Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just when we need journalists like David

Mr. David Halberstam, you will be sorely missed.

David Halberstam, Pulitzer-Winning Reporter, Killed
By Ryan Flinn and Dan Reichl (Bloomberg)

David Halberstam, a journalist- historian whose reporting on the Vietnam War won a Pulitzer Prize, died in a car crash. He was 73.

He was killed yesterday when three vehicles collided in an intersection in Menlo Park, California, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. He was a passenger in a car driven by a journalism student that was broad-sided. Halberstam was wearing a seat belt, the San Jose Mercury News reported today, citing Harold Schapelhouman, chief of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

Halberstam chronicled the latter half of the 20th century, from darker moments, such as racism in the U.S. South during the civil-rights movement, to lighter fare, including lifelong friendships among aging baseball icons. He wrote 21 books over four decades after working for the New York Times.

"The world lost a wonderful man and a great journalist,'' New York Times Co. Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said today at the company's annual meeting in New York. "David, you will be sorely missed.''

Read more here.

Just in case I forget

Philippine Eleksyon 2007, one of the must-read blogs this elections, posted about the second report of the news media elections coverage monitoring project of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

Click here for the post. The second report can be viewed here.

The third report is going to come out soon. Please watch out for it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dead journalists? Repressed press? The attacks continue

To those who have been following my Twitter posts lately, they know I've been terribly busy these days (since when did I stop becoming busy, my friends from PulpCommunity who have been egging me to join their swimming break on April 29 would say). I'm sure the frequent readers of this blog (if there are any) would notice how I have become slower in posting here. Plus, I'm out of Manila next week for a weeklong stay in Jakarta for the regionwide activities for this year's World Press Freedom Day. Sigh. I'm actually looking forward to it (visited Bali, but haven't gone to Jakarta), but half of me feels it is better for me to stay here, given the tons of work I'll be leaving here. Sure, I'm taking half of my work in Jakarta, but my Jakarta travel happens at a time when there's so much work in the office. Our interns at the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility can attest to this, I guess. (Note to myself: Have to convince Criz to help me convince our PulpComm friends that I won't be coming to the swimming-slash-reunion, even though half of my friends there would probably not understand and be angry at me for not going, even though the last time we met was ages ago.)

So here I am, just finished with that backbreaking discourse analysis of television news programs of the CMFR's third report of the news media elections coverage monitoring project. Wow. Even just writing that line makes me tired already.

But what makes me more disconcerted these days, however, is this latest stunt from Malacañang. The pattern of intimidating the media continues.

President Arroyo issues order further restricting access to information
Source: CMFR

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has issued an Executive Order (EO) that will restrict public and media access to official information. EO 608, issued on 20 April 2007, will create a National Security Clearance System that will "protect and ensure the integrity and sanctity" of classified information against "enemies of the state."

"It is the duty and responsibility of all government departments, agencies and offices to implement security measures that will protect and ensure the integrity and sanctity of classified or sensitive materials or information they have access to or in their possession," the EO said.

Heads of government agencies with access to classified matters are directed by EO 608 to implement and institutionalize the security clearance procedure approved by the office of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

"Any unauthorized disclosure, sharing, publication or use of the information contained in the classified documents or materials shall be considered a grave offense and shall be punishable in accordance with civil service rules and regulations," the EO said.

Departments are also ordered to designate a security officer who will assume responsibility for holding classified information.

Read more here. Meanwhile, physical attacks against journalists continue. Another reporter gets killed. I think I should ask CMFR for a raise. Journalists in this country have become an endangered species. While the Philippines can claim it has the freest press in Asia on paper, the reality speaks otherwise. To borrow the words of CMFR deputy director Sir Louie, God bless all of us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Are we going to rely on Wazzup Wazzup for news soon?

Ooh wow. Actually, I have read similar trends before -- even sharing them before with my colleagues at the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility -- but everytime something like this comes out, I always get surprised. Hmm... better yet, make that flabbergasted.

When applied locally, it's like having the most informed Filipinos relying on Wazzup Wazzup for news and information. Just to make sure, should we now start calling Toni Gonzaga the next Korina Sanchez or Mel Tiangco? Or is Vhong Navarro the new Mike Enriquez?

From Media Channel

Best-Informed Also View Fake News, Study Says

Americans may have more news outlets today than two decades ago, but they still don’t know much more about current events than they did then, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

But here’s one big difference: the survey respondents who seemed to know the most about what’s going on — who were able to identify major public figures, for example — were likely to be viewers of fake news programs like Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”; those who knew the least watched network morning news programs, Fox News or local television news.

Only 69 percent of of people in the latest survey could come up with Dick Cheney when asked to name the vice president; in 1989, 74 percent could name Dan Quayle. Fewer could name the governor of their state (66 percent now compared with 74 percent in 1989) and fewer could name the president of Russia (36 percent now compared with 47 percent before).

In 1989, fully 81 percent of people knew that the United States had a trade deficit; today, only 68 percent knew.

The survey found that education was the best predictor of who would do well on the questions. “However,” it said, “despite the fact that education levels have risen dramatically over the past 20 years, public knowledge has not increased accordingly.” About 27 percent of Americans are college graduates.

Read more here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Unleashing the media geek in me

Last week, we instructed our batch of interns this year to read and study, among other publications and documents, two recent publications of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. Now I just remembered that I haven't posted something about these goodies. With the elections fast coming and the continued attacks against the press, these books sure come in handy.

AS A contribution to the efforts to further professionalize journalism practice in the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has released an ethics manual for journalists and media practitioners in the country last March.

The CMFR Ethics Manual: A values approach to news media ethics

Based on American journalism scholar Edmund Lambeth’s values approach to media ethics, The CMFR Ethics Manual: A values approach to news media ethics demonstrates the link between principle and practice, giving reason and meaning to both prescription and prohibition.

Written by CMFR executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus and deputy director Luis V. Teodoro, the manual reflects CMFR’s stand that ethical journalism cannot be divorced from competent journalism. The standards of competence and ethics are not in conflict but support each other. Ethics promotes all basic human values. The requirement of speed has to be balanced by the more important need for accuracy, for example: ethical practice means journalists need to get it right and on time.

The manual is designed for those in practice —journalists who find themselves confronted by problematic situations during coverage and on the beat. Questionable practice has become the norm, unquestioned for its commonness.

Limited Protection: Press Freedom and Philippine Law
The 1987 Constitution clearly protects freedom of speech and expression in the Bill of Rights. But the terms of this protection are vague, even in the interpretation of the courts, where those in power can file libel charges against journalists with the greatest of ease.

To provide journalist a better understanding of their rights and the protections they can seek from law, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) published Limited Protection: Press Freedom and Philippine Law last December.

Read here for more information about these books and other CMFR publications.

Do you love Mother Earth?

Since Earth Day is fast approaching (on April 22), here are some of the major activities in celebration of that event. Got this from former environment secretary Elisea Gozun, recently named one of seven Champions of the Earth for 2007 by the United Nations Environment Program. Gozun is the first Filipina to be named as such.

1. Ave Maria : Healing Prayer for Ecology

Almost a hundred classical singers and instrumentalists will perform various versions of the 'Ave Maria' Prayer at the Ave Maria Gaia Mystica Concert, a multimedia event to be held at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park on April 20 to celebrate Earth Day 2007.

The multimedia concert will feature videos of our very own Tubbataha Reefs Reserve, Donsol Whale Sharks, Bohol and Malapascua Dive Sites, the Olango Bird Sanctuary, Balabac Strait Wildlife and the Agusan Marsh, and our extensive mountain ranges such as the Cordilleras and the Sierra Madre.

The classical singers will perform the opening number of Gounod's Ave Maria, usually intoned by Benedictine Monks, accompanied by Raul Sunico and Mary Ann Espina at two grand pianos. The grand finale, accompanied by the lighting of candles by the audience, will be Verdi's Ave Maria, accompanied by the Makiling Ensemble.

Famous Ave Maria works by Caccini, Tosti, Saint-Saens, Malvare, Schubert, Montecillo, Verdi, and Mascagni will be interpreted along with local compositions by Buencamino, Abelardo, Santiago, Francisco, Dadap, De Leon, Bolipata, and Cayabyab. Versions of the Ave Maria will also be sung in Philippine dialects such as Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, and Bikolano.

The singers will be accompanied by renowned instrumentalists such as Lourdes Gregorio on the harp, Renato Lucas with the cello, Coke Bolipata with the violin, and Lester Demetillo with the classical guitar. Harold Galang conducts. Fides Cuyugan-Asencio is musical director.

2. Earth Day 2007 opens with ceremonies at 8 a.m. April 22, 2007 at the Quezon Circle, when Department of Environment Secretary, Angelo Reyes delivers the State of Philippine Environment Address. Tony Meloto, Filipino of the Year, will issue the call to action to heal the land and ourselves. Justice Emilio Gancayco, chair of the Quezon City Development Foundation, will give the opening remarks, Mayor Sonny Belmonte will deliver a message, and closing remarks will be delivered by Edicio de la Torre, Secretary General of Earth Day Network. Rendering musical numbers will be the Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir conducted by Jerry Dadap.

Special feature of the morning is the EcoGov Photo Exhibit on good environmental governance in local communities. Secretary Reyes, US Ambassador Kristie Kennie and USAID Mission Director Jon Lindborg will cut the ceremonial ribbon.

3. Later, there will be a Misa Angelorum Pontifical Mass to pray for the 'Children of the Planet' to be presided by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, D.D. at the Manila Cathedral at 12 noon. Four nationally and internationally known Boy's Choirs will sing at the Mass, the Kilyawan Boy's Choir, Mark Carpio, conductor, Las Boy's Choir, Armando Salarza, conductor; Mandaluyong Boy's Choir, Sebastian Trinidad, conductor; and the Tiples de Santo Domingo, Eugene de los Santos, conductor. A thousand children from Smokey Mountain will be in attendance, 100 of them First Communicants.

4. At 7 pm the same day, SIBOL 2007, a spectacular “Light and Sound” Show highlighting the urgent need to preserve the environment, will be held at the CCP Front area. The lawn, the ramp, the fountain lagoon, and the façade will serve as stage and backdrop for a spectacular display of visual projections. A 20-minute art film on the environment, plus musical numbers and acrobatic performances directed by Chris Millado will be presented, with the participation of various artists and CCP resident companies.

5. The screening of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” Documentary, a Greenpeace Initiative, will be held the whole day at SM Malls and other public places.

6. Awarding Ceremony for the Ecological Solid Waste Management Nationwide Search for Model Barangays will be held on April 30, 2007 at Malacanang Palace.

To learn more about the coming Earth Day celebrations, please contact the Secretariat office c/o Green Army Foundation: Tel. (632) 396-5027 to 29,

Fax (632) 442-0410 or log on to for an updated events listing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Meet the news photographers, journalism world's second class citizens

Journalists like Alex Adonis are not the only ones worrying in the world of journalism about the low pay they are getting. News photographers too -- considered in the profession as "second-class citizens," as Luz Rimban had written in the March 2007 issue of the PJR Reports -- often get meager salaries, with many of them getting paid per photograph. The average price for a published photo? For tabloids, it's a whopping fee between P75 to 125; for the broadsheets P200 to 250. And that is if your photo, indeed gets published. And to think that those rates are given by Manila papers. I am quite sure the pay gets less in community papers.

Some who are regularly employed by major news organizations get around P9,000, about the entry-level rate for a reporter. Still, that's not enough to cover all the expenses that come with the job -- the pricey camera equipment, film, transportation, food, and other expenses. And what about the family waiting home for your salary to pay off daily expenses?

It would have been better if the pay increase is faster. But in the case of photographers... let's just say your old circa-1990s dial-up internet connection is faster than the salary increase. As one photographer had told Ma'am Luz, "In 1987, the pay of a photographer per month was P5,000. After 10 years, in 1997, it became P7,000. In 2007, it will go up to P9,000. Just imagine, every decade, we get only a P2,000 increase. How will we live decently on that kind of money?”

Frankly, I love this issue. It gives us a peek on the world of news photographers -- often out of the media limelight, "discriminated" against by the profession where they work, underpaid, overworked, and yet very much needed.

And oh, while you're at it, please do read the story Venus Elumbre and I co-wrote on the recent forum the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility organized regarding its elections coverage monitoring project.

Main Story

The life and (hard) times of the news photographer
The Other Journalist
by Luz Rimban

Other Stories

Monitoring the coverage of the May '07 elections
Will Media Do a Better Job This Time?
by Venus L. Elumbre and Hector Bryant L. Macale

TV anchors and the news
What You See and What You Get
by Junette B. Galagala

The UN envoy on th political killings:
'In a State of Denial'
by Rachel E. Khan

Reporters Without Borders on the Philippine press
by More Murders and a New Enemy

The life and death of a crusader
The Ghost of Dong Batul
by Yasmin D. Arquiza

The rewards and heartaches of photojournalism
Life Behind the Lens
by Mike Perez

Buhay ng Photographer
(the original version as submitted by Mike Perez)

Monday, April 09, 2007

A sad story of one journalist

Alex Adonis's case reflects two things: that libel should be decriminalized in the Philippines, and that something must be done to improve the meager salary of Filipino journalists. To think that Adonis has spent 18 years in the profession, and yet he only gets P7,500 a month from previous employer Bombo Radyo Davao, most likely not enough for his family's expenses. (Adonis has a wife and two children.)

But when you think about it, how many media organizations in the Philippines have the capability to improve the salaries of their journalist employees? Some organizations don't even pay their employees on time. Some don't even pay at all.

No wonder corruption in the media in the Philippines is quite rampant. This can be partly attributed to the sad economic plight of the journalists.

Jail for journalist charged with libel
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

For failing to defend himself in court because he could not afford a lawyer, a radio broadcaster from Davao, a province located south of Manila, has been convicted of libel and is now serving time in jail.

Libel is a criminal offense in the Philippines.

Alex Adonis, who used to be a commentator of dxMF Bombo Radyo (Booming Radio), was convicted of libel by Regional Trial Court Branch 17 Judge Renato Fuentes and sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

The libel case was filed by Davao First District Representative Prospero Nograles, who is also the house majority floorleader, in October 2001, because of a report by Adonis.

Adonis had claimed that the congressman was seen running naked in a Manila Hotel shortly after the husband of a woman he was having an affair with caught them in bed. Nograles denied the allegation.

Fuentes, however, acquitted Adonis’ co-accused, Dan Vicente, the station manager of Bombo Radyo General Santos, a province of South Cotabato, located south of Davao.

Online publication Mindanao Times reported that Fuentes absolved Vicente due to the death of the prosecution’s primary witness who heard the Vicente and Adonis broadcast.

Adonis, who has spent 18 years in the media industry, failed to defend himself in court and the verdict against him was promulgated in absentia.

He was arrested by the police in the Bangkerohan Public Market of Davao City while he was visiting his mother on 19 February 2007.

Davaotoday, an online publication, reported that financial woes were a major factor in Adonis’ conviction.

Read here for more.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The press and the demonization of Ka Satur and Bayan Muna

Hot news yesterday was the release of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo. Going by the second report of the media coverage of this year's senatorial and party-list elections of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), it seems that Ocampo and Bayan Muna would continue to be the top party-list subject in the coverage in the next few weeks or so.

But the question is: Sure, there maybe more coverage of party-list groups and candidates this year than in the 2004 elections, but do reports explain enough or at least attempt to provide background and explanatory material on the significance of party-list issues, including Ocampo's arrest -- or in CMFR's words, "what was evidently a heightened government effort to demonize Ocampo and his party?"

CMFR's findings: There was little evidence -- at least in the fourth and fifth weeks of the campaign -- showing as such.

Second Report (March 3 - March 16)
Arrest of Ocampo triggers surge in party list elections coverage
Source: CMFR

The filing of charges against Bayan Muna's Congressman Saturnino "Satur" Ocampo, his arrest, the attempt to fly him to Leyte, and his detention at the Manila Police District headquarters triggered a surge in media coverage of the party-list elections during the period March 3–16, 2007.

This was among the findings of the ongoing Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) monitor of media coverage of the senatorial and party-list elections. CMFR is monitoring the TV news programs TV Patrol World and Bandila (ABS-CBN 2); 24 Oras and Saksi (GMA-7); Sentro (ABC-5); Primetime Teledyaryo (NBN-4), as well as the front pages of the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star.

CMFR is issuing two-week reports on the media coverage of the elections. It issued its first report on March 16.

Check CMFR web for more details, including the findings of the first report. Ocampo's photo from Tonyo.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The country's answer to Citizen Kane and other great films

So finally, someone was able to get a clip of Mark Lapid's classic quote. I learned there was a clip -- and some spin-off clips -- from Caffeine Sparks.

Aside from the two spin-off videos Caffeine Sparks posted, here are more hilarious reactions posted in Youtube:

The best I've seen so far:

Here's the full trailer of the movie, courtesy of Youtube user Deyey:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Interesting, interesting

Forgot to include the reports from Tarra Quismundo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN News on the first report on the "Monitoring the news media coverage of the 2007 national elections" project of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

The second report is going to be out soon, maybe sometime this week. Interesting findings, I must say.

The Opt-Out Myth

Talking about this year's interns, I noticed that a number of them are into women's issues or are involved with women's groups. Maybe this recent story from the Columbia Journalism Review would interest them. Interesting read.

Women, work, and the press:
The Opt-Out Myth

Most moms need to work to make ends meet. So why do the news media focus relentlessly on the elite few who don’t?

E.J. Graff, senior researcher at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, marshals a mountain of research to obliterate the myth—perpetuated in story after story by our elite news outlets, especially The New York Times—that a great swath of working mothers in this country are either bolting the career track or dreaming of doing so.

These articles—trend stories that help to frame the national discourse on motherhood and work in America—rely too heavily, Graff argues, on anecdotal evidence from a narrow socioeconomic strata (white, professional women with husbands who have high-end jobs)—and ignore the demographic reality that most women in this country must work to support their families.

Beyond that, the articles fail to report on the very real hostility toward mothers in the workplace; the harsh economic penalties for women who downshift, even briefly, to handle family responsibilities; and the complete failure of U.S. public policy to support working parents in today’s all-hands-on-deck economy.

For more information, go here.

A tough act to follow

"A peculiar characteristic of this batch is that students are concerned about media issues and the national situation. They’re a product of the times—the volatile political situation shaped them.”
- Danilo Arao, "Journalists in the making"

"Kakapakita lang sakin ni bossing Bryant nang March 28 2Bu section ng Philippine Daily Inquirer. In general tungkol 'yun sa batch 2007. Nag-feature sila ng mga mga nagtapos ng Engineering at Journalism sa UP na may potensyal na maging mga bigatin sa mga larangang iyon.

Surprise! Surpise! Lima sa mga 11 binanggit nilang mga Journalism graduate ay interns namin dito sa CMFR nung nakaraang taon. Astig! Congrats kina Mark Merueñas, TJ Decano... Janice Ponce De Leon, Richie Catalan, Melanie Pinlac. Sana tumuloy nga sila sa mundo ng pamamahayag. Kelangan ng propesyon ng mga mahuhusay at mga ethical na mga tulad ninyo!"

- Don, "Asteeeeg! Nice CMFR interns!"

"Oh? Buti tumanggap na kayo ng non-UP interns."

- Text message from friend Calix, after receiving my text of this year's batch of interns

Kudos to our five former interns at the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) whose photos and views were recently published in the Inquirer: Mark Merueñas, TJ Decano, Janice Ponce De Leon, Richie Catalan, and Melanie Pinlac. Congrats as well to the others who have volunteered working or are presently working as volunteers for various CMFR projects: Glenn Perez, Mark Ubalde, and Jake Soriano.

I agree with Prof. Danny's observation about this batch. This batch is particularly concerned and critical about the issues confronting the nation, passionate in their writing and interests, eager to learn and re-learn things, aware of the role journalists play in the society. This is the type of practitioners we should have in the press.

We met this year's batch of CMFR interns in last week's orientation. This year's interns come from various schools in Metro Manila -- the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, St. Scholastica's College, and Far Eastern University. And yes Calix, we do accept interns from other schools. It's just that most of the time, the interns applying are from UP. Interns from UP still dominate the batch every year, but we have seen over the last few years a rising number of interns from other schools.

Last year, the most outstanding interns were all from UP, including Janice, Mark, Melanie, and Junette (who now works at CMFR). Will there be students from other schools who will become this year's most outstanding interns? Let's see. But here's hoping to see a batch that is equally great, if not greater, than the previous one. No pressure, guys, but last year's batch of interns was a tough act to follow.

Here's the Inquirer article that included some of CMFR's interns and volunteers.
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