There are three things I learned this week:
1. Read carefully
2. Write clearly
3. Respect opinions
Over the weekend, I attended a media literacy seminar conducted by AIJC president and UNESCO consultant Ramon Tuazon in AiJC Greenhills. The seminar discussed the use of new media, and how to effectively communicate to readers.
A few days later, with the publishing of Examiner.com on its interview with Manny Pacquiao, the bombardment of the hatred status on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs against him, (read here and here), I realized that even well-known journalists need to go through the media literacy seminar as well.
The Examiner.com writer Granville Ampong wrote an apology letter, explaining his literary style (read here). Ampong said “nowhere in my supposition and integration of my interview with Pacquiao did I mention that Pacquiao recited this Leviticus 20:13 nor did I imply that Pacquiao had quoted such.”
Ampong used Leviticus as a source for Pacquiao’s opinion on same-sex marriage. So who made a mistake? The Examiner.com writer tells the journalists who misconstrued his writing, to READ CAREFULLY: ” being writers for USA Today and LA Weekly respectively, should have a better reading comprehension than I do, rhetorically.”
This drives me to the second point – WRITE CLEARLY.
In today’s digital world, everyone is on a rush. Speed reading is a norm. Do you expect an average internet user to sit down, and understand a literary style? I for one made a grave mistake (thinking of seeing a comma) because of my rush reading when I saw a headline in Inquirer that says:
Fil-Am girl Jessica Sanchez leaves ‘American Idol’ judge J-Lo speechless (read here)
My mind read:
Fil-Am girl Jessica Sanchez leaves, American Idol judge J-Lo speechless
I thought I saw a comma. I thought it was really PR stunt and tweeted it. I had a rush of complaints afterwards. So I went back to the article again and read it carefully. I had to apologize for that.
In comparison to Pacquiao, people like to stop reading on the headlines, others would just skim the write-up. Journalists really should be careful with this. As Ampong learned it the hard way- by inserting his source (Leviticus) after Pacquiao’s quote- explaining:
I have simply reminded in my column how God made it clear in the Old Testament time that such practice of same-sex marriage is detestable and strictly forbidden, in as much as God wants to encourage his people practices that lead to health and happiness and fullness of life. As my style of literary writing suggests in almost all of my columns, the critical thoughts I tied up in the structure of thoughts I wanted to convey pertinent to this issue at hand do not translate Pacquiao’s point of view, however conservative I am in my exposition.
Journalists: leave your poetic, and academic style writing in privacy! The internet world is full of speed readers. Be simple. Be understandable.
Respect other people’s opinion. US President Barrack Obama used to be against same sex marriage and no one hated him then. He changes his mind, some critics see it as political motivation and not policy (read here), but the American public- Liberal or Republican….- still respected it.
But here comes Pacquiao, a man who was asked about his stand, and voiced out his answer against same-sex marriage. Local and foreign netizens suddenly slammed him for his opinion, and called him names. I always thought the US is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Apparently, I realized that to be respected by the public, it is imperative that one has to conform to the dominant opinion, or be silent in fear of being ostracized. And all because of the Leviticus “Death to gays” quote- which Pacquio didn’t even invoke.
Sadly, the journalists will go write his apology, others wouldn’t. Tomorrow will be a different story. But Manny Pacquiao will have to live on the irresponsibility of these writers.