Author Archives | Romano Cortes Jorge

Ending Fake News From Within

Ending Fake News From Within

If journalists and publishers want to end fake news, they must start with themselves. For far too long certain conventions have been perpetuated that, under scrutiny, have no place in any legitimate journalistic publication.

Stop publishing horoscopes, feng shui tips, and other beliefs definitively disproven by science such as traditional Chinese medicine, crystal healing, cleansing diets, homeopathy, etc. If you must feature pseudoscience, then be critical and get the findings of legitimate science authorities.
Stop making stupid people famous. Banish high society columns where people are featured simply because they were born rich or pretty. Being born rich or pretty is not an accomplishment. If you want to feature someone well bred then feature a pure breed pig, horse, or dog instead. If they are philanthropists then feature their advocacy. If they are tycoons then feature their business success. If they are well dressed then feature the designers. If they travel then feature the destinations. If they are artists then feature their art. Obsessive hoarding, be it any material possession or wealth, beyond any practical need, is a symptom of a sick mind. High society columns are most often amoral, highlighting plunderers and tax evaders, oppressors of laborers and peasants, as if they were worthy to look up to.
Stop showbiz gossip. Judge actors and musicians for their artistry. If they are not true artists then don’t feature them at all. Stop exploiting the private lives of stars and stop being exploited by celebrities who want media attention.
Stop featuring blind item columns and anonymous writers. Everyone must practice accountability and transparency. Journalism is only for the brave and those that can’t name names better shut up.

Stop prostituting the lifestyle section. No upstanding publisher would demand the front page news section or the business section to compromise their journalistic integrity and sell out to make money for the publication. So why demand that of the lifestyle section? The newsmen who most often run publications often look down on the lifestyle section as insubstantial and yet they are the ones who often expect the lifestyle section to sell out and make money for the publication. Cultural reportage is extremely relevant and important. Corruption, poverty, rape, bigotry, and vanity are all perpetuated by flawed culture. Environmentalism, gender equality, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, accountability, honesty, ambition, and creativity are all values that can and should be promoted by arts and culture.

Stop judging by popularity. You don’t publish something because people want to read it and watch it; you publish something because people need to read it and watch it. Stop judging articles by the number of likes, shares, or reads. These are the wrong metrics. If popularity was the basis then all publications would be sensationalist tabloids with sexy pictures, clickbait headlines, and hoax news.

Stop giving equal legitimacy to opposing points of view when this misrepresents reality. For example, It’s not right giving equal voice to a lone dissenter denying man-made climate change when the vast majority of the scientific establishment confirms the existence of man-made climate change.

Be plainspoken. Don’t say he “misspoke” if it was a deliberate and often-repeated lie. Call a spade a spade.

Get real writers and journalists. Don’t get an editor-in-chief because he or she represents the aspirational ideal of your readership or audience—glamorous, accomplished, etc. Don’t get columnists just because they are famous. If they can’t write well or have nothing worthy to say then they have no business in your publication.

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A Filipino for Palestine

gazaAs a Filipino, the struggle of Palestine for independence strongly resonates with me. Being used as a pawn by regional powers; the attempts to marginalize,ignore, and demonize them; and even their own tragically bad decisions–these all mirror the Philippine experience. After visiting both Palestine and Israel some years back and learning of the region’s tortured history, here is what Have to say:

Let’s be frank. Before, when Hamas was not in power, Israel refused to give the PLO under the late Nobel Peace laureate Yasser Arafat a fair deal. They wouldn’t even return land annexed after the Arab Israeli Wars, allow Palestinian refugees to return, or share Jerusalem as a capital, as they did before occupation.

Let’s be frank. If the US or any other country was invaded, occupied and blockaded for half a century, every peaceful and democratic means for liberty was defeated, and the use of conventional armies and weapons was denied,wouldn’t they also be so desperate as to turn to the most brutal of organizations and use the most extreme and desperate measures to fight for their freedom?

Let’s be frank. How can Palestine get a fair deal peacefully when one of the international arbiters, the United States, supplies weapons to Israel and sides with it unconditionally?

Let’s be frank. Terrorism is terrorism, whether you use US-supplied weapons or homemade rockets, whether you say, “oops, sorry, collateral damage” or not.

Let’s be frank. Before this war, there was no reason that Israel would give Palestine back its liberty peacefully on its own accord. They had no incentive to do so.

Let’s be frank. Without Hamas and other threats, Israel would have run out of reasons for getting the unconditional military, economic, and diplomatic support of the United States. Without Hamas, Israel runs out of excuses to continue land grabbing and blockade of Palestine. Without the constant threat of war, Israel loses its special status.

Let’s be frank. Using Hamas as an excuse for more land grabbing, apartheid,and occupation is like using the Ku Klux Klan as an excuse to bomb all of America. I don’t like Hamas. But that doesn’t excuse turning a blind eye to Palestinian suffering.

Let’s be frank. Not even Germany, despite perpetrating the Holocaust during the Second World War that murdered six million Jews, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. Not even the United States, despite being founded on the extermination and expulsion of Native Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans, had its right to exist as a nation revoked or questioned. No one has a right to question or deny Palestine’s right to nationhood, regardless of their tragically bad choices, such as choosing Hamas.

Let’s be frank. Creating a state whose identity is based on one religion or race and whose borders are defined by mythology is undemocratic in a multi ethnic world. If only the British colonizers, instead expelling indigenous Arabs to create a Jewish state after the Holocaust of the Second World War,created a nation that was inclusive of all religions and races, we wouldn’t have this war. A modern, peaceful, and democratic nation state defines itself with a shared culture and universal values that unite citizens regardless of race, religion, ideology, or gender.

Let’s be frank. The reason Christians outside the Middle East support Israelis because they want to ensure the fulfillment of their own end-time prophecy,their own mythology. Many of these supporters have yet to actually spend time in both Israel and Palestine. I’ve been there on the ground, Christians and Muslims are allies there. Every successful Palestinian business is blown up or bulldozed by Israelis, saying the building could be used by snipers. The best land is annexed for Jewish settlers who have never lived in Middle East before as long time Palestinian residents look on, still clutching their land titles.

Let’s be frank. The United States’ unconditional support for Israel is more a reflection of its own voter demographic–Jewish American and ChristianEvangelical voters and campaign donors are more numerous and far wealthier thanArab Americans. Morality has little to do with it. After all, US supports many other allies with alarming disregard for human rights (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,etc.) even as it demonizes it rivals for the same reasons (Iran, Syria, etc.)It only intervenes when profits are to be made or interests are threatened.

Let’s be frank. History and holy books cannot be used to justify this occupation and land grabbing. History books reveal that, besides the Hebrews,the Assyrians (Syria), Babylonians (Iraq), Romans (Italy), Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates (Saudi Arabia), Mamluks (Egypt), Ottomans (Turkey) and the British Empire (United Kingdom) all claimed and ruled present day Israel and Palestine. The holy books of all three Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have been used to justify the worst atrocities: the genocide, rape, and enslavement of Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, etc.; the bloody Jihads; and the murderous Crusades. Studies show that indigenous Semites, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are genetically identical. After all, many of today’s Palestinian Muslims and Christians were once Jews before converting to the religion of past conquerors of the region. Ironically, it was the Jews who refused to convert and were displaced by the Diaspora throughout Europe and America who bear little resemblance to native Semites, culturally or otherwise,after generations of conversions, intermarriages, and assimilation.

Let’s be frank. The fact is that the Palestinians exist–despite every attempt to marginalize, ignore, demonize, and eradicate them–and they have aright to exist, as all people do. Like Israelis do.

Let me be clear: I am for a peaceful and democratic Palestine and Israel. I do not condone atrocities on either side. But these atrocities cannot justify injustices.

Supporters of Israel also have to consider how the occupation is corrupting Israel. It has made Israel occupiers, land grabbers, and human rights violators. Unconditional support isn’t friendship; it’s a license to bully. Areal friend tells someone when they are doing wrong. And yes, I consider myself a friend of both Palestine and Israel.


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