The Listening Post

Duterte’s war on drugs and those reporting it

What’s behind the Philippine president’s war on the media and NGOs? Plus, reporting on the working class in the US.

On The Listening Post this week: The most violent week yet in Duterte’s Philippines sees over 90 killed and NGO workers threatened. Plus, reporting on labour and the working class in the US.

Duterte’s war on drugs and those reporting it

Since coming to power last June, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been on a mission to eradicate what he claims is the country’s pandemic drug problem.

The brutal crackdown on the drug trade in the country is showing no signs of slowing down. Last week, 58 alleged drug dealers and users were killed in and around the capital, Manila. One of the victims, a 17-year-old, made headlines. Police say he was killed in a two-way firefight. Eyewitnesses, backed by CCTV footage, tell a different story.

President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed the killings of children as “collateral damage” while labelling anyone who criticises his deadly approach as an “enemy of the state”.


Maria Ressa, CEO, Rappler
Vergel Santos, chairman, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
RJ Nieto, publisher, Thinking Pinoy
Karen Gomez-Dumpit, commissioner, Commission on Human Rights
Felipe Villamor, Philippines reporter, The New York Times

On our radar

  • New owners for two major South African media outlets, but their pro-Zuma reporting is likely to stay the same.
  • Global press freedom watchers, Reporters Without Borders, says its website has been blocked in Egypt.
  • Fictional stories about Qatar’s rift with its neighbours continue to dominate regional media in the Gulf.

Reporting labour in the US media

There was a time when just about every American news organisation had at least one reporter dedicated to the labour beat.

Yet, over the years, the US media has deserted workers and sought more upscale, affluent audiences.

When labour issues are reported, they are often seen through the lens of business, leaving little opportunity for the US working class to see itself and its concerns reflected in the media.

The Listening Post‘s Will Yong reports on the labour beat and representations of working class Americans in the US media.


Cora Lewis, labour reporter, Buzzfeed
Michelle Chen, contributing writer, The Nation
Mike Elk, cofounder, Payday Report
Christopher R Martin, professor, University of Northern Iowa