Two marginally related things that, taken together, paint a rather bleak picture of the Philippine media landscape this week.
Have you heard the latest on the dispute between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its former labor union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA)?
We have not either. What we have heard is PAL crying harassment over the labor union camping out at its in-flight center (whatever that is). And how could we have not? They said so on Facebook:
And on Philippine Star:
And on People’s Journal:
And the Manila Standard Today:
Now, it’s not unusual for newspapers to print press releases in toto. That’s where the lifestyle and entertainment sections get 75% of their content. But the PAL-PALEA dispute is not a new brand of lotion or a new clothing line for SM department store and deserves better treatment.
At the very least, these newspapers should have clearly labelled these stories as PR. The stories make it look like the papers are reporting what PAL said, but they don’t disclose that the story itself came from PAL. That means these stories come with whatever authority, integrity, and impartiality that these newspapers claim. (To be fair, nobody claims impartiality anymore)
They should have at least put PALEA’s protests in context, or at least explained how exactly those protests constitute harassment. They should at least have talked to PALEA for a reaction. They’re not that hard to find since they’re camped out at the in-flight center and presumably planning further acts of harassment. It was a long weekend of slow news days.
No jokes today, these papers are enough of a punchline as it is.
In 1969, US and South Vietnamese troops captured Hill 937 in Thua Thien Province, Vietnam after 10 days of bitter fighting. The hill was later called “Hamburger Hill” because of the high casualties from 10 assaults on the hill. The US and South Vietnam lost 72, the Vietnamese People’s Army reportedly lost 675.
Now, Manila broadsheet Burger Times has lost less than that but you have to wonder at the rate they go through reporters. Their reporters, arguably among the best and most hard-working in the industry, have been leaving in droves in the past couple of years.
It has gotten so bad at one beat that they don’t even bother updating the entry for Burger Times on their list of accredited media outfits anymore. Now, we hear they may lose around 10 more, a loss that would wipe out other smaller newspapers. Before the year ends, they will already have lost four reporters.
And that’s probably par for the course. Journalism isn’t for everyone, and it’s a cut-throat business where it’s sink or swim from Day One. Maybe they’re losing reporters who were never meant to be reporters in the first place.
Except the reporters they’ve lost have ended up reporters somewhere else: other national papers, the outsourcing office of a in international financial newspaper, a community paper in Hong Kong, that sort of thing.
Because of the small community that people in newspapers move around in, everybody else who has had a byline knows about the demanding desk at Burger Times and very few will wager their jobs for a chance to work there.
So Burger Times hires fresh graduates and sends them out to dash themselves against the rocks, basically. And when these fresh graduates–some of whom did not even go to journalism school–fail, they get pounced on by the Burger Times desk for not knowing how to do their jobs, which they would probably learn to do eventually if the desk stopped hovering over them like helicopter moms with cruel hearts.
Anyway, here’s to the ones that didn’t make it.
Most of the praise deservedly went to Goldie Hawn, whom the New York Times called “totally charming as the bemused suburban princess who forsakes a house with a live-in maid, her membership in the country club…to find life’s meaning in the service.”
Wait, what? Praybeyt Benjamin stars comedian Vice Ganda and it’s about a gay man who enters the Army “when the country is besieged by terrorists and goes under a civil war“? It’s a totally different film then.
Now, I’m not saying Star Cinema or Viva Films stole the idea for “Praybeyt Benjamin.” Clearly, these are two different films made more than 20 years apart and the country does not go “under civil war” in the original movie. But the movies have the same basic premise, and basically the same title.
Which, really, boggles the mind. Most of the people who have watched and will watch Praybeyt Benjamin (reviewers included) will not have heard of the original movie, so there is no name recall to boost sales.
There is also none of the cleverish punning in local films that copy foreign films. (Consider, for example Dolphy’s Tataynic to ride on the popularity of Titanic, and Wanted: Perfect Mother as a spoof of Wanted: Perfect Murder by way of Mrs. Doubtfire.)
Star Cinema/Viva Films could have called it anything else and it still would have sold tickets, brought laughs, and gotten rave reviews.
Is it director Wenn Deramas’s homage to the original Goldie Hawn film? If so, was this mentioned at all in press conferences and publicity tours for Praybeyt Benjamin? A quick Google search suggests it was not and it certainly was not mentioned by reviewers.
Surely, there is a reasonable and logical explanation for this but I’m sticking with laziness until proven otherwise.
*“Goldie Hawn is Private Benjamin” was the last line of the trailer for the 1980 movie.
[EDIT: This website is not the first to find similarities between the Goldie Hawn film and this one, and this is probably old news to a lot of people. But not to you, Indolent reader!]
People of the press love raffles, and why not?
We may never become the people we cover, but at least there’s a way for us to (arguably) legitimately get some of their spoils. The rationale/justification being it’s not a pay off if everyone has an equal chance at winning. And given how much we make, even just a goody bag stuffed with imported chocolates is pretty rich stuff.
And that is why a reporter for Monthly Magazine* was pissed off at an anniversary party for a regional airline. At the end of the party, the airline raffled off an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Bangkok** as a grand prize.
The douche bag emcee hosting the party, and reportedly sleeping with the a top executive of that airline, picked the winning entry out of a hat (we assume) and said:
“And the winner is, from Monthly Magazine…
…Emcee’s Random Friend who does not work for Monthly Magazine!”
Cue feigned surprise (or actual surprise for the hack of a broadsheet known for its gripping and comprehensive coverage of job vacancies and second-hand cars who suddenly found out she worked at Monthly Magazine) and the hateful death stares of every other reporter, advertising executive, and decent human being at the hotel where the party was held.
Sources say the douche bag emcee does this all the time, doling out raffle prizes and other swag to members of his media mafia, whom we shall call Team Yuck. Members of the team lap it up, of course, and treat the douche bag emcee like he’s some sort of Supremo or whatever.
Team Yuck’s fawning and their ability to say “fuck you” to both the art of writing and to integrity gets them more gifts, strings, and stints with up-market magazines and newspaper sections.
There is, after all, nobody better fed than a well-behaved and obedient dog.
*Not, obviously, the actual title of the magazine because that would just be lazy.
** Actually, its proper name is Krungthep Maha Nakorn, Amarn Rattanakosindra, Mahindrayudhya, Mahadilokpop Noparatana Rajdhani Mahasathan, Amorn Piman Avatarn Satit, Sakkatultiya Vishnukarn Prasit.
Here’s a nice reversal on things.
Sectoral group Bayan Muna filed a plunder case against Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday over the failed ZTE National Broadband Network deal. Reporters scrambled to cover it and got the story.
Here is a sidebar to the whole thing:
While this was going on, politician sent out a text message to reporters on different beats. His subtle message? “XXX can be asked for comments on the sixth plunder complaint against ex-PGMA.” While some politicians would have been content with releasing a written statement to the press, this one wanted to be interviewed even though nobody was asking.
Our baby mouse tells us that journalists who took the bait and called him up to ask questions were then told (politely) to wait because the politician was busy.
Although he is new in politics and cannot be expected to know how to deal with the press yet, he will gave to learn quickly or never have to deal with the press again.
A clue: Like his once prominent father, this politician can be referred to by his initials, one of which is J. His father used to be influential but the family’s fortunes have taken a turn since a falling out with Malacanang.
Indolent Indio has received reports from an unimpeachable source (which is to say, he cannot be impeached even by 2/3 vote of the House of Representatives) that money is flooding into the media in anticipation of the impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in May.
Our source says payoffs go up to as much as P50,000 for one guy who does blind items. Payoffs are significantly smaller for guys who don’t do blind items, or are less famous than this famous guy who does blind items.
We cannot prove this but they’re supposedly being paid to launch black propaganda campaigns against Senators Franklin Drilon and Jinggoy Estrada.
“Marami ang yayaman, abangan mo (A lot of people will get rich,watch for it),” our source said.
Consider this gem, for example:
Now, we get that saying that a member of the cabinet sucks cocks is probably libelous. The paragraph asks more questions than it answers, though. Most nagging of which are: What was he blowing on? Were they penises? Or just things that looked like penises? Were they hotdogs? I mean, that’s a pretty easy call to make, GMANews.tv.
(Thx, Gibo Teodoro!)
In 2002, GMA-7 relaunched itself as the Kapuso (roughly, “of the same heart”) network and started calling their talents and consumers kapuso. In 2003, ABS-CBN followed suit with their Kapamilya (roughly, “of the same family”).
Other stations and media outlets soon became ka-bandwagon and started calling their viewers and listeners kabarkada (“of the same gang”), kasambahay (“of the same household”) and kabagang (“of the same…you know what? They probably just made that up”).