Rappler is taking aim at other media organizations after causing ABS-CBN to lose a major blocktime partner for its struggling cable news channel, ANC.
Despite the abundance of issues that need coverage amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the self-proclaimed fact checker assigned a reporter, Camille Elemia, to report on the Philippine media landscape.
“With all the chaos under Duterte, Rappler has put emphasis on covering the media landscape by assigning @CamilleElemia as media and disinformation reporter after she came back from studying in the US. Other countries have long had media reporters, but very rare in PH,” Rappler reporter Ralf Rivas tweeted on April 15.
Elemia’s study in the United States was funded by the American government through the Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship, a Fulbright exchange program.
Despite lingering questions on Rappler’s funding and ownership, Rivas believes the company is well positioned to report on other media entities. He even advised other organizations to follow suit and devote resources to covering their competitors.
Rappler and its founder, Maria Ressa, are facing tax evasion charges, which they are framing as an attack on press freedom. A number of cyberlibel charges have also been filed against the company.
“It’s a touchy issue, covering fellow journos and competitors. Can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be to cover ‘frenemies in the industry. Camille’s work is important to keep the industry in check, I think other outlets should have journos dedicated to cover media too,” Rivas said.
Flattered by Rivas’ tweet, Elemia replied: “Sending milktea your way [winking face with tongue emoji] [winking face with tongue emoji] [winking face with tongue emoji].” Her tweet included Chinese characters, which translates to: “Thank you my friend.”
Elemia’s article on ANC’s airing of Chinese News TV (CNTV) helped fan the backlash against ABS-CBN on social media. The story linked the West Philippine Sea dispute to the launch of the newscast, which was produced by the Filipino-Chinese company Horizon of the Sun Communications Inc.
ABS-CBN’s decision to air the newscast, however, was purely motivated by business. The blocktime deal was necessary to keep ANC afloat since new revenue streams dwindled following the network’s shutdown last year.
Rivas gloated on Twitter after ANC axed the newscast, tweeting: “The power of writing stories. And the calmness to take negative reax and personal attacks from industry colleagues. Sagot ko dinner ni @CamilleElemia today haha.”
Jairo Bolledo, another Rappler reporter, replied: “Sagot ulit ni @lianbuan milk tea haha.”
Rivas has since deleted the tweet, claiming he was merely “looking out for a friend getting hate for writing a story.”
In a belated bid to earn sympathy after celebrating the blow to ANC, he tweeted: “Kapamilya, I will never wish anything bad to happen. Ang dami kong kaibigan sa dos.”