Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Media Corruption

Excerpted from "News for Sale: The Corruption &

Commercialization of the Philippine Media" with the author's permission

By CHAY FLORENTINO-HOFILE√ĎA Director of the Journalism Graduate Program of Ateneo de Manila University

Payoffs to journalists have become so much a part of the journalistic culture that they have engendered a language all their own. These are some of the terms used in the journalistic community to refer to various forms of corruption the media.


For attack-collect-defend-collect. A kind of journalism where the reporter attacks a person in order to collect money from that person's rival or enemy. The same journalist then defends the person originally attacked, also for a fee.

ATM journalism

Refers to reporters who receive discreet and regular pay-offs through their automated teller machine (ATM) accounts. News sources simply deposit cash into these accounts instead of issuing checks or handing the money over to the journalists in envelopes. Often, the accounts are in the names of relatives, rather than of the reporters themselves. ATM journalism became popular in the 1990s, taking over from the more simple "envelopmental journalism" that took place in the 1970s and '80s.


As in "fix," the act of bribing reporters either with money or other gifts like late-night entertainment.
Bicycle Gang

Refers to the contacts of politicians in television news desks who ensure that video

footage of candidates barnstorming in the provinces is circulated to the different TV networks by a messenger riding a bike.

Blood Money
A pay-off to ensure that a story or critical article is killed or else slanted in the briber's favor before publication. This is different from "smiling money".


From the Tagalog word that means a bump, usually on the head. A reporter gets a "bukol" or is considered "nabukulan" if he or she fails to get a share of the largesse being distributed by politicians and other news sources whom they cover.


Refers to the practice of media handlers pocketing for themselves a part of the money intended for distribution to reporters. For example, if a party's media bureau sets aside a P2,000 allowance for each of the reporters covering an event, the media staff would distribute only P1,000 to P1,500 and keep the rest. The reporters in this case consider themselves "nadidal."

Envelopmental journalism
A take on "developmental journalism," which became popular in the 1970s.

Journalism is deemed "envelopmental" if it involves an envelope of cash paid to journalists to sway their reporting.

Hao siao

A derogatory term used to refer to pseudo-journalists, those not employed by a

reputable news organization but pass themselves off as journalists in order to cash in on payoffs and bribes made by news sources, particularly during elections.


Cash given as bribe or protection money to the police, a part of which goes to journalists covering the police department. Some reporters have begun using the term to refer to the regular payments that they get from law enforcers.

Main Event

Refers to the act of distributing cash to journalists. A press conference or news coverage is not deemed over until the cash is dispensed -- this is considered the "main event."


Like planets revolving around the sun, reporters also make the rounds of offices, particularly the police stations, to get their weekly payola. The term may also refer to any effort to visit offices for the purpose of soliciting money from news sources.


The position or department within the media bureau of a government agency or company that is in charge of ensuring that press releases are sent to news offices and published or aired when they should be. While there aer PR professionals who do the job, some journalists are hired to ensure "placement' as well. Some journalists also moonlight as writers for candidates, ensuring placement by making appeals to their friends in newspapers and broadcast agencies.

Point Man

A reporter or editor working in a news organization but who is also paid by a candidate or political party to ensure that press releases are published or aired and also to warn the candidate of negative stories emanating from rival camps.

Journalists who are either jobless or on leave from their news organizations and act as guides to reporters covering a a particular candidate or party. Shepherds take care of the reporters' needs including accommodations, food, plane fare and other transportation expenses, as well as "extras" like nights out.

Smiling Money

Cash that is given to reporters or editors for no particular reason except to create goodwill between a source and the journalists. It can also be used to refer to a payoff given after the publication of a positive story, supposedly as a gesture of the source's appreciation.


A thousand pesos


Cebuano word for "cut", used to refer to a hatchet job


A Cebuano term used to describe unscrupulous people; to journalists in the provinces, these are the counterpart of Manila's hao siao.

(Compiled by Manny Mogato and Vinia M. Datinguinoo)


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