Category: CJJ6

Women in the newsroom: From ‘news hen’ to boss

In the 1980s, first year Mass Communication students at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu had the impression that being a woman and a journalist at the same time…

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The Freeman newsroom

In the 1980s, first year Mass Communication students at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu had the impression that being a woman and a journalist at the same time meant covering the “soft” beats of lifestyle and society.

This perception stemmed mainly from being taught print journalism and broadcasting basics by “news hens,” a term denoting veteran female writers and reporters that was still widely used in newspaper articles and class readings.

However, for the students, the tag was a pejorative. It underlined the contrast between the journalistic equivalent of scratching the surface of social realities and the “real” challenge of journalism that the “news hounds,” with their “nose for news,” carried out: cover government and expose wrongdoing. The term “news hound” was exclusively used for male journalists.

Careers would have been misaligned if the students were not assigned to research on “women trailblazers” in pre- and post-war journalism in Cebu. There were only a few women with “a nose for news” then, and all of them had to blaze a trail of their own in the absence of any formal education (also true for the males) and predecessors. Continue Reading

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A walk to remember: 17 years of Cebu Press Freedom Week

By Rebelander S. Basilan It started as a simple activity in 1994. Looking back, journalist-lawyer Pachico Seares said the first Cebu Press Freedom Week (CPFW) featured a fun walk, an…

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By Rebelander S. Basilan

THE EARLY YEARS. From left, Mildred Galarpe, then from The Freeman; Jack Biantan (holding megaphone) and Thea Riñen (holding fan), both then from Sun.Star Daily (since renamed Sun.Star Cebu); and Jane Paredes (holding two children), then from dyRC, join the opening parade during an early celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week.

It started as a simple activity in 1994. Looking back, journalist-lawyer Pachico Seares said the first Cebu Press Freedom Week (CPFW) featured a fun walk, an opening night and a closing night, with one or two forums in between.

The first CPFW, in which less than 50 people participated, was meant to show a unified media that responds to any attempt to suppress its rights.

“It has turned out to be more than that,” Seares said. “It’s a showcase of media unity but it’s also a reservoir of goodwill and fellowship, a place for colleagues and competitors to gather, talk, chill out.”

The beginning of CPFW can be traced back to as early as Sept. 10, 1988, when leaders of media organizations in Cebu formed the Council of Cebu Media Leaders (CCML). Continue Reading

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Stet: Cabal or clique?

It was the mid-1980s and a period of anxiety for several women journalists in Cebu. A list of so-called leftist supporters in media was supposedly being circulated, and in it…

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NO SHRINKING VIOLETS. (Clockwise from left) Then The Freeman reporter Nini Cabaero, TV anchor and reporter Bingo Gonzalez and Sun.Star Daily reporter Edralyn Benedicto speak in a forum during the celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week in the mid-1990s. Lelani Echaves (second from left) hosts Cebu City’s first television public affairs program, “On the Spot,” featuring Brig. Gen. Jesus Hermosa, then commanding general of the Visayas Command, with co-hosts Jane Paredes and Frank Malilong Jr. Stet members (seated from left) Eileen Mangubat, Echaves, Thea Riñen, (standing) Paredes, Melva Java and Benedicto, with Msgr. Achilles Dakay, celebrate New Year’s Eve at the residence of Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, then Archbishop of Cebu. (Contributed Fotos)

It was the mid-1980s and a period of anxiety for several women journalists in Cebu.

A list of so-called leftist supporters in media was supposedly being circulated, and in it were the names of women journalists. We had a lot in common: In our 20s; graduates of journalism programs in the country’s leading universities; energetic; idealistic; and we were women.

We were field reporters who quickly built reputations as serious practitioners. It was a time of political instability following the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., the staging of People Power I, and the shaky start of the Corazon Aquino presidency.

Eileen Mangubat, then Sun.Star Daily reporter and now publisher of Cebu Daily News (CDN); Thea Riñen, Sun.Star reporter and now CDN vice president for advertising, marketing and circulation; Edralyn Benedicto, then Sun.Star reporter and now bureau chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; and I, then reporter of The Freeman and later of Sun.Star and now editor-in-chief of the Sun.Star Network Exchange. We covered the political opposition, local government, the church, labor unions, protesting activists and the underground movement.

Lawyer Jane C. Paredes, then news manager of radio dyRC and now senior manager of Smart Communications Inc.; Nene Parawan, then dyRC reporter; lawyer Bingo Gonzalez, then a television reporter and anchor and now practicing lawyer; Noemi Fetalvero, then of GMA 7 and now columnist of Sun.Star Cebu; and Lelani Echaves-Paredes, host of the local television talk show “On the Spot,” and Melva Java, then GMA 7 news anchor, but both now newspaper columnists, educators, entrepreneurs, and grandmothers.

Misunderstood, threatened

Because we gave voice to the voiceless (which is journalism’s mission), we were misunderstood, mostly by people with small minds.

We were out to do a good or even better job as journalists compared to some of our male counterparts. We exerted effort to get to the truth, resorted to “off the record” sessions with controversial news sources to have a better grasp of issues. But the threat to our safety and sanity was serious.

Then, someone thought of picking a name for the group. Some names were considered until I remembered our department publication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. “Stet” was the newsletter name of the journalism department.

“Stet” is a proofreader’s mark to mean disregard the change and let the original stand. In the age before computers, when editing was done by hand, an editor may change a word but on second thought find the original more apt. To signal to the typesetter to let the original stand, the editor writes “stet.”

We decided on the name “Stet” for our informal group. Our practice of journalism was questioned, but we soldiered on and stood strong in our belief in journalism principles. Let it stand. Let the practice of good journalism regardless of the journalist’s gender stand.

A Manila newspaper columnist once wrote about Stet and described us as “naughty” for choosing a name that means “Let it stand.”

When night fell

But Stet was not all work. We had fun in almost nightly outings to bars, sing-along joints, and at times the beach. We finished work by 9 p.m., left newsrooms after deadline and returned home past midnight or at dawn. The group grew to include men and spouses who understood us and were behind us in the struggle to prove that women journalists can be serious and ethical practitioners in this then male-dominated industry.

Twenty-five or so years down the line, Stet is still around with the women journalists and the extended Stet (also called “Stuts”) remaining as friends and bearing witness to weddings of children, births of grandchildren and deaths of parents.

Birthdays and the holidays are occasions for us to gather, reminisce, laugh, gossip and dish out commentaries. Our favorite hangout is the Nivel house of Judge Meinrado and Jane Paredes. New Stet members and friends join our gatherings. Non-journalists in Stet include a monsignor, a priest, a justice, a judge, lawyers, an official of a regional government agency, an educator, and telecoms people. There is no application form or opening or membership committee.

With women holding leadership positions in media now, Stet has become simply a gathering of friends kept together by shared beliefs and passions.

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NEWSROOM TALES: “Press photographer ko!”

Most guidelines of newspapers and broadcast stations include the reminder to wear one’s press ID “and other visible insignia.” That’s more useful in crisis situations such as protests, riots, and…

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Most guidelines of newspapers and broadcast stations include the reminder to wear one’s press ID “and other visible insignia.”

That’s more useful in crisis situations such as protests, riots, and the like to tell clashing groups that one is a journalist and not a participant in the conflict.

Not all the time though.

During a standoff in Bogo, Cebu, still a municipality at the time, when supporters of the mayor prevented Commission on Elections officials and the police from taking ballot boxes containing election returns from the town hall, thugs pounced on Alex Badayos, Sun.Star Cebu chief photographer. Continue Reading

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Cebu Press at a glance

The only community media gallery in the Philippines is found at the Museo Sugbo on M.J. Cuenco Ave. in Barangay Tejero, Cebu City. Called the Cebu Journalism and Journalists (CJJ)…

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The only community media gallery in the Philippines is found at the Museo Sugbo on M.J. Cuenco Ave. in Barangay Tejero, Cebu City.

Museo Sugbo

Called the Cebu Journalism and Journalists (CJJ) Gallery, the project was initiated by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) in 2009 after CCPC executive director Pachico Seares sought to put up an exhibit dedicated to Cebu media.

After initial talks between broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro and Seares with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on locating the gallery in the Cebu Provincial Government-owned Museo Sugbo, Seares obtained approval for the project from the CCPC en banc on June 25, 2009.

On March 11, 2010, the CCPC en banc approved the memorandum of agreement between the Province of Cebu, represented by Garcia, and the CCPC, represented by its president, Dr. Pureza Oñate, to use space in the Museo Sugbo for the exhibit for 25 years, free of charge. The contract is renewable for another 25 years. Continue Reading

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Who pays for the microphone?

Five radio commentators (picked by CJJ for their broadcast experience, audience reach, and popularity) know who pays for the microphone. When a radio opinion maker takes a stand on an…

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Five radio commentators (picked by CJJ for their broadcast experience, audience reach, and popularity) know who pays for the microphone.

When a radio opinion maker takes a stand on an issue, castigates an erring public official, or praises him to the heavens, he considers the payor, his “boss.”

Not the station manager or owner, although the radio commentator needs to obey station and broadcast rules, but the public.

Remember what Ronald Reagan, in a debate during the 1980 New Hampshire primary, said when the host ordered the soundman to cut off Reagan’s microphone? He shouted, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. (Breen)!”

It turned out that Reagan’s campaign did pick up the tab for the debate. And he claimed his right with honest vigor, which virtually won him the presidency. Continue Reading

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