Saturday, March 29, 2008

New media group seeks to find truth

Thanks to Tonyo and Tita Ellen, I just learned that Vera Files is now online.

"Vera Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues," according to the group's website. Vera is Latin for "true".

Journalists comprising the board of trustees and main writers of Vera Files are some of the country's best journalists, whose investigative and in-depth stories exposed various wrongdoings in the various spheres of politics, governance, business, environment and society--and even helped in the ouster of a corrupt president.

Vera Files happened at the right time: It came at a time when the country is hopping from one controversy to another. Vera Files seeks to provide deeper and relevant information to help Filipinos make sense and understand the issues and make informed decisions about them, hold officials accountable to the people, protect and promote integrity of the country's institutions, and promote democratic governance.

Most of them have won awards at the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ), with two of them (Yvonne Chua and Luz Rimban--two of my brightest teachers in college) elevated to the JVOAEJ Hall of Fame. (Since it was established in 1990, the JVOAEJ, organized by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility where I work and one of the country's most prestigious awards for journalists, has only three Hall of Famers: Ma'am Yvonne, Ma'am Luz, and Sheila Coronel, the former executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism who is now the director of The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University in the United States.)

Other members of the Vera Files are Chit Estella and Booma Cruz, my former bosses in PJR Reports, both of whom I also deeply admire; Jennifer Santiago; and Ellen Tordesillas who was a reactor to our last forum on media coverage of political crises.

Visit the website of Vera Files here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Media's role in covering political crises

Recent events, including political controversies and the clash over issues of press freedom, have provoked questions about the role of the press during political crises.

To help explore these issues, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the Embassy of Canada are inviting you to a forum on “Media Coverage of Political Crises” that will be held today (March 25), 9:30 a.m. at the Filipinas Heritage Library (Makati Avenue, Ayala Triangle, Makati City). Melinda Quintos de Jesus and Luis V. Teodoro of CMFR will be the principal speakers, while Marshall McLuhan Fellow Ellen Tordesillas and BusinessWorld Editorial Board Chair Vergel O. Santos will be the reactors.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barack Obama's speech: "A More Perfect Union" (And isn't "perfect" an absolute adjective?)

Haven't really read colleague JB Santos's post on U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama so I think I'm going to reserve my thoughts on the issue for the meantime. Just saw from Youtube however that Obama's March 18 speech is the most viewed video this week.

Here's the clip:

Here's a copy of his speech.


Just want to add that there were some discussions regarding the use of comparison in "absolute" adjectives such as "perfect" or "unique". Here and here are just two of the many links regarding the issue. However, I agree on the discussion here that "more perfect" is correct. Also saw a post from Daily Writing Tips basically echoing similar points, but can't find the link. Sorry.

Writing compelling stories and new multimedia approaches in journalism

Finally. After more than a two-week hiatus and while taking my 15-minute break from transcribing an interview for a story for the April issue of the PJR Reports, I am back blogging again. I was planning to do a post something about Lent, but I got drained from trying to master singing the Pasyon overnight from our family's Pabasa activity. I guess knowing how to sing a song or two in the karaoke machine does not mean you can also be Pabasa's next singing sensation.

Anyway, Poynter Online--that informative resource tool for journalists--shares tips and suggestions from some of the best journalists in the United States on how to write compelling and outstanding stories.

Anne Hull, Dana Priest and others provide insider accounts. Plus: Roy Clark reports on the Benton blogging curve and Mallary Tenore blogs the conference.
By Bill Kirtz (more by author)
Professor, Northeastern University
Source: Poynter Online

Details. Details. Details. Top writers and editors last weekend called them the engine that drives every compelling story.

Their comments came at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism in Boston, March 14-16. Speakers offered tips on dramatizing investigations, doing narrative on deadline, identifying writing flaws and enhancing stories with multimedia.

Read more here.

Aside from talking about the importance of detail in writing wonderful narrative stories and using the right verbs, quote and attribution, Kirtz also discussed the pros and cons of multimedia storytelling. New York Times multimedia editor Andrew DeVigal, according to Kirtz, called new media as just a platform. "Story and story-telling hasn't changed," DeVigal said.

Talking about journalism in the age of new media, here's an article I wrote last year based on veteran journalist Sheila Coronel's presentation about new multimedia approaches in doing in-depth and investigative journalism.

Where three -or more- is not a crowd
A New Way of Reporting the News

by Hector Bryant L. Macale
Source: PJR Reports August 2007 issue

Faced by dwindling revenues and staff downsizing, should news organizations—the traditional gatekeepers of the news—be afraid of a world where blogs and citizen journalism have become increasingly important?

The future of journalism remains hotly debated among members of the press. Yet, news organizations may yet learn a thing or two from the new trends and techniques in which the news is being researched, reported, and presented.

“It’s a revolutionary moment in journalism. There is room for all kinds of experimentation now,” said journalist Sheila Coronel during her presentation on new trends in investigative reporting before a group of journalists last July 13. It was Coronel’s first visit to Manila since she assumed the post of inaugural director of The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at the Columbia University in the United States last year.

The first and one of only three Hall of Famers of the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Coronel is a co-founder of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism where she served as executive director for 16 years.

“The business models that supported journalism for the longest time, especially print journalism—which are circu-lation and advertising that allowed newspapers to get revenues—are slowly crumbling and possibly collapsing,” Coronel said, adding, “Many newspapers are losing their circulation.”

Moving to new media

The changes not only affect the print medium but the broadcast medium as well. If the average newspaper reader in the US is 50 years old, Coronel said, the average viewer, say of global TV news giant CNN, is 60 years old.

“The audience for the so-called mainstream media is dimi-nishing,” she said, adding, “That is why the revenues that have sustained mainstream media operations for so long are slowly moving to new media.”

As consumers leave the traditional forms of media, advertisers follow them to the online medium where user-generated content is king. The power to act as information’s gatekeeper is devolving increasingly to the audience. No longer the monopoly of news managers and editors, new journalism involves greater participation among consumers in any aspect—research, writing, and distribution, according to Coronel.

“We don’t exactly know where things are going,” she said, adding that the source of news and information is currently shaped by both the press and the consumers every second.

The idea of who the journalist is is also increasingly being contested. The audience now is not just a consumer of news “but also a producer of stories.”

Read more here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Let's have an eye on ethics

If you're a journalist and you haven't added the Eye on Ethics blog, then I strongly suggest you do. Now.

The Eye on Ethics: Asia Media Forum blog, is a joint project of the Asia Media Forum and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) to generate discussion on the unique ethical issues that confront journalism in Asia. The blog, the first to focus on journalism ethics in the region, reports and comments on developments in journalism in Asia that touch on those ethical issues and questions that often arise in the course of reporting, interpretation, and comment.

The blog, launched only this January, is edited by CMFR deputy director and PJR Reports editor Luis Teodoro. CMFR staffwriter and PJR Reports reporter, Don Gil K. Carreon, is the coordinator of the site. Comments and suggestions are welcome at Already, there was one who wrote to CMFR asking to put the code of ethics of an advertising body in the site.

Recent posts included the problem of Malaysian journalists in working in an enviroment pressured by the government to toe the official line, the issue concerning a government-initiated code of ethics in Bangladesh, and questions regarding professional relationship with sources, following police insinuations that a soldier involved in the Manila Peninsula incident escaped with the help of a reporter, with whom the former has a romantic relationship.

By the way, former CMFR intern Tat created a beautiful web advertisement for the Eye on Ethics. Here's her web ad:

Click here to see the full ad. She also made a web teaser:

Since the teaser is a GIF image, I suggest you come to Tat's blog to see it fully.

Speaking of Don, our resident Mr. Love is also the project coordinator for CMFR's latest publication, Libel as Politics. The book, launched during the international conference on press freedom and impunity two weeks ago, examines libel from the perspective of law, history, politics, and press practice. The volume provides an insight why defamation remains a crime in the Philippines despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing press freedom and expression.

Libel as Politics
Source: CMFR

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has released Libel as Politics, a publication that examines libel from the perspective of law, history, politics, and press practice. The volume provides an insight why defamation remains a crime in the Philippines despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing press freedom and expression.

Efforts to decriminalize libel have not prospered as politicians often use it as an effective harassment tool against journalists who subject them to unflattering reports. In 2007, broadcaster Alex Adonis was imprisoned for libel filed by Davao Rep. Prospero Nograles. Ironically, Nograles filed a bill for the decriminalization of libel last November.

Read more here.

Self-love photos

If you're a speaker, participant, or somebody who's interested in the discussions and presentations made during the international conference on press freedom and impunity organized by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), copies of available speeches and presentations as well as the conference program and photos are now available at the CMFR site.

Legal experts, journalists, press freedom and human rights advocates attend international conference on press freedom and impunity in Manila
Source: CMFR

Just three months after scores of journalists and media practitioners were arrested after covering the Manila Peninsula siege, over a hundred legal experts, judges, journalists, press freedom and human rights advocates from all over the world along with some local government officials gathered at the same site, this time to address a problem that has besieged the Philippines: journalist killings.

The "Impunity and Press Freedom" conference, held on Feb. 27 to 29, was organized by the Southeast Asian Press and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility with support from the Open Society Institute and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Click here for more.

Below are some photos we took during the international conference on press freedom and impunity in Makati City. Actually, photos we took of ourselves. Haha. Sorry. We're saving the rest of the photos of the conference and participants for the March 2008 issue of the PJR Reports.

CMFR staff

Taking a peek

With Indonesian lawyer Anggara and Cambodian human rights advocate Virak

With Anggara

With 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts Atmakasumah Astraatmadja, JB (who's planning to move to another blog), Atty. Nena Santos and another lawyer

The staff at Ilustrados in Manila

Since the conference ended on Feb. 29, the staff decided to attend and cover the Makati rally that day.

Forgive our tired looks below. Actually after the conference, I didn't eat lunch because I rushed back to my room to fix some documents needed that day and scrambled my way back to the office. And off I went to the rally. My dinner that day was actually a lunch and dinner plus midnight snack.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Tangled Web of Corruption and Greed

What's the connection between the NBN-ZTE deal and the international dispute over Spratlys? Why is the NBN-ZTE scandal connected with previous controversial deals such as the North Rail and South Rail projects?

Watch Ricky Carandang's report on the issue below. Hats off to him and The Correspondents for explaining the larger picture. Clips courtesy of Youtube user malfoyprincess.

In his blog, Carandang explains his report further. Treason, he writes.

Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas discusses why the joint seismic study agreement between the Philippines and China covers an area that laps the western shores of Philippines. "Sold: 24,000 sq. km. of Philippine territory," she writes. Here's another report on the issue from and Newsbreak.

How much more can the Filipinos take?

This administration must not get away with this issue this time. If it does--the way it was able to do so in the past scandals since the "Hello, Garci" scandal--not only do erring officials get away again with their acts of wrongdoing. Worse, as a long-term damage, we allow the growing brazenness of the political class to commit corruption, undermine public and private institutions, escape prosecution, and continue to reign in this sorry land of ours.

Not in our name. Not in the name of our ancestors and heroes. Not in the name of our children and the future Filipinos to come.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Alert for Help

Got this from text.

"Juan Escandor, Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent in Bicol, and his three kids, are being pursued and harassed by the Army's 31st IB of 9th ID after his ex-wife, who had left the underground, escaped a hunt last Feb. 10. Please appeal to the Armed Forces of the Philippines not to hurt Escandor and his three kids."

Increasing the pressure

What a week that was.

First there was the international conference on press freedom and impunity by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that kept me busy for the last few weeks.

Here's a report on the outcome of the event by Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter and conference participant Ryan Rosauro:

New campaign vs press killings launched
By Ryan Rosauro
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates have joined hands in pushing for bolder measures to fight the culture of impunity that has allowed the ballooning number of journalists killed in the line of duty and made a mockery of press freedom and democracy in the country.

The campaign was launched at the end of a three-day international conference on "Impunity and Press Freedom" at The Peninsula Manila on Friday that brought together legal experts and press freedom advocates from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Journalists, prosecutors, judges, and human rights advocates from such countries as Colombia, Guatemala, Argentina, Spain, the United States, Indonesia, and the rest of Southeast Asia shared their experiences to help find solutions to the unabated and unsolved killings of "truth bearers" in the Philippines.

Read more here.

For more details of the conference, click here and here. I know there are a number of reports about the conference that are available as well, but I'm pretty swamped with emails and news alerts right now so I guess I have to post them sometime later.

And of course, there was last Friday's Makati rally. Manolo Quezon gives a comprehensive post of what happened, as well as links to other news, reactions, analyses, photos, and videos on the rally. Most of the CMFR staff were in the rally. I'll try posting some photos when I get back to the office.

Being a media reporter that I am, I am interested on how media organizations covered the rally. Malaya reporter Anthony Ian Cruz gives us a clue of the coverage.

Ricky Carandang, meanwhile, has this excellent entry on the $8-billion loan by the Chinese government to the Philippines and its grave, grave implications.

I guess not being online for almost a week has dire consequences for me. Lots of catching up to do.
Blog directory