Anti-Social Media: Impeachment edition

While the cameras were trained on the clash between the two sides on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, there were smaller clashes among the media covering the event.

Which is understandable, really, given the emotionally-charged atmosphere of the whole thing. Tensions are so high, in fact, that journalists–both multimedia and traditional–were quick to see bombs when one of their own left a bag of equipment unattended for several hours.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team of the Pasay City Police had to be brought in and sniffer dogs had to check the bag for explosives. Senate security was not pleased, our correspondent says, because the scare made them look like fools. The radio crew who left their equipment were not too pleased either because they had to go without their equipment, will have to endure ribbing from their colleagues, and have to personally apologize to the Senate President.

Well, at least it gave everyone an excuse to whip out their smart phones and encourage discussion through this new thing called online journalism.

But more explosive is a brewing cat fight between a posse of reporters from a young media outlet and an existing clique of reporters with more experience both in front of the camera and on the beat. It does not help that the new reporters seem to still be undergoing birth pains. Covering an impeachment trial is, after all, not the easiest way to get your feet wet in journalism.

There was a shouting match this week after one of the new reporters, possibly harassed and treading water, pushed a bigger network’s camera aside. She accidentally touched the lens, which is apparently akin to slapping the Pope in the face, and so one of the veteran reporters let her have it (shouting, not the camera). To be fair, the newbie reporter had been hit on the head by a camera earlier that day (and who among us has not?) and she was just trying clear a path while protecting herself.

Another new reporter asked the defense lawyers why they were holding a press conference while the trial was going on. The lawyer, with a booming voice that would make a prosecutor quail, told her matter of factly that they were holding the press conference because the media had asked for one. “I thought we were doing you a favor,” he said as the reporter sank slowly into the plush carpets of the Senate before the Earth swallowed her up.

It was, to be sure, not the smartest question to ask a lawyer who used to be chief of staff to Supreme Court Justice Andres Narvasa. But it did not deserve the derisive laughter and the audible click of hundreds of eyes rolling in their sockets. Every journalist in that room began as a newbie, and the mean girls of the media have had their own share of booboos. It’s even debatable whether some of those in the old guard have learned anything in their many years in journalism.

A glaring example of that may be in this lady reporter with medusa locks who likes to take over press briefings with snide comments from the sidelines. “Give us the list!,” she shouted at the prosecutors from the House of Representatives, who were about to actually give the list of people they were calling as witnesses to the trial.

“It’s on the press release, honey!,” she screamed at a newbie reporter who had not, in fact, received the press release that would have answered her question. At any rate, the question was not addressed to her. With each comment, an ever widening circle as other reporters began cringing away in embarrassment.

We’re not saying that this same reporter has been harassing lawmakers for perks like food for the press office and free rides to and from the Senate. We hear, though, that other people are saying that.

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