Journ Classroom

March 17, 2009

Journalists on Facebook

Filed under: Journalism ethics — Luz Rimban @ 8:33 am
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Filipinos are so addicted to social networking our country has been called the “Friendster capital of the world” orfacebook1 the “social networking capital of the world.”

In its Power to the People Wave 3 Report, Universal McCann found that of all countries in the world, the Philippines has the most number of Internet users belonging to a social network, whether Friendster, Multiply, Facebook or what have you. The top five countries are: the Philippines (83.1%), Hungary (79.9%), Poland (76.8%), Mexico (76.3%), and Brazil (75.6%).

Journalists figure prominently among social networkers. They attract many friends and contacts on these sites. But an article in the Society of Professional Journalists’ website raises the question: Should journalists connect with sources on Facebook, or other social networking sites? Should they be friends, even on a virtual level, with people they cover?

Here’s the article  “Facebook blurs the lines of friendship” by Andy Schotz in the SPJ site.

I’m stuck on the word “friend.” Friends get together to see movies, talk about their families, maybe swap secrets.

The people we cover should not be our friends. If they are, we shouldn’t cover them.

Sixteen years ago, my closest friend, Melissa Hale-Spencer, with whom I worked at a weekly newspaper in upstate New York, wrote a piece that stuck with me.

She was covering the startling bankruptcy of a popular auctioneer whose downfall was vigorously, blindly denied by his many supporters — people who were snookered and lost a lot of money through him.

Melissa had written a profile of the auctioneer and had been to his auctions. It was a grim, difficult demise for her to document.

When she said hello in a court hallway, the defiant auctioneer wouldn’t respond. “You aren’t anybody’s friend,” he told her.

She agreed, and later expanded on her role in a prize-winning column. (Read the full SPJ article.)


April 28, 2008

A Class of Cum Laudes -2

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 9:30 am

I’m sure many of those who received honors from UP deserved it.

Among them are UP Journalism graduates Jessica Hermosa and Johanna Sisante, whose thesis was named the best produced by the Class of 2008 of the College of Mass Communication (CMC). Their thesis was titled “Seat of Power: An Investigative Study on the Legislative Motives of the Authors of the Biofuels Act of 2006.” Their thesis adviser was Prof. Yvonne Chua.

The thesis was published as a two-part investigative report by Vera Files, an online publication that produces in-depth articles on various issues.

A Class of Cum Laudes

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 7:24 am

The emcee at the graduation yesterday of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Class of 2008 said something that’s a bit disturbing: some 30 percent of the UP Diliman graduates were honor students. This means that one in three is a cum laude, a magna cum laude or a summa cum laude.

Either the Class of 2008, the Centennial batch, is extremely gifted, or UP teachers have become more lenient and their standards have dropped.

Maintaining UP’s high standards is important if it wishes to remain the country’s premier academic institution. But UP graduates aren’t the best anymore. (My son, who worked at the human resources department of a tech company in Makati, talks about UP graduates who are rejected because they couldn’t pass company exams or couldn’t converse comfortably and confidently in English).

How sad. Aside from the fact that standards have fallen, morals too are loosening. Knowing what is right and what is wrong is something a UP graduate should know, but there are indications UP is producing graduates who don’t, going by what was heard during the 2008 Recognition Rites of the National College of Public Administration Governance.

April 26, 2008

A sad day for UP

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 5:13 pm
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It was dusk. The graduation ceremony at the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) was coming to a close. The commencement speaker had said his piece, each of the graduates had been called to the stage, the Chorale had sung, and the cream of the undergraduate and masteral classes had given their responses.

Now it was time to hear from the graduate who had just finished her Ph.D.

She prefaced her speech by asking everyone to applaud her, since unlike her younger counterparts graduating with Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, she said, no one had given any expression of approval or acknowledgment of her feat, obtaining the highest degree the institution could give: a doctorate in public administration.

The audience indulged her by clapping, but she didn’t seem satisfied. What she said next stunned some in the audience.

“Palakpakan n’yo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng exemption sa number coding ng MMDA (Applaud me and I will exempt you from MMDA’s number coding scheme)!” blurted Dr Corazon Cruz, Assistant General Manager of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), one of NCPAG’s newest Doctors of Philosophy in Public Administration. As everyone in the audience knows, the MMDA is the agency of government enforcing traffic rules and regulations in Metro Manila, including the number coding scheme that mandates vehicles to stay off the road one day a week depending on the number their license plates ends in.

It sounded amusing and people did chuckle. But the implications of what Dr Cruz said and did eventually sunk in. Here was a government official who had supposedly spent years of study on public administration, trying to offer the audience the incentive (bribe would be more accurate) of an exemption from MMDA rules in exchange for applause. She was telling people she could break the rules if they did her a favor.

“Palakpakan n’yo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng exemption sa number coding ng MMDA!” sounds frighteningly similar to “Iboto nyo ako at libre kayong lahat sa Philhealth!” or even “Iboto nyo ako at bibigyan ko kayo ng tax exemption!” The line embodies what people dislike about government.

And what is troubling too is that the people before her were not just any audience. They were graduates of the NCPAG, future public servants and leaders of the Philippine bureaucracy. (more…)

April 18, 2008

VERA Files is up

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 4:33 pm

A group of senior journalists have pooled their experience and expertise to form a group called VERA Files, which publishes in-depth reports, feature stories and news articles on various issues.

VERA Files is barely a month old, and if other journalism groups follow what is known as “non-profit journalism,”  VERA Files business model is “no Income Journalism”   VERA Files’ trustees are in it for love of the profession, recognizing the need for in-depth reporting in these troubling times.

November 29, 2007

Trillanes, Lim aftermath: journalists arrested

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 10:32 pm

Not since the darkest days of martial law some 25 years ago have so many media people been arrested in one single swoop and hauled off to prison, treated as though they were ordinary criminals.

The scene at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City after the surrender of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim–ellentordesillas.jpgpolice shoving reporters, photographers and network production staff into buses that would take them to police headquarters in Bicutan–showed the Arroyo government at its most repressive. In full view of television cameras, on primetime live, police and military officials showed neither recognition of nor respect for the ideal of a free press.

Members of the PNP’s Special Action Forces bound the hands of the production staff of ABS-CBN and tried clamping handcuffs on the rest, among them Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya and DJ Yap of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The Inquirer reports that some 50 members of the media were arrested. (The photo at left was taken by Ellen shortly after Lim and Trillanes walked out of the Makati courtroom during a hearing today. The photo appears in Ellen’s blog and is being used here with permission.)

While all this was happening, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was in the ABS-CBN studios being interviewed by Anchor Ted Failon, the interview serving as annotation to the scene that was unfolding. Teodoro spoke in a calm voice, in contrast to the urgency with which Failon and his co-anchor Korina Sanchez were reporting on the journalists’ arrests. After first disclaiming any involvement in the Peninsula affair which was a police operation, Teodoro nevertheless spoke about the arrests as though rounding up journalists was the most natural thing in the world.

The arrests were made, he said, simply “to determine the identities” of the media people. “Certain Magdalo people will pose as so and so,” Teodoro said, referring to the band of rebel soldiers who are the co-accused and supporters of Trillanes and Lim. He talked about the Magdalo as having evil designs and that the police were merely doing their jobs by rounding up the press to sniff out the impostors.

If military and police suspect Magdalo soldiers of trying to pass themselves off as reporters, that’s because it is military SOP to try to blend with the media. They do it all the time. If journalists can be embedded among soldiers during military operations, so can soldiers embed themselves among journalists. (more…)

October 23, 2007

Glorietta Stories: Putting a human face to the news

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 11:03 am

“In extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives,” goes a line from the World War II documentary by Ken Burns simply titled The War.

These are extraordinary times for us Filipinos. And there doesn’t seem to be anything ordinary in the lives of the 11 people who were killed in the bombing (was it a bombing or an accident?) of the Glorietta last Friday.

It’s the fourth day since the tragedy hogged the front page and we’ve been reading since of lives violently cut short, of people who nearly suffered the same fate, and of grieving and unbelieving relatives and friends. I resisted writing about this since so many people have already, until my husband Boyette mentioned that he didn’t want to read the papers anymore.


October 21, 2007

End of Sem

Filed under: general — Luz Rimban @ 9:01 pm

The semester is finally over. Sad to say goodbye to my 24 ADMU and 16 UP students, but relieved to get some breathing space till the next semester begins.

As I was going over more than a month’s work from these young people, I couldn’t help but marvel at the amount of energy and talent they put into their final television reports. Ok, so the video quality is a little bit low, but they persisted and struggled through the technical difficulties of our not-so-professional video facilities and obviously enjoyed doing their little pieces. We didn’t want to the reports to go unseen so we posted the stories on the class blog.

Here’s the report submitted by the group from The Guidon, anchored by Ryan Edward Chua, 2006 Palanca awardee for the Kabataan essay category and the paper’s Inquiry editor. The other group members were Austin Claude Alcantara, Paterno Esmaquel, Ayee Macaraig, Katrina Alvarez and Korinne Banal. They called their program “Stories From The Hill.” Here are Part I and Part II.

And then there was the three-person group with their program,”Reporter’s Homework,” whose executive producer was Karla Mesina, a writer for the Ateneo student publication Matanglawin. The anchors are Peter Imbong and Hazel Velasco. Here are Part I and Part II of “Reporter’s Homework.”

June 21, 2007

Journalist jailed

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 4:54 pm

(Jofelle Tesorio was released around 7 pm, after Judge Maria Theresa Yadao signed the order releasing Tesorio from the Camp Karingal, Quezon City jail.)

How ironic that a day after President Gloria Arroyo asked media to rally to her side, another Filipino journalist is hauled off to jail.


June 7, 2007

Filipino Delivers Harvard Law School Commencement Address

Filed under: News — Luz Rimban @ 12:13 pm

Daly City, California–I picked up a copy of the Filipino weekly publication Philippine News and was pleasantly surprised to read in its front-page story that a Filipino will be delivering the commencement address at the Harvard Law School graduation tomorrow, June 7.

That Filipino is Oscar Barcelona Tan, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law Class of 2005. Tan is an associate of the ACCRA Law Office in Manila who went on study leave to pursue his Master of Laws degree at Harvard.


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