs.

There are countless journalists who have devoted their lives to the search for the truth, recognized no less than through the Pulitzer Prize and similar award-giving bodies. Their incisive reports have contributed to shaping knowledge of society on critical issues.

Trivia: The New York Times has received 122 Pulitzer Prizes in various categories. The latest is by Daniel Berehulak, in the Breaking News Photography category, for his powerful images showing the callous disregard for human life in the Philippines in its campaign against drug users and pushers.

Reader on jeepney modernization

In view of the government’s plan to modernize the iconic jeepney of the Philippines’ commuter landscape, we bring a letter by one of our readers, Raymond Tumao. I hope his questions below are answered by the concerned government agencies. Here goes.

“After reading an article … about the cost of jeep modernization, please allow me to post my questions to the people of the Departments of Finance and Transportation.

“1. Since this cost shall be made available by the government and private financial institutions through a lending program, will there be a “government subsidized rate” to make the jeepney replacement viable?

“2. Will these institutions allow this fund to be used to erect new jeepney stops and terminals?

“3. Is this fund available to UV body builders who will use brand new power trains for the new models of the jeepney replacement?

“4. Will there be an incentive like an income tax holiday that will cushion the effects of loan repayment?

“5. Does this program consider the effects of collecting payments from drivers and operators to modernize their jeepneys whereas the problem of the Jeepneys is more of an attitude problem rather than just a traffic problem?

“6. Do they know that we can build a brand new jeepney replacement that can carry a total of 20 passengers, reduce road space usage, maximize the use of local components, and provide labor to the masses all at a price lower than P1 million?

Building our own model

“After working for a jeepney replacement project for 24 years, I have come to a conclusion that there is a large market to replace the jeepneys and it would be better to build our model/s using our own design and not of the Willy’s Overland where our jeepneys originated. 

“With the help of cheap and reliable power trains, we Filipinos can produce bodies on a single standard platform which will have a useful life of, say, five years and the after sales service and standard parts shall be made available all over the country. This gives the body builders and parts manufacturers the chance to manufacture our own model and the parts needed for maintenance.

“On the matter of the drivers and operators, the most ideal way to correct their attitude is by way of consolidating their operations into consortiums, treat the drivers as employees, operators as corporate executives, and end the boundary fare system. 

“My last question is: Will this lending program help the jeepney operators and drivers when in fact they consider themselves contented with the present system?”

Response, please

Will someone from the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation give us some answers?

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