A Penn State fraternity pledge died after stumbling and falling several times with toxic levels of alcohol in his body and suffered for hours with severe injuries while his friends failed to summon help, authorities said Friday in announcing criminal charges against the fraternity and 18 of its members.
A grand jury investigation, aided by security camera footage from the Beta Theta Pi chapter house, found that fraternity members resisted getting help for 19-year-old Timothy Piazza before his death in February. The grand jury said their actions in some cases may have worsened his injuries.
Eight of the fraternity brothers and the chapter itself were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Other charges include aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing.
The grand jury said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the Feb. 2 ceremony at which Piazza, a sophomore engineering student, and 13 others accepted pledge bids. The pledges were pressured to run a gantlet of drinking stations that required them to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.
The cameras recorded Piazza drinking vodka and beer at around 9:20 p.m. and an hour later needing help to walk, staggering and hunched over, from an area near the basement stairs to a couch. He’s later shown trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then “severely staggering drunkenly toward the basement steps” at about 10:45 p.m., the grand jury report said.
He was subsequently found at the bottom of the steps after apparently falling face-first. Four brothers carried his limp body back upstairs, where some poured liquid on him and one slapped him in the face, the jury said. Fraternity members put a backpack containing textbooks on him so Piazza, lying on his back, would not suffocate on his own vomit, the jury wrote.
When a brother insisted Piazza needed medical help, he was confronted and shoved into a wall, the report said. When the same brother insisted again that Piazza required help, he was told others were biology and kinesiology majors so his opinion wasn’t as valuable as theirs, the jury said.
Piazza tried to get up around 3:20 a.m. but fell backward and hit his head on the wood floor, the report said. He fell onto a stone floor at 5 a.m. and was last caught on video after 7 a.m. He was discovered in the basement at about 10 a.m.
“Timothy was lying on his back with his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air,” jurors wrote. “His chest was bare, his breathing heavy and he had blood on his face.”
During the next 40 minutes, fraternity brothers shook him, tried to prop him up, covered him with a blanket, wiped his face and attempted to dress him before one finally called 911, the jury said.
Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.
Another Hazing DEATH at a University Fraternity House…
Did Horacio Castillo III face a similar turn of events before his death? Did he die from heart attack due primarily to alcohol intoxication compounded by organ stress and shock after the first initiation beating? Did his family’s connections for instance to politicians such as Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri a factor for a more violent initiation relative to other pledges with no “connections of interest”? Is John Paul Solano actually a sympathizer to Castillo’s plight during the initiation?
Such queries about the crime, and more, depending on where our collective imagination carries us, point to the fact that what the rest of us could do is speculate. In this, broadcast media has the comparative advantage. At their worst, they are like starved crazed dogs, that, unlike snakes, attack in a frenzy shredding their food to unrecognizable pieces. Men and women of the law are able, at least, at court to contain their fangs within the procedural rules of law. Broadcast media still foam at the mouth even after having done it’s job reporting the necessary and publicly-legitimate facts. They go on and on, in a forever-mode of mad rampage. After what, no one is sure anymore, because, for sure, it’s not to set people free from the untruth. As what Congress’ new terms of reference implies from the televised series of it’s wasteful and illegal questioning of private individuals who are mere collateral damage in the doings of elected officials and civil servants, broadcast media outlets are the judge and jury in their own public trials, lasting all five minutes of air time, of a person’s or an organization’s reputation, usually, “persons and organizations of interest”, long before pertinent facts have been established and even after verdict has been handed by proper authorities, which provoke the viewing or listening public to hysteria or mob behavior toward the exposed person or organization.
Toward the have-nots of Philippine society, it entitles itself to adversarial questioning as for instance, say, in a corner of a police precinct in front of everybody in the world most of whom don’t know the person, the camera is placed intrusively close to the accused person’s face while asking in loaded words, “pinatay mo si xxx? saan mo tinapon yung kutsilyong ginamit mo? naka-droga ka nung ginawa mo? naka-inom ka nung nag-amok ka?” In another corner of another precinct, the camera is placed at the same distance, this time, to the victim’s while capturing the wailing screams, the snoggle trickling down the nostrils, the shock of unkempt hair, the blanked-out hollow eyes, the cries to their God and whoever else should or could help them, while persisting on the victim for a response to “ano ang nararamdaman nyo ngayon?” On the street, it walks over to the person sleeping on the wayside, the camera closing up onto the face after it did the same on the body while asking in behalf of the audience “pano ka napunta dito?” Yet, it restrains itself when in front of the top 10% of Philippine society. It does not, for instance, walk straight into the offices of the Zobel-Ayalas onto the plump leather chairs and bring the camera on their faces to ask them point blank, “ano ang ginawa nyo sa isang daang pamilyang naapektuhan sa redevelopment project ninyo?” Rather, they make an appointment and are mindful of the rights of the Zobel-Ayalas that they could be liable to violate.
Same with it’s one-sided reporting of and narrow commentaries on the crackdown on illegal drugs. Rallying all it’s resources – air time, investigations, and human resource – behind the street killings of the poor especially young so-called drug handlers and users serve to deflect public attention away from the other crucial side of the issue: the supply network. Throwing images of young innocents’ mutilated dead bodies 24/7 onto audiences’ laps inadvertently call up latent human emotions- my god, what’s happening to the world? Next the world knows, there’s a lynch mob on the street, the statements on the placards a far cry from the crowd’s level of sophistication, which of course broadcast media don’t fail to plaster on the screen accompanying the coverage with doomsday music. On the other hand, when the haves or in-the-know do come out to help authorities shed light on a wrongdoing, speaking like the Don and Dona they are in their own high-society brand of Taglish, their own community heavily censure them “we don’t do that” and even media don’t know what to do with their kind. Think the late Princess Diana trying to spill to the public her royal life behind the camera.
And, from among, say, 5,000 cases of street killings of young people across the country in a day, why the choice of that one from, say, Tondo? And how is that one representative of the 4,999 other killings? From among 10,000 cases of domestic abuse across the country in a day, why the choice of that one from, say, Caloocan? And how is that one representative of the 9,999 other abuses? And so on and so forth. Broadcast media’s silence on that vital piece of information which it should’ve divulged to the public is like serving broth to a customer which he paid for in full, but really it’s spit-infested. That’s fraud.
What about, recently, giving air time to the exiled head of the Communist rebels here, but not to families whose villages are raided and/or occupied by the rebels and whose loved ones were recruited, abducted, or killed by the rebels, and businesses who were forced by the armed group to provide them regular financial support? What about their voices in the midst of this modern day-irrelevant ideological push?
How would communities respect broadcasters who call themselves journalists who spend most of their day at the golf course with their big wig “friends”, have all the time to watch beauty contests from the front row, or enjoy free food on their advertisers’ accounts, and then go write or report about injustices done to the people? Actors at least have a more disciplined approach to their scripts and getting into their screen characters.
What are the ethical standards governing the country’s broadcast media? Below are some provisions in the Broadcast Code of the Philippines 2007 by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) whose members are liable to follow:
THAT broadcasting, because of its immediate and lasting impact on the public, demands of its practitioners a high sense of responsibility, morality, fairness and honesty at all times.
THAT broadcasting has an obligation to uphold the properties and customs of civilized society, maintain the respect of the rights and sensitivities of all people, preserve the honor and the sanctity of the family and home, protect the sacredness of individual dignity, and promote national unity.
Article 1. NEWS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Sec. 1. OBJECTIVE
News and public affairs programs shall aim primarily to inform the public on important current events and issues rather than merely to entertain. (Admonitory)
Sec. 3. FAIRNESS AND OBJECTIVITY
3.c. Side comments expressing personal opinions while a news item is being reported or delivered are prohibited to prevent the listener from mistaking opinion for news. (Serious)
3.d. When presented as part of a news program, editorials or commentaries must be identified as such and presented as distinct from news reports. (S)
Sec. 4. NEWS SOURCES
4.b. Only news that can be attributed to a source shall be aired. When a source cannot be identified by name, the reason for this should be made clear in the news report. (Grave)
4.c. News sources must be clearly identified, except when confidentiality of the source was a condition for giving the information. (S)
4.d. Information provided by confidential sources may be aired only if it is in the public interest to do so. (G)
4.e. Before airing information provided by a confidential source, an effort should first be made to look for a source who can be identified or who can corroborate the information provided by the confidential source. (S)
4.h. Rumors or gossips shall not be aired in the guise of news. Using terms like “anonymous source”, “confidential source” or “unknown source” shall not justify the airing of rumors and gossips especially in news programs. (G)
Sec. 7. UNCONVENTIONAL NEWS GATHERING AND REPORTING
7a. In the most extreme circumstances, when information being sought is vitally important to public interest or necessary to prevent profound harm, the use of hidden cameras or microphones and other similar techniques of news gathering and reporting may be resorted to. Before resorting to such techniques, conventional methods must first be exhausted. In all cases, the use of such techniques must conform to the law. (G)
7b. When material obtained through such techniques are broadcast, this must be presented fairly, factually and in the proper context. The right to privacy must be observed and harm to the innocent avoided. (G)
7d. When materials that have been obtained through unconventional techniques are received from third parties, their broadcast must conform with the relevant provisions under this section. (G)
Sec. 9. SENSATIONALISM
9.b. Morbid, violent, sensational or alarming details not essential to a factual report are prohibited. (S)
9.c. The presentation of news and commentaries must not be done in a way that would create unnecessary panic or alarm. (G)
Article 3. COVERAGE INVOLVING CHILDREN
Sec. 1. The child’s dignity must be respected at all times. The child should not be demeaned or his/her innocence be exploited. (G)
Sec. 2. The personal circumstance of the child that will tend to sensationalize his/her life must be avoided. (G)
Sec. 3. There should be a conscious effort to avoid sensationalizing, stereotyping, prejudging or exploiting children with disabilities or children belonging to minority or indigenous groups. (G)
Sec. 4. The right to privacy of children must always be respected. Since undue publicity or wrong labeling can cause harm to them, children who are victims of abuse or in conflict with the law shall not be identified, directly or indirectly. Any information that might cause them to be identified shall not be aired. (G)
Sec. 5. Surprise and unplanned (“ambush”) interviews of children are prohibited. (S)
Sec. 6. Child victims, child suspects, children accused of a crime, children arrested or detained on suspicion of wrong-doing, and children that are undergoing trial shall be protected from further suffering emotional distress or trauma; they shall be interviewed only upon the consent of their parent or legal guardian, unless the parent or guardian is the accused. The interview shall be conducted only with the authority and supervision of qualified lawyers, psychologists, or social workers responsible for their welfare. (S)
Sec. 7. Children should not be required, coerced or bribed to recall and narrate traumatic experiences, demonstrate horrific acts, or describe them in graphic details. (S)
Article 4. PERSONAL ATTACKS
Sec. 1. Personal attacks, that is, attacks on the honesty, integrity, or personal qualities of an identified person, institution or group1, on matters that have no bearing on the public interest are prohibited. (G)
Sec. 2. Programs intended to malign, unfairly criticize or attack a person, natural or juridical, are prohibited. (G)
Sec. 4. When personal attacks against any person, institution or group are aired, that person, institution or group shall be given a fair opportunity to reply immediately in the same program, if possible, or at the earliest opportunity. If not, the opportunity to reply should be given in any other program under similar conditions. (G)
Article 6. CRIME AND CRISIS SITUATIONS
Sec. 1. The coverage of crimes in progress or crisis situations, such as hostage-taking or kidnapping, shall consider the safety and security of human lives above the right of the public to information. If it is necessary in avoiding injury or loss of life, the station should consider delaying its airing.
Sec. 2. The coverage of crime and crisis situations shall not provide vital information, or offer comfort or support to the perpetrator. Due to the danger posed to human life in such situations, it shall be assumed that the perpetrator has access to the broadcast of the station.
Sec. 3. While the incident is going on, the station shall desist from showing or reporting the strategies, plans, and tactics employed by the authorities to resolve the situation—including the positioning of forces, deployment of machine and equipment, or any other information that might jeopardize their operations or put lives in danger.
Sec. 5. Anchors, reporters, or other station personnel shall not act as negotiators or interfere in any way in negotiations conducted by the authorities. If asked to assist in the negotiations, they shall first notify station management and carefully weigh how their participation will affect their journalistic balance before getting involved.
Sec. 7. The legal injunction to preserve evidence in a crime scene should always be kept in mind. When the incident is resolved, the coverage crew shall follow the lead of the authorities in the preservation of evidence, taking care not to move, alter, or destroy anything that might be used as evidence.
Sec. 8. The station should always be aware of the following provision in their legislative franchise: “The President of the Philippines, in times of rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order may temporarily take over and operate the stations of the grantee, temporarily suspend the operation of any station in the interest of public safety, security, and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any department of the government upon due compensation to the grantee for the use of the said stations during the period when they shall be so operated.”
Sec. 9. When interviewing family members and relatives, friends, or associates of the perpetrator, care shall be taken to avoid provoking the perpetrator, interfering with the negotiations, or hindering the peaceful resolution of the situation.
Sec. 10. The tone and demeanor of the coverage should not aggravate the situation. Anchors and reporters must always keep in mind that lives are in danger and could be placed at greater risk by the way they report.
Sec. 11. A coverage should avoid inflicting undue shock or [and] pain to families and loved ones of victims of crimes, crisis situations, or of disasters, accidents, and other tragedies. (S)
Sec. 12. Unless there is justification for doing so, the identity of victims of crimes or crisis situations in progress or the names of fatalities shall not be announced until
their next of kin have been notified, the situation resolved or their names have been released by the authorities. (S)
Sec. 13. Images that are gruesome, revolting, shocking, obscene, scandalous, or extremely disturbing or offensive, shall not be shown or described in graphic detail. When such images suddenly occur during a coverage, the station shall cut them off the air.
Sec. 14. Persons who are taken into custody by authorities as victims or for allegedly committing private crimes (such as indecency or lasciviousness), shall not be identified, directly or indirectly — unless a formal complaint has already been filed against them. They shall not be subjected to undue shame and humiliation, such as showing them in indecent or vulgar acts and poses. (S)
Article 7. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
Sec.1. The right to privacy of individuals shall be respected. Intrusion into purely private or personal matters which have no bearing on the public interest is prohibited. (G)
Sec.2. Persons affected by tragedy or grief shall be treated with sensitivity, respect and discretion; they should be allowed to suffer their grief in private. (S)
Sec.3. News coverage must not violate nor interfere with an individual’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. (S)
Sec.4. Care and sound discretion should be exercised in disclosing the identities of persons, by face or by name, so as not to harm their or their families’ reputation and safety. Proper labeling of a person as a “suspect,” “alleged perpetrator,” “accused,” or “convict(ed),” is required. (S)
Sec.5. The broadcast of material showing arrested or detained persons being physically assaulted or verbally abused in a manner that demeans or humiliates them is prohibited. (S)
Sec. 6. No broadcast personnel involved in the coverage of arrested or detained persons shall encourage or exhort the commission of violence against the arrested person or detainee. (S)
Article 10. CALLS OR MESSAGES
Sec..4 Letters, phone calls, e-mails, text messages and the like from unidentified sources or from sources who refuse to be identified shall not be aired. Materials from letters, phone calls, e-mails, text messages and the like when aired must be in accordance withthe provisions of this Code and shall be the responsibility of the station. (S)
Article 20. CULTURE AND TRADITION
Sec.5. Broadcasters must acquaint themselves with the culture, mores, traditions, needs and other characteristics of the locality and its people to best serve the community. (A)
Article 21. RESPECT FOR LAW AND ORDER
Sec. 1. Broadcast facilities shall not be used or allowed to be used for advocating the overthrow of government by force or violence.(G)
Sec. 2. The broadcast of materials which tend to incite treason, rebellion, sedition or create civil disorder or disturbance is prohibited. (G)
Article 24. CRIME AND VIOLENCE
Sec.1. Crime and violence and other acts of wrong-doing or injustice shall not be presented as good or attractive or beyond retribution, correction or reform. (G)
Sec.3. Violence shall not be encouraged and horror shall be minimized. Morbid and gory details are prohibited.(G)
Sec.5. Details of a crime or the re-enactment of a crime shall not be presented in such a way that will teach or encourage the audience how to commit it. (G)
Article 27. ON-AIR LANGUAGE
Sec. 2. Language tending to incite violence, sedition or rebellion is prohibited. (G)
Article 29. QUALIFICATION OF ON-AIR/PROGRAM PERSONS
Sec. 1. Persons who are allowed to handle programs shall have adequate knowledge and competence for the job to insure the integrity and credibility of the broadcast media. (S)
Sec. 2. Program persons shall adhere to the basic principles and ethical standards of journalism, including those provided in this Code. (S)
PART II IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS
Article 1. Complaints of violations of this Code shall be handled by the KBP Standards Authority which shall hear and rule on such complaints in accordance with duly established rules of procedure.
It’s all there, what research and evaluation studies of broadcast media, the more discerning members of the public, and even the President talk about when they say the press has gone rogue. Furthermore, the press retaliates at persons who are providing them truthful feedback. If it comes from the President, they challenge him alleging he’s going politics on them, that he has plans to gag them, that his ultimate motive is martial law, the elimination of the right to free speech, and once that’s done, he’d let in gold bar-birthing citizens from Titan to rule. Dear broadcast media, it’s not personalities who are out to get you. It’s the quality standards of your own profession and industry.