By Chit Estella
July 29, 2006
At this time of the year, certain journalists find themselves in a celebratory mood. It is that season when winners of the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ) are announced. This year, there is double the reason to celebrate. Literally, the number of winners has increased two-fold as a result of a decision to create separate categories for daily and non-daily publications. In short, there are more winners, as can be seen in this month’s issue of PJR Reports.
To be sure, this development has also led to some puzzlement which, in turn, led to some “buzzing” (the term used by Executive Director Melinda Quintos de Jesus of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility or CMFR). All taken in stride since that is what journalists are supposed to do—to ask questions after some “buzzing.”
How to encourage and reward good journalism to the widest extent possible—that is the happy problem of CMFR. Friendly suggestions, anyone?
As CMFR tries to reach out to more journalists, PJR Reports also attempts to cover more areas in its news monitoring. Having started with the print medium, it has expanded its sights to include television news. Recently, it has also started to monitor provincial newspapers. Certainly not all provincial papers, not even most of them. For this reason, PJR Reports would be happy to be informed of the existence of more provincial publications and to avail itself of copies for review.
Despite what people may say about media, the industry does not seem to lack new members. The first sign would be the burgeoning number of students who enter journalism schools. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, journalism students go to media outfits to test the waters, so to speak, by immersing themselves in the environment where “real” journalists work. For one summer, they move about like journalists and see if the job could hold them enthralled for a lifetime.
And what do they find?
Six interns at CMFR were asked to stay for a week or so in some of the beats that reporters regularly cover. On assignment for PJR Reports, they were asked to observe the culture in the different beats. Their reports turned out to be variants of an old fairy tale—no, not the tale about knights in shining armor (as one listener in the JVOAEJ discussion described crusading media members) but more like the boy who saw through an emperor’s new clothes. That fairy tale ended in guffaws; the modern one ends with some sadness and a crying need to hope.
Still, students on a week-long assignment can only see so much. The stories are lived by the journalists who pound the beat everyday. Two such stories are reported here involving ABS-CBN reporter Lynda Jumilla and Manila Bulletin reporter Ferdie Maglalang. Theirs are the everyday hazards that members of the press must deal with.
What to say to young people who wonder what journalism is all about? It’s a job where you always look for stories, often get into trouble, and occasionally get rewarded for doing the right thing.