Getting Away with Murder

The presidential election in 2016 crowned the then controversial candidate, Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines. Now, rounding to one year of his presidency, news of massive brutality is coming to light. In an article by Kate Lamb published in the Guardian, she writes about the many alleged murders ordered by the president himself. President Duterte’s “gangster-like” ways are known to the public because it comes with basis, although without concrete evidence. With most of the alleged murders conducted by the police, there has yet to exist substantial evidence to incriminate him. He has even admitted in an interview in May 2015 that he is the death squad (referring to the Davao Death Squad (DDS)) and in last December that he has personally done the deed. His actions and policies are a response to his promise to curtail the drug problems in the country. Conditions in the Philippines are troubling as more people are admitting having worked for the president. Most recently, Arturo Lacansas, a 56-year old retired officer who initially denied any existence of the DDS, recanted his testimony to the Philippine senate while under oath. Claiming to have found a spiritual awakening under the guidance of the nuns of Davao, he admits to killing over 200 people while acting under the president’s command. In some of those years, he became the head of the DDS believing at the time he was servicing his country. Many of the victims come from the lower-income background as small dealers and their families are killed silently. News on the president’s violent nature is not new, but his approval rate despite it all should be a concern.

Spotlight: A Film to Look

Spotlight tells the story of a broken system where Roman priests were found to sexually abuse orphaned children. Like most films about journalism in Hollywood, Spotlight tells the story of a team of investigative journalists. After getting a whiff of a lead for a story, one discovery leads to another, strengthening a story beyond any of the reporter’s imagination. The publication of the story led to many more discoveries of such instances which eventually led to a movement to stop those incidents from happening. The story sheds light on how investigative journalism occurs. From finding the right sources to treading along the grey areas of journalism. The film goes by really fast as you would try to absorb as many facts as possible. The dialogues were written in a way to be informative and give context to film watchers while doing it naturally. The impressive cast delivers a convincing performance with good dynamic and chemistry. It makes it believable that this cast of people were real team mates working on something huge. The whole process seem to be very realistic. All in all this was a splendid movie that sheds a realistic light to the world of journalism. Sometimes, it just takes creating a little more rattle to create a stir for change.

Breaking the Falsehood

The first time I watched Shattered Glass was perhaps 7 years ago. Watching it again perhaps has brought a lot perspective on how Stephen Glass should have been caught from the beginning. The story was slow moving but eventually picked up as Glass’ lies begin to deteriorate one by one. The movie depicted how the adored Stephen Glass wrote for The New Republic (TNC) and how 27 of the articles were fabricated. The film is fascinating as it shows how it is easier to receive a good story rather than doubt it. Journalism might have been different then than it is now, but it is hard to grasp idea that such events could happen repeatedly. The performance of Hayden Christensen who played Glass was very believable; from his mannerism to his last scene of downfall. The film was a first that I watched on journalism and it felt so surreal the, and even more now.

Examining Bill O’Reilly’s Exit

The case on Bill O’Reilly is coming to a conclusive end. At least in the case of the direction of his career. Just yesterday, it was reported that O’Reilly will be removed from the Fox News Cable amidst sexual harassment allegations. The New York Times published an article today on how much payout will Bill O’Reilly be eligible to get. Throughout the article, the author maintains that O’Reilly allegedly carried out the act of sexual harassment. This might be due to the fact that the evidence that are available are testimonies from alleged victims and settlements which have not implicated the television host.  If said otherwise, the article would have libel elements and put O’Reilly under false light. The sources in this article who talk about his payout are also left anonymous. This might be due to the nature of information which might be confidential, but is still relatively important in shaping the story. It is in my opinion that the story reported is in accordance with the media law. Although the story might incriminate Bill O’Reilly in some ways, the news reported have been true so far; thus becoming a defense against libel.

The Man Pressing the Nuclear Button

The recent bombing in Afghanistan begs the question whether the president has too much power over war instigation matters. The opinion column by Michael Krepon in the New York Times titled “How to Make the Nuclear Button Safer” addresses the unsettling problem, that in the event of war, the president has unrestrained power of launching a nuclear attack.

I definitely share the same concern as the author. For a man to have such power in times of crisis, is just extremely alarming. One can only imagine the psychology of a man having to make the decision of detonating a bomb that could be responsible for mass killings. The author suggests that the president should be obliged to consult before making such a choice.

Experts should be consulted and an extra man to approve the decision would give a better and more rational insight on the matter. Unsparing weapons as such should not even exist in the first place. However, since the play of power takes precedence above all other issues including safety, innocent lives are sure to bear the biggest brunt. In hindsight, if policy remains unchanged, a repeat of World War 2 might not be so inconceivable. After all, the cracks are already showing.

 

 

When Activism in Advertising goes Wrong

Rebecca Nicholson wrote an article summarizing the art of activism in advertising as a response after Pepsi pulled out its ad campaign less than 24 hours after its release. In the ad, Kendall Jenner joins a protest which catches her eye while she was doing a photo shoot. She walks with the people to the front line and hands over a Pepsi to a police officer and suddenly everything seems peaceful and the cause is a success. These sorts of campaigns have been rampantly used that Strawberry Frog, a cultural movement agency coins the term “movement marketing”. Big companies use this method of marketing as it appeals to the people, showing that they care for the same cause as its consumers. When done correctly, it can be a marketing success like the iconic “Pepsi Generation” slogan or the “I’d like to Buy the World a Coke” ad. However, with the rising use of the internet and social media, consumers can now give feedback instantly and that tool can backfire for these types of campaign. The Pepsi ad which was recently taken down had #boycottpepsi trending and created a backlash for the message it was sending or for the lack thereof. Another campaign which was taken down recently was the “white purity” ad by Nivea. Although its intent was innocent, social media users were quick to call the ad racist and promoting white supremacy. Despite it all, I still think that movement marketing will be continually utilized in the future.

Making America Wealthy Again

On March 28 2017, the story that struck me the most on NBC Nightly News was “the War on Coal.” NBC addressed the issue of how Donald Trump is “scraping” parts of the clean air act in order to give way for the coal industry. He is also trying to deregulate the act which makes coal tougher to mine in federal land. This was all done in the name of making “America wealthy again” and delivering on campaign promises. This story carries news values as it follows the value of timeliness. “The War on Coal” is something implemented very recently through the acts passed by Donald Trump. It also holds the value of conflict as there would be opposing interest from coal miners, to coal plant owners and to the environment. There is obviously a trade-off between profit generating and sustaining the environment which in turn impacts many people. This story also carries the value of human interest as it involves job creation that could be at the expense of people’s health. Lastly, when the name Donald Trump is mentioned, the news would somehow inadvertently carry the value of prominence. All these news values make this story newsworthy.

About Alia

My name is Alia and I am currently studying Finance and Economics. I come from Malaysia, the country which is most recently infamous for setting the stage for the death of North Korea’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. Aside from the sensational tragedies that occurs in Malaysia which appears every now and then, I feel that Malaysia is truly a wonderful place. It cannot be denied that I have an inherent bias towards this opinion, but I must say, there has only been one person I know of who has ever said the country was dull, and that was due to the raining season. However, I am not blind to the faults that I see happen, as the country is marred by corruption, race politics and exploitation of resources. Thus, like any other idealistic millennials, I cry for change, but still lack proactivity working towards it. I am aware that this predicament of inactivity is a form of hypocrisy, but who knows, maybe within my undergraduate studies, I might get an impetus to start something substantial.

In the meantime, I have set my sight on exploring the Americas, for who knows when I will get to again once home. It’s a beautiful continent rich with nature, and not seizing the opportunity to explore would be criminal. However, the carbon footprint released every time I board a flight makes me bite my tongue, but that feeling fades as it is usually replaced by joy upon arrival. To have guilt turned around so fast, is almost nauseating and shameful to think of. It makes me sometimes wonder if I would win an election spearheading the cause of capriciousness. In honesty, I get appalled at people if they talk about the environment lightly, or have that it’s-not-my-problem attitude – but at the same time, I cannot justify my actions of travelling, buying cheap eggs made of polystyrene boxes, or not having the diligence to give up meat completely. There are just too many discrepancies in my principles versus my actions, which is really an ugly portrait to paint.  If I were a canvas, I would say that my childhood painted the background and now, I am seeing splotches of my main subject. Time will run its course to fill in all the other missing parts and I hope it would be something poignant.