OPINION: SEA Games reportage and the social media trap
Screenshot from the Binan City government debunking an article claiming that the stadium on the left is its sports venue. The correct photo is on the right (CTTO: Binan City government)

Lets call a spade a spade.

The recent reportage by many mainstream media outfits of the Southeast Asian Games left us with a lot of untruths allegedly meant to smear reputations.

In one case, widely distributed news articles accused the SEA Games organizing committee of holding a press conference in what looked like an old warehouse- accusing them of being ill prepared.

Instead, the truth revealed was that it was not a presscon by the organizing committee, but by a private sports association, which insisted on the venue being near the stadium, rather then the official press venues.

A second case was from the Binan City government disputing an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that used a picture of another stadium being constructed, passing it off as the sports venue in the said city. The Inquirer apologized.

In another case of untrue reporting, the Singapore Olympic Council publicly disputed an article in Hongkong`s South China Morning Post alleging that its Muslim athletes were fed pork, and that chef de mission Juliana Seow had spoken to Philippine media complaining of the matter "were untrue".

In many of these instances, the publications apologized. For some we expect them soon. But too many apologies are already smearing the reputation of some media outfits-something bad for their business, and our democracy.

Frankly its shabby reporting.

That`s because in almost all of these articles, the main source was not a verified report by the journalist, but a social media post- often conflated, highly opinionated and emotional. Worse, the news articles tend to be one sided, unable to show the other side of the story.

Using social media posts as a source is shabby, lazy journalism at its finest. The apologies for such only confirm the fears facts (and our minds) are played with, and that some journalists are bearers of the fake news that they claim to loathe.

Many articles will thus be case studies on how not to do a news article. We hope the editors of these publications come down hard on these erring reporters to correct these tendencies. Only this will regain our trust in them.

Rafael Liwanag is a former journalist based in Quezon City