On fairness, balance and the worldwide Interwebs

Noemi Dado wrote about a video that recently made the rounds that claims facts about the Cojuangco-Aquino family. It’s a treasure trove of biting accusations, dubious data and water-cooler fodder. You can watch it here.

The merit of the video is another matter. All I’ll say about it here is that it looks like propaganda to me, so I won’t accept what it says at face value.

I hoped that Ms Dado would have, too, especially since she wrote the post for BlogWatch, a reputable online “citizen media” site that, in theory, should be fair and balanced. In fact, she said on Twitter that she wrote the post in the interest of fairness and balance.

However, when you look at her post, you can tell where she’s leaning towards. She begins with “Thou shalt not be ignorant,” then proceeds to reproduce, in full, the description of the video, which explains the motivation behind it and where it sources its facts. After posting the entirety of the description, she inserts excerpts of comments about it by historian Xiao Chua. Not the entirety of Chua’s Facebook note, just the first few paragraphs. In fact, the body of Chua’s reaction, which Dado excluded from the post, largely disproves the arguments of the video, but she makes no mention of it. This is followed by a long list of tweeted reactions to the video, the overwhelming majority of which were approving of it.

You’ll have to read her post yourself, but I think you’ll find that she herself approves of the video. The tweets she posted about the issue reveal her stand, too.

Fielding criticism from bloggers, she said she posted about the video in the name of fairness and balance. Her aim, she said, was to present all sides. But the post itself betrays a lack of will on her part to keep the discussion fair. Furthermore, her tweets, more than anything else, challenged the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their supporters to disprove the video.

Of course, we all have our own personal biases, human as we are. But the lack of balance in Dado’s post, which (I will repeat) she wrote in the name of fairness and balance, is a disservice to her readers and to the discourse on the matter. She says she presented both sides, but instead she presented one of them, then inserted excerpts from the other. Inserting Chua’s comments was a nice gesture, I guess, but I think it was a cop-out, a token act. It didn’t balance her discussion of the issue.

I pointed this out to Dado on Twitter (in much fewer words, obviously), and she said, “Well if you think I was not balanced, maybe you can make a blog post about it and share it here instead of splitting hairs.” She suggested I curate my own Twitter reactions, and added, “Sorry na lang if that is all I found. Verify it yourself.” I found her response disappointing, especially since I only pointed these out to her because she had written the post in question for want of fairness.

In short, she said she was fair, and I (and many others) begged to differ. The discussion kind of disintegrated from there.

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