[Newspoint] A blackmailed existence

Where before corruption was routinely presumed official – agents of the government bestowing undue favors in its name in exchange for a bribe – it now afflicts private corporations and institutions and the professions. Anyone prepared to pay under the table for a better deal than the next customer or client has only to find a suitably corruptible insider.

But still, given its place in the scheme of things and in particular its regulatory, prosecutorial, and judicial powers, the government naturally dominates the market for corruption.  

Where it is a player, the stakes are presumably high, and the deal conspiratorial, undertaken in the pursuit of some broad, common, corrupt interest, producing consequences as far-reaching as they are chilling, the wrong person perpetuated in power and authority, say, or sent to jail or kept out of it or even pardoned.

How much is the deal worth? Surely attractive enough to inspire a sense of impunity never seen before: bribe money changing hands and murders being perpetrated in the glare of closed-circuit television; assassinations being carried out in an only slightly discreet fashion, with the targets as secure as sitting ducks in their jail cells and all mechanical and human witnesses put out of commission for the moment.

If these cases seem misclassified as corruption, it’s only because they don’t fit the generally acceptable definition. The public has become stuck in the old, soft notion of corruption as wealth making in office, illegal but bloodless – no murders in its wake. But one only has to look hard enough to see corruption at work in most official wrongdoing.

To the news media in particular, the inescapable question is raised: What part, if any, did they play in the shaping of the less than aggressive public stance against corruption? They could not but have played some part.

Like all other professions and institutions, the news media have not been spared by the epidemic of corruption; in fact, for their case, a phrase has been especially coined: "envelopmental journalism." But that’s not the reason they are a scarce help in its mitigation. For all the power ascribed to them, they are themselves constrained by their own nature and mandate.

The media are an army of generalists spread thin and racing the clock to produce ephemeral products – news and instant opinion. They have neither the means – certainly not the time – nor the special training for the edification and advocacy called for in rallying the public around a cause.

Concededly, as matter of moral duty, they are expected to do what they can for the effort. But aren't we all? – Rappler.com