By Pachico A. Seares
Public & Standards Editor
Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star Superbalita [Cebu]
Few people exemplify two extremes among news sources: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Pop whose Spurs lost yesterday to Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals is reticent and sardonic, often confused with being rude. To Pop, the media distracts him from winning basketball but talking with the press is part of his NBA contract.
Mayor Mike who won reelection over the much-heralded political kingpin Tomas Osmeña likes to talk with media, often not knowing when to stop. A standing joke among City Hall reporters, before recording became digital, is they needed extra tape for Mike’s lengthy answers.
Sports is as different from politics and governance as basketball is from “siklot” but what the news reporter needs from news source is pretty much the same: information to provide meaning, depth, or color to the story.
The sports writer gets the basics of the story from the action on the hard-court. Why the coach made this move or used that strategy may be explained by the game’s results. Neither the coach nor the sports writer has much need for each other.
Pop knows that, which may be the reason he he doesn’t suffer clueless sports writers gladly and has no patience for questions or comments that neither enlightens nor helps him steer the Spurs to victory.
He tends to snap at impertinent questions and the reporter wouldn’t know which is more merciful: silenced with Pop’s sharp retort or snubbed by his quick exit.
Why did the Spurs lose to the Heat? The Pop squelcher that “their team scored more and ours scored less” would’ve been typical from the Spurs coach.
The reporter may need more from the mayor to understand his decision to reject police chief Mariano Natuel Jr. just as as the mayor may need the reporter to listen to the official’s spin that it was “me (Mike) not he (Natuel).”
Less and more
It’s not odd that few reporters–be he one who covers an NBA game in the U.S. or one who covers a Cebu City Hall press-con–hardly get what they want.
From Pop, will the reporter get much less and from Mayor Mike, will the reporter get much more?
That’s not entirely accurate, as the “less” that Pop dishes out to the sports writer may be enough for the story while the “more” that Mayor Mike gives the political writer may be much less than what the story needs.
In either case, it depends on the reporter: the sports writer has to be smart enough to ask only what Pop can answer and the political writer has to segregate the nugget from the pile of information the mayor spews out.
Sports writers have accepted Pop and his quirks. City Hall reporters still have to give up trying to change Mayor Mike.
What did ‘Watching
the Watchdog’ mean?
The theme of the 17th National Press Forum of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), held last June 13-14 in Makati City, perked up ears of media watchers: “Watching the Watchdog: Reexamining Ourselves.”
A familiar theme, tackled in past media conferences, but at least the previous discussions dealt with faults of media as watchdogs, primarily, their much-talked-about corruption.
Check the program and you don’t find a single word about corruption. The closest subject under which it can be tucked under is “On Competence and Revisiting Professional Values: Is the Quality of Professional Practice (Skills, Principles, Philosophies, Etc.) Poor?”
One may presume media corruption was included in that ponderous and scholarly title, maybe under “competence” and “values.” A journalist can hardly be competent if dishonest and should have poor values if corrupt.
The other topics dealt with reexamination of news in a democracy, economic rights violations, the new technology, and how newspapers are surviving in the digital age.
With the horde of problems brought about by the new age, the much-flogged problem of media corruption, which community newspapers and those who profess concern for their improvement must have swept under the rug, is like to stay there.
Apparently, it is best left entirely to each media outlet to cope with, in the confines of the newsroom, an in-house scourge which must not see public light.
PPI leaders must have realized that media corruption is an aspect about the watchdog that no one else can watch but the particular watchdog concerned.
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