Why journalists should be 'interesting'

Posted at 02/25/14 11:54 AM

MANILA -- Former politician and journalist Teddy Locsin on Monday said the responsibility of a journalist is to make himself "interesting."

"You may have the truth, but if you’re a bore, if you don’t know how to write, if you don’t know how to communicate on TV or on radio, forget it," Locsin told ANC's "Talkback" during its Edsa28 Special.

"So the responsibility is on us to make the public want to hear the stories we know. That’s what the journalist is for; otherwise any Tom, Dick and Harry can do it," he added.

He also shared to the audience, composed of students from different universities in Manila, that journalists "never praise and always criticize."

"Praise... when you’re in power, you don’t need it. You’re there already. The role of media is to always be critical and in being critical, make yourself interesting," he said.

Meanwhile, former columnist Melinda de Jesus said that as a journalist, it is always hard not to speak about what she knows.

"It’s more problematic not to tell the stories that we heard, it really is more difficult not to go with the story you knew had to be heard. For me it was not about courage, or bravery, or whatever. I think every journalist who goes into the business understands that right away," she said.

"The press is the nexus, the connective tissue that holds society together," she added.

Confusion, not information

Vergel Santos, trustee of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, however, said the advent of technology has put a different perspective on journalism.

Media, he said, has substantially contributed in shaping society, but there's a catch.

"Where have the media taken society? Where are we now? You must understand that in 1986, after 14 years of oppression, there was an explosion of media. The media returned with a vengeance, understandably, but even before the media could sober up and settle in some respectable place, Internet came and to an extent confused the whole thing," he said.

According to Santos, the Internet has "just about made everyone who is not yet a journalist, a potential one."

"I mean, this is confusing. Because where before, the media were an organized industry, in fact, operating upon layers and layers of checks, the Internet is not," he lamented.

But Rowena Paraan, chairman of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, said citizen journalism is "actually getting bigger and bigger, much more than what we have expected."

"This just goes to show that citizen journalism, whether you like it or not, whether you agree that ordinary people can do reports or whatever, it’s definitely something that is going to stay," she said.

Jarius Bondoc, columnist of the Philippine Star, agrees, saying the Internet has a bigger audience.

"Write it on the Internet, create a blog, spread the word, and you get a bigger audience," he said. "Internet makes research for investigative journalism easier. You get reliable information in an instant and then you are able to get tips in an instant, and also confirmation."

Santos, however, said there should be more training in that field.

"If you want to harness plain citizens in this endeavor, there should be a bit more training and organization because journalism is a craft, and therefore as a craft there are certain skills that make for this craft," he said.

Locsin, meanwhile, said the beauty of the Internet is knowing that "someone out there knows better."

"Even if the mainstream media may have a bias, someone out there will correct you, and even if you say, ‘oh, who’s gonna read that?’, of course it hurts, and it starts disciplining you," he said.