Election uncertainties dominate news themes in print



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A problematic exercise


ELECTION UNCERTAINTIES DOMINATE NEWS THEMES IN PRINT
The CMFR Monitor of Media Coverage of the 2010 Elections

Discourse Analysis: Print



(For the period February 28 -March 13, 2010)

Scope
For the print media coverage of the fourth and fifth week of the 2010 elections, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) monitored the front pages of the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star from February 28 to March 13. In a major indication of how problematic the elections are regarded, the uncertainties surrounding the exercise dominated the major themes of print reporting.
CMFR looked at the news reports on the presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial, and party-list elections. Reports on the elections in general, such as the country’s preparedness to undertake its first nationwide automated polls in May and election rules, were also included in the monitor. As in the first CMFR discourse analysis, reports exclusively about local elections were not.

Number of front-page reports
Many reports discussed several categories of election news. One report, for example, discussed not only issues involving the candidates for President, but also those that had to do with the vice-presidential and senatorial aspirants.

Compared with the first three weeks of the the national campaign, and relative to the total number of news reports, there was a slight increase in the amount of coverage of the elections on the front pages of the three newspapers in the fourth and fifth weeks (173 out of 388 articles/items, or 44.59 percent of the total). In the first three weeks of the national campaign, there were 200 reports/items out of a total of 478 (41.84 percent). News about the elections, especially about the presidential candidates and possible problems in conducting the automated polls in May, continued to dominate the front pages of the three newspapers.

Particularly notable in the coverage was the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s in-depth “Think Issues” series which discussed issues that the candidates—and the public—should be addressing and remembering this coming elections. The series, which appeared on the Inquirer’s front page, flagged some of the country’s biggest problems, among them corruption, poverty, lack of agrarian development, and problems in the agrarian, urban land, ancestral land, and fisheries reform programs of the government.
The inside pages are not covered by the CMFR monitor. But it should be noted that there were reports on the elections and the candidates in the inside pages, including special sections, of the newspapers monitored. A March 1 special section of the Inquirer on the elections included discussions on possible problems such as voter disenfranchisement and infographics on how to vote on election day. The Inquirer’s “Talk of the Town” last March 7 also provided readers with the candidates’ stands on population. In its “Vote 2010” special section, the Star not only provided basic information about the presidential candidates but also their positions on various issues.
There were also numerous reports about the candidates in the lifestyle and entertainment sections, among them Star columnist Ricky Lo’s feature on presidential candidate Joseph Estrada last March 1. There were also numerous reports in the entertainment pages about Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, whose campaign has been dragged into controversies, among them that involving his sister Kris and another actress.

From Feb. 28 to March 13, the Star had the most front page news reports (154), followed by the Inquirer (127) and the Bulletin (107). More than half of the front-page articles/items about the elections in all three papers were on the presidential elections (102 out of 173 or 58.96 percent). Stories about the elections in general, such as the possibility of power outages that may imperil the automated polls and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s midnight appointments, were in second place at 71 reports, or 41.04 percent of 173.

As in the first three weeks of the national campaign, reports about the vice-presidential (51 or 29.48 percent) and senatorial (46 or 26.59 percent) campaigns were few. Coverage of the party-list elections was also scant, at 14 reports (8.09 percent).
Placement
Most election-related reports were published below the fold (104 or 60.12 percent). Thirty-seven (21.39 percent) were above the fold, while 32 (18.50 percent) were banner or lead stories in the the three papers.


Subjects
As in the first three weeks of the national campaign, the Nacionalista Party’s Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. and the Liberal Party’s Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III were the most covered presidential candidates. Villar was a subject in 51 reports, and figured in various issues during the period such as his religious and celebrity endorsements, his supposedly lavish campaign spending, his high survey rankings, and the C-5 road extension project controversy.
Aquino was the subject of 49 reports. His high survey ratings, religious and celebrity endorsements, and reactions to various controversies such as Hacienda Luisita made him the second most covered presidential candidate.
Administration candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro was the third most covered candidate (he was the subject of 35 reports), closely followed by former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada (31 reports).

Other presidential candidates were far less covered: Richard Gordon was the subject of 18 reports; Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal, 12; Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva, 10. John Carlos “ De los Reyes, Nicanor Perlas , and Vetellano Acosta, who was disqualified by the Commission on Elections during the period, were the subjects of nine reports.

Among the three papers, the Inquirer reported the most about the presidential candidates (98 times) followed by the Star (86). The Bulletin was a far third (49 times).


 

Presidential candidates
(Reports may have more than one subject)


Bulletin

Inquirer

Star

Total

1

Villar, Manuel Jr. "Manny" Bamba (NP)

11

24

16

51

2

Aquino, Benigno Simeon III "Noynoy" Cojuangco (LP)

10

20

19

49

3

Teodoro, Gilberto Jr. "Gibo" Cojuangco (Lakas-Kampi)

8

11

16

35


4

Estrada Ejercito, Joseph "Erap" Marcelo (PMP)

9

11

11

31

5

Gordon, Richard "Dick" (B.Bayan-VNP)

3

8

7

18

6

Madrigal, Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" AS (Ind)

2

7

3

12

7

Villanueva, Eduardo "Bro. Eddie" Cruz (BP)

2

5

3

10

8

Acosta, Vetellano "Dodong" Seinez (KBL)

1

4

4

9

8

De los Reyes, John Carlos "JC" Gordon (AKP)

1

4


4

9

8

Perlas, Jesus Nicanor "Nick" Pineda (Ind)

2

4

3

9

 

Total per paper

49

98

86

 

As in the first three weeks of the campaign, coverage of the vice-presidential candidates focused on their support for, or reaction to the controversies, involving their standard bearers.


Among the vice-presidential candidates, it was clear that only Loren Legarda (26 reports) and Manuel “Mar” Roxas (21)—also the frontrunners in various surveys—were being given consistent coverage.



 

Vice-presidential candidates
(Reports may have more than one subject)


Bulletin

Inquirer

Star

Total

1

Legarda, Loren "Loren" Bautista (NPC)


8

8

10

26

2

Roxas, Manuel "Mar" Araneta (LP)

5

7

9

21

3

Binay, Jejomar "Jojo" Cabauatan (PDP-Laban)

2

3

4

9

4

Fernando, Bayani "BF" Flores (B.Bayan-VNP)

 

5

3

8

5

Manzano, Eduardo "Edu" Barrios (Lakas-Kampi)

1

3

2

6

6

Sonza, Jose "Jay Sonza" Yumang (KBL)

 

2

3

5

7

Chipeco, Dominador Jr. "Jun" Fuentecilla (AKP)


 

2

2

4

7

Yasay, Perfecto "Kidlat" Rivas (BP)

 

2

2

4

 

Total per paper

16

32

35

 

Coverage of the senatorial elections during the period monitored, as in the first period, still focused on the most well-known candidates and incumbent senators. Juan Ponce Enrile still led the coverage with 10 reports. He was followed by Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., with six reports each. Others received five reports or less.


Up to this period, coverage of the senatorial elections still focused on the candidates’ reactions to various controversies as well as issues involving their standard bearers (presidential candidates). There was scant focus on the senatorial candidates’ positions on development or policy issues, despite the fact that these issues impact heavily on legislation, and that that there are 61 candidates vying for 12 senatorial slots.

But one report about a relatively unknown senatorial candidate was a feature article in the Inquirer last Feb. 28 on Alex Lacson (“‘12 Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help’ Alex Lacson win Senate seat”).



 

Senatorial candidates
(Reports may have more than one subject)


Bulletin

Inquirer

Star

Total

1

Enrile, Juan Ponce "JPE" (PMP)

3

3

4

10

2

De Venecia, Jose III "Joey" Perez

2

1

3

6

2

Estrada, Jinggoy Ejercito (PMP)

1

3

2

6

2

Marcos, Ferdinand Jr. "Bongbong" Romualdez (NP)

1

1

4

6

3


Drilon, Franklin "Frank" Magtunao (LP)

1

1

3

5

3

Remulla, Gilbert Cesar Catibayan (NP)

 

1

4

5

3

Sotto, Vicente III "Tito" Castelo (NPC)

2

2

1

5

4

Bello, Silvestre III "Bebot" Hernando (Lakas-Kampi)

2

1

1

4

4

Cayetano, Pilar Juliana "Pia" Schramm (NP)

2

 

2

4

4

Lambino, Raul Loyola (Lakas-Kampi)

3

1

 

4

4


Lapid, Manuel "Lito" Mercado (Lakas-Kampi)

2

1

1

4

4

Maza, Liza "Liza Maza ng Gabriela" Largoza (Ind)

1

1

2

4

4

Pimentel, Gwendolyn "Gwen" de la Llana (PDP Laban)

1

1

2

4

5

Biazon, Rozzano Rufino "Ruffy" Bunoan (LP)

1

 

2

3

5

Bong Revilla, Ramon. Jr. "Kap" Bautista (Lakas-Kampi)

2

 

1

3

5

Defensor Santiago, Miriam Palma (PRP)

2

 

1


3

5

Guingona, Teofisto III "TG" de lara (LP)

1

 

2

3

5

Langit, Rey Magat (Lakas-Kampi)

2

1

 

3

5

Ocampo, Saturnino "Satur" Cunanan (Bayan Muna)

 

2

1

3

5

Plaza, Rodolfo "Ompong" Galido (NPC)

1

 

2

3

5

Recto, Ralph Gonzalez (LP)

1

 

2

3

 

Total per paper

31

20

40

 



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