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The power of the media to disseminate information to mass audiences at any given time was certainly phenomenal. All of us are bare witnesses how potent it was. With this, I’m starting to believe that we are not just mere audiences of the media. Rather, we are devotees seriously taking in everything that it feeds through broadcast and print articles, corrupting our minds in the process.

There is no denying that the media has this overwhelming power to convince us to believe in everything it delivers. Many of the information it provides are like laws that dictate our actions. This power was best exemplified when a mother in Los Angeles reported that her six year old son had taken off in a hot air balloon. Everyone who heard the news was shocked and overly concerned with the boy. Who wouldn’t be? That was a serious case involving the life of an innocent boy. People would of course get worried and somehow show sympathy for the family. The incident was so dramatic that it was even heart breaking.

However, when the boy’s parents admitted to authorities that everything was a hoax, people certainly felt fooled. In an affidavit released by Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, the mother of the boy said that the stunt was intended to make the family more marketable for future media interest, including television reality shows—very clever yet so mean. How could two people deceive everyone just to satisfy their personal interests?

With everything that transpired, no one could have felt more foolish than the media. They did not only fail to verify the truthfulness of the news, they also disseminated fraud information to the public that it supposedly serves. Their reliability was at stake and with what happened, they might have lost what little accountability was left after other hoaxes of this sort. They obviously tainted their supposedly flawless reputation. After all, it was indeed a crime not to check the facts before it reach the audience. On the other hand, the boy’s parents were also to blame for taking advantage of the media. Still, it paved the way for us to know what a fragile kind of media could distort the images of truth and manipulate the way we think.

Definitely, we do not like to stay under the confines of its power. Something should be done. We are humans, after all; not robots designed to follow even the minute details of an intricate instruction. This abuse of power should be halted; or it could go on for a lifetime.

Article III Section IV of the Philippine Constitution clearly gives weight to press freedom. But as end users of information, we should see to it that their responsibilities are never neglected while they exercise this freedom.

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