Media coverage of emergencies and natural disasters is often criticized for sensationalized reporting and exaggerating the danger of violence in society. This is what UNTV tries not to follow with the launch of Tulong Muna Bago Balita initiative.
In crises situations like when lives of people in emergency situations are at stake, helping is secondary only to reporting. In turn, the role of rescue and emergency responder is relegated to the police or other emergency response groups because reporters as witnesses are expected to obtain exclusive access to a scoop, the journalistic parlance to breaking the news first.
The race to report first is standard fare as the competition to become the No. 1 news source is a target of almost all media firms. When news is exclusive, any broadcast company who broke the news first will surely win audience.
At UNTV, correspondents are not pressured to make it their priority to break or report news exclusives so long as they put people’s safety and welfare first. In fact, the public service station is very much concerned with saving the lives of people in emergency cases, as contemplated by UNTV’s news advocacy, Tulong Muna Bago Balita (Assist Before Reporting).
UNTV CEO Daniel Razon, who broached the advocacy several years ago but only launched the cause in 2010 when he had the chance, even encourages the training of the station’s correspondents to equip them with rescue and safety skills for emergency missions.
“Our fellowmen are more important than anything else, more than getting and delivering news,” Razon was quoted saying during UNTV’s 6th anniversary celebration last July 18, 2010.
Currently, the news-and-rescue team is concentrated in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces. In order to carry out its rescue and emergency missions, UNTV launched 15 new, news and rescue mobile units last November 28, 2010. The rescue mobile units are equipped with facilities needed for rescue and first aid operations.
In 2011, Razon announced that the rescue mission training will be initiated in all UNTV’s local bureaus in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Last December 31, 2010, UNTV formally launched its first News and Rescue Command Center at the station’s building in Edsa, Quezon City, a unit similar to America’s Rescue 911 to assist in responding during emergency and rescue cases.
The Tulong Muna Bago Balita is considered a milestone in Philippine broadcasting history launched last July 2010, when UNTV introduced the first batch of correspondents who graduated from the training with the Search and Rescue Unit Foundation (SARUF), a recognized army rescue unit in the Philippines.