Healthy engagement between private, gov’t communicators urged

DAVAO CITY Given that the delivery of message is not a singular event, public information officers have been urged to engage stakeholders, particularly the media, to effectively cascade "real" and "truthful" information that would eventually be consumed by the masses.

With the prevalence of false information circulating in social media, PhilIppine Star columnist Luisito Beltran said Tuesday it is high time government communicators equip themselves that would strengthen their role as bringers of truth.

"It's about time we grow up as a nation because you are the most powerful people in your area and you have been gifted to be communicators, so communicate the truth," he told more than 1,600 information officers attending the first National Information Convention here.

In previous administrations, Beltran said, the usual complaint is that the media did not report government programs and the benefits they would bring or have brought to the Filipino people.

He said a major player in this issue is the public information officer whose duty is to inform the press, provide communication materials, and supply them with complete data.

"It is their job to bring knowledge and information so that the media can report," he said in his presentation.

Often, the words the press hear from public offices are lack of authority to divulge even the most general information. For Beltran, such action does not do anyone any good.

Similar sentiments were aired by Elena Pernia, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. To avoid miscommunication that risks printed information that are misconstrued or often false, she said engagement is the key.

"What we advise sources is to have continuing conversation with reporters and editors," she said in the same event.

"The delivery of message is not a singular event. It is a continuing process. If the media gets it wrong, it's a great opportunity to continue the conversation," she added.

Beltran also reminded public officials and employees to stand tall when relaying facts.

"The President of the Republic is straight forward, (he) speaks the truth, walang apologies 'ayun na yun (no apologies, that's that)," he said, advising public communicators to "stop apologizing for the President and stop justifying the program".

Source: Philippine News Agency