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Why CNN is Getting Praise and Flak for its Philippine Storm Coverage

CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo from CNN website

CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Tacloban, Philippines. Photo from CNN website

CNN was among the first global media teams which arrived in the Philippines to cover the destruction left behind by super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Many Filipinos recognized the extensive reporting made by CNN during and after the storm hit the central part of the country.

Many also appreciated the arrival of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper who reported live from Tacloban City, the ground zero of the disaster.

Anderson cited the complaints of survivors about the slow delivery of relief and other forms of assistance from the government. Filipino journalist Gel Santos Relos believes Anderson was objective in his reporting:

I personally think Anderson and the reporters and experts have been objective in the way they have covered the situation in Leyte — pointing out the intensity and magnitude of Yolanda, the effect of storm Zoraida on relief operations, the challenges brought about by geography, etc.

CNN is not there to “demolish” the image of the Philippines. They are in fact helping our kababayans by reporting things as they see them, so the international community can respond accordingly.

But her colleague and media personality Korina Sanchez disagreed. She reportedly criticized Anderson in her radio show:

Itong si Anderson Cooper, sabi wala daw government presence sa Tacloban. Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya.

This Anderson Cooper, he said there is no government presence in Tacloban. It seems he doesn’t know what he is saying.

Many reacted strongly against Korina and accused her of being comfortable in a Manila office in contrast to the ground reporting of Anderson. The following day, Korina travelled to Ormoc City (another badly hit town of Leyte province) where she reported about the situation of typhoon victims.

Apparently, Anderson heard about the criticism of Korina. He defended the accuracy of his report and invited Korina to go to Tacloban:

Ms Sanchez is welcome to go there and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the Interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight

Anderson was correct when he pointed out that Korina is the wife of Mar Roxas, the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and head of the ruling Liberal Party. Netizen reactions were mostly in favor of Anderson.

Meanwhile, Yasmin Arquiza cautions the public not to immediately accept reports made by ‘parachute journalists’:

The problem in reporting a disaster of this magnitude, stretching across a string of islands hundreds of kilometers apart from east to west, is that the stories often resemble the tale of the six blind men and the elephant – depending on who's touching which part of the animal, you'll get a different description each time. Most of the images have been distressing, and it's often hard to tell if the reports from parachute journalists – we haven't seen this many since the days of coup d'etats in these parts – are mostly anecdotal or very much reflective of the reality in the field, given the tendency of foreign correspondents to generalize situations at times.

Criticism should continue against the government’s slow relief operations, writes Professor Gerry Lanuza:

Without CNN Anderson Cooper's criticism of relief operation, Korina Sanchez would have not gone to Tacloban; without the victims complaining themselves, the government would have continued its failed response, without the vigilance and criticism against government bureaucracy the relief good would have been hijacked and used for political purposes.

Law professor Florin Hilbay tweets this reminder to reporters

Ayee Macaraig writes about the mixed reactions in the Philippines about the CNN coverage of the disaster:

CNN’s coverage of the typhoon has divided Filipinos on social media, with some praising the network for its extensive coverage and for calling out the Philippine government over the slow relief efforts. Others though criticized CNN for “parachute journalism” and for resorting to blaming the government instead of understanding the logistical problems involved.

Interestingly, there was a popular meme about the praise made by CNN about the ‘resiliency’ of Filipinos in the wake of the tragedy caused by Haiyan. But the ‘praise’ was actually a comment in a CNN article about the disaster.

A 'CNN comment' which went viral in the Philippines. Image from Filipino FreeThinkers website

A ‘CNN comment’ which went viral in the Philippines. Image from Filipino FreeThinkers website

Seekers Portal explains why many Filipinos believed in the ‘CNN photo’:

I believe that the reason why this “edited CNN photo” went viral was because, we Filipinos want to somehow alleviate the sufferings of our typhoon-and-earthquake-stricken countrymen, by sharing some encouragement.

But CNN did praise the Filipinos when Anderson left this message in his report yesterday:

They’re bowed perhaps, tired and traumatized, but they are not broken. Mabuhay Philippines, maraming salamat (thank you very much) for all you’ve shown us. Maraming salamat for showing us all how to live

As expected, Filipinos appreciated this remark

Meanwhile, some are not happy over the VIP treatment accorded by the government to the CNN news team. Some local media are accusing the office of the president of ‘babysitting’ CNN reporters.

  • carcaranon

    Nope, I did not like Anderson Cooper’s catastrophizing what already was a major catastrophe. It was highly sensationalized and editorialized. That CNN and Anderson Cooper saw the need to respond to criticisms, not necessarily from the Philippine Government nor to Korina Sanchez (who are they anyway), but from other more lucid critics who cautioned journalists from sensationalizing the news – count in TIME and the United Nations, meant that the kind of reporting they did bordered on the hysterical. Not much difference from FOX News which is the kind of news middle America prefers. And for Filipinos in the country who think Anderson Cooper gave better coverage of the news on Yolanda, you only have to look at local news agencies more valiant reporting like GMA and ABS-CBN.

  • carcaranon

    Nope, I did not like Anderson Cooper’s catastrophizing what already was a major catastrophe. It was highly sensationalized and editorialized. That CNN and Anderson Cooper saw the need to respond to criticisms, not necessarily from the Philippine Government nor to Korina Sanchez (who are they anyway), but from other more lucid critics who cautioned journalists from sensationalizing the news – count in TIME and the United Nations, meant that the kind of reporting they did bordered on the hysterical. Not much difference from FOX News which is the kind of news middle America prefers. And for Filipinos in the country who think Anderson Cooper gave better coverage of the news on Yolanda, you only have to look at local news agencies more valiant reporting like GMA and ABS-CBN.

  • Guest

    Alam ninyo, hindi natin masisisi ang gobyerno o mga pulitiko kung may makikita kayong mga relief

    goods na may mga pangalan o mga litrato nila! Bakit ba? Dati na kasi nila iyang pakana! kapag

    may sakunang nangyari, hayan, biglang eepal ang mga pulitikong iyan! Ang dapat sisihin ninyo,

    iyong mga punyetang mga ARTISTANG PINOY na iyan, dati nang ine-expose ang kanilang mga walang

    kuwentang mga mukha para lang mang-akit ng mga tae, este, tao upang tumulong o makibahagi, pero

    ang tunay nilang mga pagkatao, hindi naman talagang tumutulong, puro lang exposure, kunwari pang

    magdi-DISGUISE, mag-a-awa-awaan o gagamitin pa ang Relihiyon o ang Pangalan ng mga Kataas-

    taasan(Diyos ko, patawarin Ninyo silang lahat!) Pero sa bandang huli, puro pagkukunwari lang ang

    lahat! Mga PLASTIK! May balak pang daigin o gayahin ang mga pag-uugali ng mga Kanong artista,

    para mag-mukhang Hollywood life ang mga mala-impyerno nilang mga buhay!

    You know guys, we can not blame the government or politicians if you find relief goods with the

    names or photos of them! Why? It’s a part of their previous schemes! When a disaster occurs, the

    politicians suddenly show-off! Whos to blame? Fucking Filipino Celebrities who did these

    previously just to expose their faces to woo the shit, err, people, to help or participate, but

    their real personality, they’re not necessarily really helping, but just concentrate mostly on

    their exposure, at first you’ll se them DISGUISE, show pity faces or use more Religion or the

    name of the Most High (God, forgive them all!) But in the end, just all pure hypocrisy! Fake!

    Pretentious! They even intend of conquering or even emulating Hollywood stars just to live the

    life of Evilness!

  • Mercedes Andrada-wolf

    CNN has reported what they have seen in the Philippines.its very good what they have done.CORINA SANCHEZ pls SHUT YOUR MOUTH. you are the one who does not know whats coming out in your mouth.Dont defend your husband MANUEL ROXAS.im from roxas city and i have the right to say this because i belonged to those people who installed your husband in power.i was one of the young people who demonstrated in the people power revolution.i had risked my young life in that time because i wanted a free country in the time of marcos.i thought my work is finished and i migrated to Germany but now i realized that my work will be continued.The Roxas Clan has done nothing to Roxas City and the whole Capiz.Roxas City was better before the Roxas Clan enters Capiz politics.I challenge you Corina Sachez, i am more intelligent than you and i know life more than you so pls SHUT UP.

  • Strayjack

    For once CNN actually reported what was happening on the ground, at that moment, the reaction of those that made it past the horrific event. If KC wanted to dispute the accounts as was happening, she should have planted herself on site to debunk. Isn’t that what journalists do, to report the facts as it happens? Has anyone wondered why so many reacted to KS disagreement with AC? I sure didn’t wonder. Her affiliation with the government is very close and personal. It is no surprise when she tried to make one loose credibility by spewing arguments in defense of the government.

    I can say it with great confidence that the people will see things in a different perspective. Hopefully they realize that they only have themselves to depend on. When it comes to their survival, for their children’s future, they need to change. Generation of corruption, and apathy towards the common Filipinos has reduced many to accept this type of values as the norm. I’ve seen it first hand, and it is a sad thing.

  • Whors

    Someone in the CNN newsroom probably got promoted for his foresight. None of the news agencies thought it was going to be big news. Not even the local ones.

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