14 February 2007

Totally missing the big picture

LAST NIGHT, I saw Kate Delovieres' report on the State of the City address in TV Patrol Bicol. I thought everything went well, until the last part where she raised to concern over (1) its timing, with the May elections fast approaching, and (2) its new venue -- Plaza Quezon -- where previous reports were held at the Sangguniang Panlungsod session hall.

I think mainstream media, exemplified by that report, missed the point here. One, the implied criticism that it is driven by the political season smacks of naiveté. Of course, events like the State of the Nation Address, which inspired the annual State of the City reports by the mayor,
is political. It also ignores the fact that it has become an annual ritual that started in 2002, or even earlier. In fact, previous reports can be accessed from the city website.

The second issue, on the other hand, totally misses the big picture. That it was delivered in the city plaza, and followed afterward by an open forum (which unfortunately did not live up to expectations) is an attempt to exercise direct democracy -- where citizens can hold their leaders to account. It sought to depart from usual practice of reporting to the city council, which is a feature of the representative democracy we currently have. And where the mainstream media can continue setting the agenda as a powerful gatekeeper that mediates between the governors and the governed.

This effort should not only be continued but enhanced. Like making available copies of the state of the city address -- in print and digital format -- well before it is delivered; this way, participants will have the chance to study the report and make more meaningful comments, criciticisms or suggestions. A shorter report -- focusing on the truly major issues -- will take up fewer minutes and allow more time for the open forum. There are others, I'm sure, which will make a "good practice" better.