Monday, January 05, 2009

Hoping for change and reflection

I welcome 2009 with a new post.

I look forward to meaningful, liberating changes this year. I hope all the dark events that transpired in the past months (and years), especially on how the political elite has repeatedly raped our democracy and nation, will soon come to an end. I hope Filipinos would continue--and strengthen--their fight for truth, justice, and accountability from our government officials.

I hope 2009 would be a better year for press freedom in the Philippines and throughout the world, although under the current administration, I don't know if this is going happen. Looking at the interactive map the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has created on the killing of journalists in the Philippines, it shows that more journalists/media practitioners have been killed since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ascended to the presidency in 2001 than the combined terms of Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, and Joseph Estrada. You can click here to see the map or go to this link:

The map contains the names and case profiles of the slain journalists/media practitioners, including those who were not killed in the line of duty. You can categorize the cases based on the medium, region, gender, and administration. The map, as far as I know, is the first interactive tool of such kind in the Philippines and in the region.

The map was made possible with support provided by The Asia Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development.

In 2009, I hope the press community continues to reflect on its relevance in an age of information overload and in a period when investigative journalism are becoming less (despite the increasing complexity of our times), news organizations around the world are downsizing their staff, and revenues are diminishing.

Here's good read from the Columbia Journalism Review on the issue. The article explains journalism's current struggle for relevance and role in today's society, and argues that journalists would continue to play a very important function in an age of information overload.

Journalism’s battle for relevance in an 
age of too much information

By Bree Nordenson
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Feature — November / December 2008

Thus, we come to the heart of journalism’s challenge in an attention economy: in order to preserve their vital public-service function—not to mention survive—news organizations need to reevaluate their role in the information landscape and reinvent themselves to better serve their consumers. They need to raise the value of the information they present, rather than diminish it. As it stands now, they often do the opposite.

Read more here.

Other interesting reads below.

What Are Newspapers Selling?
Time to mine the depth and knowledge niche

Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Editorial — September / October 2008

By The Editors

Hired by Sam Zell to find innovative ways to market Tribune’s newspapers, and for the moment, Abrams is among the more controversial actors in the drama of American newspapers at the start of the new century. Regardless of what you think of Abrams and his ideas, there is a more fundamental question to consider: What is Abrams selling? Indeed, what are newspapers around the country selling these days?

Every few weeks, it seems, we read about another daily “transforming” itself, searching for a formula that will compel people to read it and, hopefully, go spend a lot of time on its Web site. These overhauls are often accompanied by a memo from the editor that explains how the changes are designed to help the newsroom “do more with less.”

That’s because the reality beneath the rhetoric is grim: fewer reporters, shorter stories, smaller newsholes, less institutional memory, more sections with titles like “Fun & Games” (The Sacramento Bee), and more Web features devoted to celebrities (Los Angeles Times). “Hyperlocalism,” which tends to have pride of place in these memos, has become the go-to strategy—last recourse?—for newspapers whose ambitions are rapidly contracting.

Read more here.

Fed-up newsrooms want a voice in their future

Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Essay — November / December 2008
By Julia M. Klein

When her Contra Costa Times colleagues compared her union organizing efforts to those of Norma Rae, Sara Steffens rented the 1979 Martin Ritt film—and was disconcerted to discover that the feisty textile worker immortalized by Sally Field lost her job. “I remember thinking, ‘I hope that doesn’t mean I’m going to lose my job,’ ” Steffens said late last summer.

On June 13, editorial workers at the Bay Area News Group—East Bay, a group of nine MediaNews properties that includes the Contra Costa Times, voted to be represented by The Newspaper Guild—Communication Workers of America. It was the guild’s largest U.S. organizing win since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel some two decades ago, according to Eric Geist, the union’s administrative director.

But victory came with a twist. Two weeks later, management announced a 13 percent reduction in the unionized workforce—and the thirty-six-year-old Steffens, an award-winning poverty and social-services reporter, was among the twenty-nine laid off.

The guild has filed an unfair-labor-practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Steffens and two other laid-off reporters involved in the organizing drive. The company, not surprisingly, denies any wrongdoing. “The decision on the RIF [reduction in force] had nothing to do with the people—it was the positions that people held and the elimination of redundancies,” says Marshall Anstandig, a senior vice president and general counsel for MediaNews’s California News Group. Nor, says Anstandig, was Steffens specifically targeted. “Believe me, she’s not that important.”


Whatever the legal outcome, the Contra Costa case illustrates the rising frustration—for both labor and management—in today’s shrinking newsrooms. It also hints at the obstacles confronted by rank-and-file editorial employees fed up with cost cutting and the erosion of newspaper quality and eager for more constructive change.

Read more here. editor Craig Silverman lists his news accuracy and corrections wishes for 2009. Some of his wishes: "Wouldn’t it be great if every news website had a regularly-updated online corrections page linked from their homepage? Wouldn’t it be great if all news sites placed corrections within the offending article?" Someone commented on his list, and interestingly wrote: "Lots of good ideas - but wouldn’t it be great if newspapers still had fully staffed copy desks?"

Thank you to all those who regularly visit my blog, even if I haven't posted for a long time. I've been very busy with work. Plus, as some of you know, I am currently an M.A. Journalism fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University. The Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism has graciously chosen me as one their "Fellowships for Emerging Leaders in Asian Newsrooms". Fellows are chosen for "their potential to contribute to the development of an independent, responsible and viable press in their communities." Click here for the full list of MA Journalism fellows for school year 2008-2009. MindaNews also wrote about the fellows here.

One of my stories, an assignment for my Advanced Reporting and Writing class under Dr. Eric Loo, was posted online, along with some works of the other students.

Beyond the veneer
Quiapo and Makati are worlds apart, but they share a few things

Interesting how two districts in the Philippine capital of Manila are so alike and yet so different. Hector Bryant Macale takes a peek, and gives a good view.

By Hector Bryant Macale
Oct. 2, 2008

MANILA -- Quiapo Church, Friday noon. Wearing a faded yellow shirt and tattered slippers, Mark tolerates the sweltering heat, unfazed by the hollering vendors or the smoke spewing from nearby jeepneys and buses. Mark is used to the chaos after working the streets for 25 years now.

“It’s Friday,” he says. “It’s a busy day for us.”

Friday is Quiapo Day when Catholics troop to the Quiapo Church to pray for miracles from the Black Nazarene. To vendors like Mark, they pray that churchgoers will notice them and buy their items.

Since early morning, Mark has been hawking his maroon handkerchiefs with Nazarene’s image. “The handkerchief is very effective. Just touch the Nazarene using this handkerchief and it will cure you of sickness,” he pitches to the devotees.

Mark is one of countless vendors around the Quiapo Church, built in 1588 by the Spanish. It’s home to the Black Nazarene, a 400-year-old life-size wooden statue of Jesus Christ. Devotees believe the statue has miraculous powers.

Every year, thousands of followers pay homage to the image during The Feast of Black Nazarene on Jan. 9. During the event’s 400th anniversary last year, close to 100,000 devotees attended the procession in Quiapo.

Read more here.

I'm ending this rather long post with a fond farewell to Bimbo, a colleague who just left CMFR to enter the newspaper industry and daily reporting beat. We will all miss you buddy. At the same time, let me welcome our newest staffwriter Aika Pascual, who in her few weeks' stay at the office has already shown us promise in work as well as in rare staff gimmicks.


bimbo said...

Ayus, nag-update din! hehe. Salamat pre (Sa pagmention dito at sa pinagsamahan natin sa CMFR)! Text text lang man! :D

bryant said...

Salamat rin Bimbs sa lahat-lahat. Hay. Kanino na ko magko-confide? Nyehehehe. Also put your and Aika's blog links sa names ninyo sa post(forgot to do it earlier). Kitakits!

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