What is a journalist
The recent Life Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Manila raises many questions that I believe need answers. First of all, what is a journalist? How do you define journalism as a profession? Can everyone who writes in newspapers be called journalists?
From the Internet, the definition of journalism is “the activity of collecting, evaluating, creating and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.
Journalism is distinguished from other activities and products by certain identifiable characteristics and practices. These elements not only separate journalism from other forms of communication, which make it indispensable to democratic societies. History reveals that the more democratic a society, the more news and information it tends to have.
There are certain elements of journalism that separate it from other professions, these are:
1. The first obligation of journalism is the truth.
2. His first loyalty is to the citizens.
3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
4. Its practitioners must maintain independence from those they cover.
5. It should serve as an independent check on power.
6. It should provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
7. He should strive to keep the news meaningfully interesting and relevant
8. He must keep the news complete and proportionate, and
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience. “
From my point of view, having been a journalist more than a lawyer, journalism is more a vocation than a profession. It is for these reasons that I believe it is more of a vocation than a profession, because there are times when a journalist will not hesitate to give his life for the truth, and for the good. readers of the press in the pursuit of a good common objective and of national interest.
The most critical question is: what is a real journalist? First of all, a journalist must possess curiosity, which leads a journalist to ask questions following a controversy, why did it happen and that there must be a reason for it.
When I wrote the talks while I was still editor of the now defunct Philippines Herald, I was always curious about what was going on at the Central Bank, so much so that I always walked around every office, always asking questions.
With the Central Bank in the old Ayuntamiento building in Intramuros, I made my daily rounds to the Manila Stock Exchange, being friendly with every stockbroker, asking questions.
Out of curiosity, I discovered that some members of the Monetary Council were playing the stock market.
This piqued my curiosity when I started asking brokers about them.
I soon learned from the vineyard that they had received dollar quota allocations from the import department. I quickly confirmed my suspicions about the three members of the Monetary Board and wrote about them.
It was a headline.
This sparked questions from Congress and soon enough Malacanang asked them to resign.
This led to the day I was kidnapped and forced to spend the whole night in a room at the old Filipinas hotel, under the care of a well-known gangster from Cavite, whose only reason for kidnapping me was that his friend’s son, one of the three members of the Monetary Council, just wanted me to hear his version.
Naturally, I joined because a journalist must find ways to get both sides of a controversy.
Then President Ramon Magsaysay met with me and I told him about the matter, and he asked me who I would recommend to replace the three MB members, and all I could think of was three honest men, the Colonel Jaime Velasquez of Ayala, Dr. Gumersindo Garcia of the University of the Philippines, then Undersecretary Amado Dalisay.
President Magsaysay said, “It is done. But that’s not the end of the story.
President Magsaysay had security guards assigned to keep my family safe.
These were crucial and stressful days because my wife complained that even when she went to the bathroom, the security guard had to accompany her, and I had to house and feed them.
Another thing a journalist must have is communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for a journalist. These skills are used regularly to interview sources and write in-depth articles and reports.
Mastery of technology. With the advancement of information and communication technology, proficiency in technology is a must. Journalists are expected to know how to use social media as a tool to report events and ensure transparent coverage of current events.
But, I must warn journalists to separate the truth from the lies as social media is often used by bloggers for disinformation and misinformation.
Journalists also need to have an analytical mind.
My advantage is that I am a lawyer and have been trained to argue on both sides of an issue or controversy, to analyze things and distance myself from my emotions regarding stories
Good judgment is essential for a journalist and he must use it regularly. Even when deadlines are tight, a reporter must hone their skills to report stories with accuracy and sincerity.
A journalist is accountable and responsible for what he writes, unlike bloggers and vloggers.
It’s for this reason that I don’t see why bloggers and vloggers need to be accredited to cover the president. Whoever recommended it must be stupid.
The last question that often comes back to me is: are all those who write columns in the news real journalists?
The answer is a big “NO” flat because a journalist in cold blood must go through the grinder.
Going through the mill, as I did, refers to the fact that a true journalist has to start at the bottom, like covering police beats to begin with.
The highest rate in a newspaper is to be a member of the Malacanang Press Corps. Of course, when a journalist like me, who has been there, becomes chairman of the editorial board, it is a feat in the life of a journalist.
Those who write columns in newspapers are not journalists. I consider them contributors. They bring their expertise, such as experts in geopolitics, governance, business, sport, lifestyle, entertainment, society, environment, agriculture or culture. .
The priests who write a column bring their expertise in religion, the soldiers their expertise in military matters and so on.
There are of course those who write a column who are considered more as journalists because of their expertise.
Columnists like Rigoberto Tiglao are for me a real journalist, having written for The Economist, and my colleague Tony Lopez is a real journalist, publishing BIZNews Asia and having been a correspondent for the defunct Newsweek.
Years ago, only journalists who had a proven track record could write a column.
Now, whoever thinks he or she can write, writes. Santa Banana, I had to earn my stripes before I could write a political column and I had to qualify as a commentator and interviewer on radio and television.
Many of my friends will resent me for this column about who the real and real journalists are, but I have to say it.
Journalism is more of a vocation than a career for me.
You will never get rich as a journalist. Surprisingly, our mainstream newspapers are full of columnists. In one newspaper alone, I counted 27 columnists. In other words, column writing has been bastardized.
And now the BBM press secretary wants to accredit bloggers and vloggers to cover the president, Santa Banana, she wants to bastardize the Malacanang Press Corps!