deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

GMA Kapuso

I had a chance to view news reports on GMA's interview with Mike Enriquez over DZBB and i found myself agreeing with her thoughts on responsible journalism. But when the talk ventured into the difference between responsible and "seditious" journalism, my mind put on its "BS" brakes (whatthefeff!) i wont go anymore into a diatribe on the supposed difference between responsible and "seditious" journalism because there really is no conflict there. its more like comparing apples and orranges. responsible journalism is just that, its neither seditious or "unseditious," much like the fact that there is no "good" news or "bad" news. its all how we take the news. and of course, who is the President, or anybody in government for that matter, to judge what is responsible and what is seditious? its the public who will be the judge of that. media is the public's watchdog of government. for government to start complaining, railing and ranting about how supposedly "unfair" media is and actually start doing something about it like harrassing and muzzling media, is dangerous to press freedom. sure, media has its own problems like ethics, etc. but that is for media to resolve, and its being resolved. if a media entity is unable to do just this, it will have to be answerable to the market. if government has problems with how media conducts itself, then it should take a long hard look at the policies it is implementing, rather than shoot the messenger. if government thinks media is beginning to buck too much like a wild horse, it should realize that media is also searching for answers to the more essential problems plaguing our country today. two words here: Hello Garci! media is bucking because the government is being fudgy. anyway, the topic of the DZBB-GMA thing came up during a recent meeting with Carlos Conde and Vergel Santos, whose book I am enjoying immensely at present, at a recent forum. We agreed that Enriquez should have been more circumspect about how to respond to GMA's diatribe against GMA-7's rival ABS-CBN. I posited that Mikey-baby should have answered "Ma'am, di lang po kami ang responsible. ABS din naman ha, pati na rin Inquirer, ABC-5, PCIJ, etc." Mr. Santos said Mike E. could have come up smelling like roses then to the whole of media. i understand if it was difficult to slip anything in, knowing how GMA or any agressive source for that matter, can bulldooze you into a corner with her arguments to the point of submission. but i felt Mike could have slipped one in, like a Pacquiao punch coming out of nowhere. broadcasters can be so good at that. it was also classic Sun Tzu, divide and conquer. and i agree with Ma'am Chuchay, pitting one network over the other demeans the office of the presidency. of course, i didn't expect GMA would carry herself in the highest standards that the office demands, as we have all already seen. my point is, it was an occassion for Mike to defend the whole of Philippine media now that it is under attack from the Palace. And to show her that media is standing united, that its now no longer about rivalries, ratings and circulation. its about press freedom and the media's role. right there are then, Mike got muzzled by the President sitting right in front of him. she didn't even have to touch him. talagang naloko na!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Top 100 Journalism Works

in case i lose the list. i forgot who came up with it. 1. John Hersey -- "Hiroshima" Publisher -- New Yorker 2. Rachel Carson -- "Silent Spring" Publisher -- Book 3. Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein Title or subject -- Investigation of the Watergate break in Publisher -- Washington Post 4. Edward R. Murrow Title or subject -- Battle of Britain Publisher -- CBS radio 5. Ida Tarbell Title or subject -- "The History of the Standard Oil Company" Publisher -- McClure's magazine 6. Lincoln Steffens Title or subject -- "The Shame of the Cities" Publisher -- McClure's 7. John Reed Title or subject -- "Ten Days That Shook the World" Publisher -- Book 8. H. L. Mencken Title or subject -- Scopes "monkey" trial Publisher -- Baltimore Sun 9. Ernie Pyle Title or subject -- Reports from Europe and the Pacific during World War II Publisher -- Scripps-Howard newspapers 10. Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly Title or subject -- Investigation of Sen. Joseph McCarthy Publisher -- CBS (pg. C1) 11. Edward R. Murrow, David Lowe and Fred Friendly. CBS Reports television documentary "Harvest of Shame." 1960 12. Seymour Hersh. Investigation of massacre committed by American soldiers at My Lai in Vietnam. For Dispatch News Service. 1969 13. The New York Times. Publication of the Pentagon Papers. 1971 14. James Agee and Walker Evans. "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." Book. 1941 15. W. E. B. DuBois. "The Souls of Black Folk." Collected articles. 1903 16. I. F. Stone. I.F. Stone's Weekly. 1953-67 17. Henry Hampton. "Eyes on the Prize." Documentary. 1987 18. Tom Wolfe. "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." Book. 1968 19. Norman Mailer. "The Armies of the Night." Book. 1968 20. Hannah Arendt. "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil." Collected articles. 1963 21. William Shirer. "Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1939-1941." Collected articles. 1941 22. Truman Capote. "In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences." Book. 1965 23. Joan Didion. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem." Collected articles. 1968 24. Tom Wolfe. "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby." Collected articles. 1965 25. Michael Herr. "Dispatches." Book. 1977 26. Theodore White. "The Making of the President: 1960." Book. 1961 27. Robert Capa. Ten photographs from D-Day. 1944 28. J. Anthony Lukas. "Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families." Book. 1985 29. Richard Harding Davis. Coverage of German march into Belgium. For the Wheeler Syndicate and magazines. 1914 30. Dorothy Thompson. Reports on the rise of Hitler in Cosmopolitan and Saturday Evening Post. 1931-34 31. John Steinbeck. Reports on Okie migrant camp life for The San Francisco News. 1936 32. A. J. Liebling. "The Road Back to Paris." Collected articles. 1944 33. Ernest Hemingway. Reports on the Spanish Civil War in The New Republic. 1937-38 34. Martha Gellhorn. "The Face of War." Collected articles. 1959 35. James Baldwin. "The Fire Next Time." Book. 1963 36. Joseph Mitchell. "Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories." Collection of much older articles. 1992 37. Betty Friedan. "The Feminine Mystique." Book. 1963 38. Ralph Nader. "Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile." Book. 1965 39. Herblock (Herbert Block). Cartoons on "McCarthyism." In The Washington Post. 1950 40. James Baldwin. "Letter from the South: Nobody Knows My Name." In The Partisan Review. 1959 41. Huynh Cong Ut. Photograph of a burning girl running from a napalm attack. For The Associated Press. 1972 42. Pauline Kael. "Trash, Art, and the Movies." In Harper's. 1969 43. Gay Talese. "Fame and Obscurity: Portraits by Gay Talese." Collected articles. 1970 44. Randy Shilts. Reports on AIDS for The San Francisco Chronicle. 1981-85 45. Janet Flanner (Genet). "Paris Journals" chronicling Paris's emergence from the Occupation. In The New Yorker. 1944-45 46. Neil Sheehan. "A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam." Book. 1988 47. A. J. Liebling. "The Wayward Pressman." Collected articles. 1947 48. Tom Wolfe. "The Right Stuff." Book. 1979 49. Murray Kempton. "America Comes of Middle Age: Columns 1950-1962." Collected articles. 1963 50. Murray Kempton. "Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties." Book. 1955 51. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. "America: What Went Wrong?" Series in The Philadelphia Inquirer. 1991 52. Taylor Branch. "Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63." Book. 1988 53. Harrison Salisbury. Reporting from the Soviet Union for The New York Times. 1949- 54. John McPhee. "The John McPhee Reader." Collected articles. 1976 55. ABC. Live television broadcast of Army-McCarthy hearings. 1954 56. Frederick Wiseman. "Titicut Follies." Documentary. 1967 57. David Remnick. "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire." Book. 1993 58. Richard Ben Cramer. "What It Takes: The Way to the White House." Book. 1992 59. Jonathan Schell. "The Fate of the Earth." Book. 1982 60. Russell Baker. "Francs and Beans." In The New York Times. 1975 61. Homer Bigart. Account of being over Japan in a bomber when World War II came to an end. In The New York Herald-Tribune. 1945 62. Ben Hecht. "1,001 Afternoons in Chicago." Collected articles. 1922 63. Walter Cronkite. CBS television documentary on Vietnam. 1968 64. Walter Lippmann. Early essays for The New Republic. 1914 65. Margaret Bourke-White. Photographs following the defeat of Germany. For Life magazine. 1945 66. Lillian Ross. "Reporting." Collected articles. 1964 67. Nicholas Lemann. "The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America." Book. 1991 68. Joe Rosenthal. Photograph of Marines raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. For The Associated Press. 1945 69. Hodding Carter Jr. "Go for Broke." Editorial in Carter's Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Miss.). 1945 70. The New Yorker. "The New Yorker Book of War Pieces." Collected articles. 1947 71. Meyer Berger. Report on the murderer Howard Unruh. In The New York Times. 1949 72. Norman Mailer. "The Executioner's Song." Book. 1979 73. Robert Capa. Spanish Civil War photos for Life. 1936 74. Susan Sontag. Notes on 'Camp. In The Partisan Review. 1964 75. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. "All the President's Men." Book. 1974 76. John Hersey. "Here To Stay." Collected articles. 1963 77. A. J. Liebling. "The Earl of Louisiana." Book. 1961 78. Mike Davis. "City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles." Book. 1990 79. Melissa Fay Greene. "Praying for Sheetrock." Book. 1991 80. J. Anthony Lukas. "The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick." In The New York Times. 1967 81. Herbert Bayard Swope. "Klan Exposed." In The New York World. 1921 82. William Allen White. "To an Anxious Friend." In The Emporia (Kan.) Gazette. 1922 83. Edward R. Murrow. Report of the liberation of Buchenwald for CBS radio. 1945 84. Joseph Mitchell. "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon." Collected articles. 1943 85. Lillian Ross. "Picture." Book. 1952 86. Earl Brown. Series of articles on race for Harper's and Life magazines. 1942-44 87. Greil Marcus. "Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music." Book. 1975 88. Morley Safer. Report for CBS television on atrocities committed by American soldiers on the hamlet of Cam Ne in Vietnam. 1965 89. Ted Poston. Coverage of the "Little Scottsboro" trial. In The New York Post. 1949 90. Leon Dash. "Rosa Lee's Story." Series in The Washington Post. 1994 91. Jane Kramer. "Europeans." Collected articles. 1988 92. Eddie Adams and Vo Suu. Associated Press photograph and NBC television footage of a Saigon execution. 1968 93. Grantland Rice. "Notre Dame's 'Four Horsemen'." In The New York Herald-Tribune. 1924 94. Jane Kramer. "The Politics of Memory: Looking for Germany in the New Germany." Collected articles. 1996 95. Frank McCourt. "Angela's Ashes." Book. 1996 96. Vincent Sheean. "Personal History." Book. 1935 97. W. E. B. DuBois. Columns on race during his tenure as editor of The Crisis. 1910-34 98. Damon Runyon. Crime reporting in The New York American. 1926 99. Joe McGinniss. "The Selling of the President 1968." Book. 1969 100. Hunter S. Thompson. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail." Book. 1973

Saturday, March 11, 2006

restiveness in the ranks

our exclusive story today on what really happened to the "coup" last Feb. 23 seems to me the closest narration of what really happened. it was actually a plan to withdraw support for the GMA government. but whether or not it was just simply that, it is still unclear. for example, i am convinced that Gen. Lim and Col. Querubin went to see Gen. Senga and managed to convince him to withdraw support for the government. i am not convinced though that service commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force knew about the plan. It is said Gen. Esperon was supposed to have changed his mind, which later led to the whole plan being aborted. Note here that Esperon was one of the four generals mentioned by Garci. If the plan did push through, i dont know what i would feel when i see him actually withdrawing support for GMA. I also know that Esperon himself is entertaining thoughts of becoming Chief of Staff. for all i know, he was just choosing the horse he would be betting on carefully. Speaking about Esperon, he seems to be conspicuously active in appearing before media in the past few days. He broke the story of the supposed alliance between the Reds and other soldiers. He also broke the story on other soldiers under investigation. The question begs: where is Senga and why has he been a little more quiet for comfort? Also, I am not buying the whole spin on the alliance between the Reds and Magdalo. as a reporter covering the defense beat for awhile, i would think idealistic soldiers would never enter an agreement with their enemy no matter how desperate the situation has become. I heard Commodore Robles today say as long as there is corruption in the military, the soldiers in the barracks will always be restive. I agree, the issue is not merely the involvement of generals in election fraud. that is just the start of it all, a drop in the bucket. the military leadership must address this, but also corruption in the military. or else, the military will forever be afraid of its own shadow.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

middle class blah

i just finished going over the site of this guy who wrote one of the open letters expressing disgust for Cory, the opposition, media, etc...and i was just about to ready to throw up! i hope the middle class has not made it a habit to blame the messenger, rather than focusing on the message, so to speak. Why blame them when it should be the Palace we should be blaming? beats me. is that how mindless the middle class has become? they don't agree with Cory, et al.? then its time for them to stand up and be counted! rather than cower in their comfortable shadows. and no, i dont think the rest of the public will forget the sins of Cory, et al. however, i respect the right of this guy (as well as those who think just like him) to say what he said.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

middle class angst, democracy and clean elections

Internet forums, blogs and email have been flooded recently with a host of various statements/emails purportedly from unidentified members of the middle class who claim they don’t like GMA but that the opposition offers no viable alternative. They conclude with that we should live and let live and move on (barf!) It seems that these emails are striking some chord in the otherwise dormant middle class as many observe they find some grain of truth in them. Now that is sad, really sad. I consider myself a member of the lower middleclass, slaving a way at a job, struggling to make ends meet, etc. but I find nothing true in the statements. Everyone has a say on what they think is good for the country, no one has a monopoly there. On the other hand, I agree with some of the points. The prospects don’t look too good if we were to consider who will replace GMA. But does that mean we should just let GMA be and let her sit in Malacanang with the questions about her legitimacy, the fertilizer fund, the Hello Garci tapes still hanging? I don’t think so. I think we have to kick out any President who has these questions over his or her head and bring in the Vice President, no matter how inept we think he is because that what the Constitution says. If the replacement also screws up, replace again, and so on. I think we have to keep at it, keep doing this until we get the whole thing right!! Because I believe we are not going to mature as a democracy if we keep letting crooks sit in the Palace. The statement writers said we have already gone through an impeachment process as part of due process. Agreed, but let’s not forget the process was quashed by the President’s allies in the House. So how now the search for truth? It was a battle of numbers? Fine, but what about the search for the truth of what really happened in the last elections? Sadly, the truth has become a casualty in politics, as usual. And who can we blame here, the congressmen? Maybe us the voters who put these imbeciles there. Nothing has been presented to prove BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT that GMA cheated in the last elections, one forum member observed. But to prove someone committed a crime beyond reasonable doubt is something for the courts to decide. And that's only applicable in a criminal case. Otherwise, I will insist that everyone can have their own assumptions and opinions on the matter. If it was proven that Gloria DID NOT cheat in the last elections, I would have accepted that. But they did not even embark in the first step to go about ferreting out the truth. The more truth the does not come out, the more chaotic our country will be. A bishop said today that it would seem the government has neglected the call of the CBCP to get to the truth of the Garci scandal. Sad. Some have argued that media is to blame for the controversies surrounding the President. Balderdash, if you ask me. We all have the logic, reason and faculties to distinguish fact and fiction, no matter what the biased media presents us. If we don’t like what we hear, see or read, we can just put down that newspaper and shut our TV and radio sets. Media only reflects our reality whether good or bad. The government and the people must give media a better reality, or else, it will just be "bad" news all the time. (I hesitate to use "good" or "bad" labels, but this is another argument). We keep blaming media, GMA, the opposition, etc. when really, we should be blaming OURSELVES, each and every single one of us who does or does not pay taxes correctly. We deserve the government we get because we can be so darned APATHETIC about things. Like I said, I’d like to think I am like most members of the middle class who are salaried workers working and struggling to make an honest living. But does that mean we should be silent about the things going on around us? I don’t think so. Definitely, we should demand more from our leaders. Then and only then will the quality of our leaders get better over time and no matter how long this will take. That's the essence of democracy, participation of the people. Democracy is about power to the people. It’s about the people giving this power freely to a leader who will represent their best interests and when this leader stops representing the people's interest anymore, then the people can demand for her resignation. Privately, I have said that one solid way the Philippines can grow as a democracy is to institute clean elections. It’s time to say goodbye to decades of cheating in our polls. I remember the lecture of a Ramon Magsaysay awardee on how he and his group managed to clean elections in Pakistan (or was that India?). They bought counting machines the size of a fax machine which shortened the election period to just a few days. Now why can’t we do the same? We can’t expect government anymore to institute clean elections because it uses it to propagate the rule of the elite. But I think this is where we should all start.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

the death of neutrality

No, this is not going to be a philosophical treatise on the subject. I’m a little too tired right now to go into that, maybe later. This is just in reaction to a short interview I saw on TV of one of the senior reporters-turned-deskman of the competition. She was reacting to the media crackdown after the declaration of a state of national emergency. She actually said media should just do their job (sounds good here) and be neutral (bleh! Barf!) and objective (triple bleh! Barf!). My first thought was “omigod that is soooooo old school!” Second thought: what kind of values is she and her comment going to impart on the students of journalism, if there are any (I heard most students in UP journalism don’t even want to be in news!). Third, I’m sure glad she’s with the competition and not in my paper. I have always told the trainees (practicum people from journalism schools incl. UP) that to be a reporter, you must first be firm with your beliefs of the world. If you have no concept of the world, then how can you write about it? Also, that you must have an advocacy somehow, that your writing must have a purpose. It must strive to uplift the lives of the majority, make this country a better place, punish wrongdoing, whatever, as long as there is a mission there somehow. Because if you writing from a neutral perspective, if while you are writing you try to be “objective” more than anything else, THEN WHY WRITE? You are just wasting your time, wasting ink and paper, and wasting a chance to make a difference. Take a position, for crying out loud! How can one be objective if at all? Does it mean we have to detach ourselves from what we see around us even if this means detachment from poverty, corruption and just plain bad government? That is totally idiotic, not to mention unattainable. So our writing must blaze with some degree or form of righteous indignation of the wrongs around us. But it must also adhere to standards of fairness, accuracy and balance, not to mention good grammar. Nonetheless, get it out there for the entire world, or at least your editors first, to see. Or else, we should just pick another profession.

telling it to the Marines

Last Monday night, GMA Reporter Raffy Tima showed me a text joke circulating. It said it took four hours for the Marines to define the word “relieve.” I didn’t find that the least bit funny. I’ve had the occasion to interview Col. Querubin and I found him to be a straight-up Marine who obviously cares about the Corps and his country. I agree, the guy is virtually a legend. Winning a Medal of Valor is nothing to sneeze at, as there are only a total of 19 given so far. He commands the respect of the battle-hardened Marines, and not only those under him. He almost died in the 1989 coup, so I get the feeling this is his second life. People who feel that way tend to have firmer principles and are bound stick out for them in any given situation. They are more likely to lay it all down and go all in, as poker players would say. Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda is no less different. He speaks his mind and doesn’t seem to care what people will say. Like Querubin, he loves the Corps and has the toughness to rally his men around him. I have no doubt in my mind both men are soldiers of the highest degree and are probably two of the most principled soldiers I have met so far. Add Gen. Gudani to this list. All these thoughts are running through my head as I still try to figure out what happened last Sunday inside the Marines headquarters. I remember what a lawyer-friend told me, it seemed the Marines didn’t have it in them to finally launch a fatal blow to the government and unseat The Short One from Malacanang. As I have intimated to friends, I was sure last Sunday was the beginning of the end somehow. So what happened? Was it just a matter of the Marines just sticking together and deciding to stay in their barracks rather than start shooting in the streets? Was this a tactical withdrawal? Could be a little of all. I am convinced Miranda was sacked and he didn’t feel very happy about it. But why was Miranda sacked? Does it have anything to do with the planned march on Feb. 23 or is it just a result of the internal wrangling and politics inside the armed forces? He said he was making a sacrifice for the Corps, but for what and why? Could all of this the result of one faction in the AFP prevailing over the other not to move? What’s the status, dynamics and alignments of these factions? I could be that the Filipino soldier is misreading the situation. In Edsa 1, citizens came out to protect the mutineers. That succeeded. In the 1989 coup, a full-blown military encounter is quashed. So now, they are probably thinking let’s go back to the strategy of Edsa 1. But events of recent days revealed that they can fail with that now. If they are thinking they should revert back to the old-fashioned coup strategy, the thought of shooting in the streets gives me the chills mainly because, they might now have the numbers already to win. So where does that leave the armed forces now? Obviously, rancor in the ranks exists. There’s corruption, there’s the involvement of four generals in election fraud. For the government to deny this would be foolish on their part. The military leadership must move swiftly show the public, and specifically the lowly private, that it is serious in weeding out wrongdoers in uniform. They can start with coming out with the results of a credible investigation in the involvement of four generals in election fraud. Incidentally, two of these generals have been promoted to important positions. Biazon has already revealed that Gen. Lim and Querubin approached him and asked that the four generals be investigated. The Senate has done that, but when will it be the turn of the military leadership? If they cannot do this, or are stifled by their commander-in-chief, then the military leadership must finally decide which side they are on. Or they can stay in their barracks and wait and watch as the country, and their very own armed forces, sink deeper into the quagmire. The last is obviously the easier choice. But who said change was supposed to be easy?