By Chit Estella
CMFR, August 1, 2007
YEARS AGO, on the cusp of an inexplicably successful career in show business, Kris Aquino was said to have told her mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino, “Mom, I am your rich relative.”
If journalism were a family, entertainment reporting could easily make the same claim as the richest member. Not that its practitioners would be wealthier than the others, because they are not. It is just that showbiz reporting—among all forms of reporting—sells best. Showbiz magazines are doing very well and showbiz programs on TV are never rumored to be getting the ax.
For most readers and viewers, political reporting can often be boring. Business journalism still struggles to make itself understood by a larger audience. Crime stories are beginning to sound alike, with names and dates just filling in the blanks. But showbiz news? People never seem to have enough of it. And yet, entertainment news is not readily equated with “real” journalism. In this issue of PJR Reports, some of the country’s leading authorities on showbiz news explain why.
The media are forever in search of markets and they have found an exceedingly huge one in Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Once the target of small but thriving publications, the OFW audience has recently attracted the attention of giant media organizations as well. It’s an audience that is varied in composition but homogenous in needs. And the biggest need of all is news from home. A newspaper or television station would be foolish indeed to ignore this market. PJR Reports tracks the growing interest in OFW stories.
And while OFWs have become an indispensable topic for the news, there are Filipino journalists who have become overseas workers themselves. In her article, Patty Adversario writes how it was like to work in a foreign newsroom. She has lived to tell the tale and is back for good in her home country.
Similarly back—albeit for a short while—was Sheila Coronel, director of the Tony Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism in Columbia University. She shared with some journalists a new way of doing investigative journalism in a forum that is written about in this issue. Rather than fight the Internet, journalists are advised to see how they can use it to their advantage. Despite the awesome powers it has already shown, the Internet’s full potential is yet to unfold and journalists would be wise to keep themselves abreast of developments here.
The recent summit on extrajudicial killings which was organized by the Supreme Court is briefly reported on in this month’s issue. While the government has, by and large, remained indifferent to the abduction and murder of political activists and journalists, the high tribunal has raised the alarm and taken the lead in addressing the problem. In a time of forgotten lessons and fading memories, events such as this deserve our attention and support.