Saturday, November 4, 2017

Writer lectured Pia Ranada of Rappler for giving malicious implication of Thinking Pinoy's words

Rappler is once again tagged for hypocrisy and deliberate “twisting” of words and meanings when it issued an article against Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto after the latter criticized one of the news outlet’s journalists, Pia Ranada.

In a Facebook post by Jonathan A. Watson, who takes up language studies at Ateneo de Davao University, he explained how Ranada’s tweet about Nieto’s criticism was an example of how Rappler intentionally slants meaning of statements to make it favor their biases.

Photo from Jonathan Watson's Facebook account

Ranada’s tweet reads, "Whether or not he meant it literally, it's a threat. Why is a KBP-recognized radio station allowing its hosts to threaten journalists?"

Watson explained that the mere fact Ranada recognized that Nieto’s statement may or may not have been literal means that the Rappler journalist knew the threat is not as real as she makes it to be.

When Nieto and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque used the phrase “hollow blocks” to refer to criticism against the Duterte administration, Watson explains that it is an intertextual reference or text referring to another text. In this case, Nieto and Roque’s speech can be referred to Jesus Christ’s words , “throwing stones”, in the Bible.

When critics throw stones, which means arguments against President Rodrigo Duterte, Roque’s way of saying that the administration will throw back “hollow blocks” means that they would retort with better arguments. 

Watson expounded that in Nieto’s point of view, Ranada was befitting to be thrown hollow blocks at, but not literally the material, but rather, arguments or criticisms. The netizen lamented how Ranada twisted the statement in a way that she can present herself as a victim and make it seem as though Nieto seeks to incite violence.

Read the full post of Mr. Watson below:


You just explicitly showed the online community today how media personalities twist words. You yourself, Pia, said (via Twitter):

"Whether or not he meant it literally, it's a threat. Why is a KBP-recognized radio station allowing its hosts to threaten journalists?"

Guuuurrrlllll, if you know it isn't meant literally, and is a figure of speech, then you know it isn't a real threat. As a current language student (plus a former communication student), let me give you a quick language/communication-related lesson with its application in this situation:

Words are signs (a unit of meaning) that signify meaning through a signifier (sound-image). All words and phrases have denotative meanings, as in, literal meanings. However, they may also have connotative or figurative meaning as well. This means that what is signified may be different although its signifier (or string of signifiers) look the same. Though this is a technical understanding of language based on Structuralist theory, this is commonly understood by anyone. You yourself, Pia, show you understand this by saying "meant it literally".

Photo from GMA Network

What Nieto said was in reference to Roque's figurative statement regarding criticism. Rappler's article concerning this issue at hand, even notes this by saying:

"The mention of hollow blocks was in reference to Roque's earlier interview with another blogger and government official, Mocha Uson, when the newly-appointed spokesperson said he would throw adobe hollow blocks at the critics of the administration."

Nieto's statement about hollow blocks is called an intertextual reference. This means that his broadcast speech- a text (set of signs that send a message)- contains reference to another text. The text he is referring to is Roque's. Roque's own speech is an intertextual reference to the speech of Christ in the Bible.

Originally, Christ's words about "throwing stones" denoted the technique of punishment that time- under Mosaic Law- for certain sins. His entire message was to say one cannot deliver punishment if they themselves have things about themselves to be punished over. Afterward, the statement and concept grew a connotative meaning concerning judgmental attitudes and criticism. Its application was also secularized to the point it can be applied to anything. This all follows a concept called "The Orders of Signification", explained by French theorist Roland Barthes, concerning the denotative and connotative attachments to signs.

Roque used this connotative meaning to figuratively refer to criticism against Duterte. To show how critical he'll be, back towards the critics, he said he'd throw hollow blocks instead of stones. This was to emphasize what he would see as superiority of truth in his criticism towards the weak points made in the criticism coming from the critics.

Nieto intertextually referenced this by asking for it to happen. When asked who it should be directed to, Nieto pointed out Pia. Why? This goes back to the text Nieto was referencing. For Nieto, Pia fits the qualification of one whom Roque should figuratively throw a hollow block towards. Within this context, it is understood that PIa is the one throwing the stones.

Now, if Nieto is wanting to have hollow blocks thrown here, should we also conclude that he is making an allegation that Pia is behaving violently too by throwing stones? No.

Hence, here is your problem Pia: 
You took a figurative statement, knowing that it is possibly figurative, and decided to go ahead and self-victimize yourself (without ruling out it if was indeed figurative or literal) by making a false allegation that Nieto incited violence against you.

And your fault too Rappler:
Using journalism in a selfish manner to defend one of your own, you created an article titled "DWIZ host incites violence against Rappler journalist". Not only was this a self-serving piece, but you made a statement of defamation by declaring a figurative statement as a literal violent one.

To be fair, I could say that it is possible (Note: POSSIBLE, not FACTUAL) that Nieto violated KBP rules by calling Pia out as one of the stone throwers. But this isn't to say that he did, in fact, threaten Pia with the use of figurative language.
As for you, Rappler, I would say that you have violated media ethics by twisting meaning to make a defamatory remark against Nieto. Your reports and features themselves would never even fit under KBP standard, as not only do KBP adhere to general media ethics, but ethics that kind of border alongside conservative religious values (which, in fairness, can be argued as problematic if KBP claims to represent the secular that some media outlets may categorize themselves under).

Hence, if you cannot even follow the KBP standard, who are you to throw stones at those you deceitfully claim to fail to adhere to KBP policy? Can you spell hypocrisy?

This is my hollow block to you."

Source: Facebook / Jonathan Watson
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