Two marginally related things that, taken together, paint a rather bleak picture of the Philippine media landscape this week.
Here is something you don’t see every day: a major news website’s public apology for getting a story wrong.
Surprisingly, the apology was not for offending society with a jokey caption but for attributing a statement to a militant women’s group which immediately denied the statement and raised heck (sub-hell levels) on the Internet.
It was a basic violation of an unwritten rule of journalism–never assuming something unless stated directly–and we hope that the people who worked on the story were taken out back and promptly shot, or at least told to review their Philo 11. In any case, we hope they took their lumps.
Here is something that you actually do see every day, and anytime two or more are gathered in the name of calling other people names: a cute little media critique in the Manila Times by Katrina Stuart Santiago, scoring news websites Rappler and GMA News Online for destroying the fine tradition of Philippine journalism, a tradition that she is part of by virtue of writing opinion columns, which is not quite the same thing and is, if you look at the quality of opinion columnists we have now, hardly a virtue. read more
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.
It’s boys versus girls at one major news beat, an anonymous source tells us.
The conflict apparently started at a sponsored excursion (which is what people used to call junkets in the 1980s) where tequila (which people used to drink in the 1990s) and hormones combined in a cocktail of conflict.
To keep things wholesome, guys were billeted together in one room, and girls were supposed to sleep in another room. Reporters being a drunken and unwholesome lot, one guy reporter ended up sleeping in the girls’ room after they asked him to hang out for a while.
This, apparently, did not fly with the other guy reporters because a. ancient laws of propriety were broken, b. they wanted to hang out with the girl reporters too, c. they said that reporter was just faking drunkenness to sleep in the girls’ room. Not to, you know, get laid or anything like that. Just to get to hang out with girls. Which, I don’t know, should only piss you off for not thinking of it first.
So, the guys got pissed off at drunken reporter guy for being better at chicks (and being less married) than they were, and at the girls for falling for it, I guess.
The conflict has reportedly resulted in snide remarks being thrown around, passive-aggressive status messages on Facebook and other social media, and an actual shouting match between a hotshot guy reporter and a girl reporter, both from major broadsheets.
Another source says the conflict has even reached the people these reporters are supposed to be covering. They have been asking reporters about the conflict, possibly because they think they have the monopoly on petty word wars and easily-offended pride.
One one hand, it’s nice to know that the media has been practicing self regulation and respects family values. On the other hand, it’s sad that that self regulation is on something as silly as this.
From what sources have been telling Indolent Indio, being on the take is okay as long as you don’t act like you’re a chick magnet.