Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In the News

I love reading the newspapers, anywhere I am. Over the past year, however, I found myself preferring one newspaper over another. Among the reasons for my change in preference is the method of reporting.

The recent events in the Philippines have provided a fertile ground for news reporting. All the best and the worst seem to be filled with passionate intensity, and we can read all that in the papers.

Take this excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 30, 2005.
President 'exiles' her husband
By Christine O. AvendaƱo
Inquirer News Service

The President did not say when or where her husband would go or how long he would be away. But she said that as a wife, she was "grateful" to him for making such a "sacrifice" to allow her to go about serving best the nation.

Ms Arroyo blamed her political enemies for deriding her husband, even on his
contributions to his pet projects such as health care and sports development, in
order to "distract" her from implementing her reform agenda.
Quotation marks around statements normally signify exact references from an information source. In this case, it would be the President of the Philippines. In modern composition, placing quotation marks around words is one tool to indicate a sense of irony or insincerity. It’s not uncommon to see conversations where one party raises both hands and hooks two pairs of fingers downward while speaking a word or a phrase.

An example is a question on whether this “journalist” trying to “report” the news “accurately”?

Take this version of the event from the Philippine Star
Mike A goes into exile
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

"For my children and granddaughters, missing their doting father and grandfather
is their small contribution to rebuilding our society. As a wife, I’m grateful
to my husband for his sacrifice. My family will miss him terribly, and I ask for
you to help pray that we remain strong as a family," the Chief Executive said.

She did not say where the First Gentleman would be relocating or how long he would be staying abroad.

Mrs. Arroyo said her husband "will leave to remove these distractions and doubts from our people," comparing him to a "Caesar’s wife" who must not only be incorruptible but also appear to be incorruptible.

She complained that her husband’s "contributions to health care and sports development have been the object of pillory, especially by my political enemies, who have been trying to distract me from fulfilling my reform agenda as president."

This above is a more conventional use of quotation marks, quoting complete lines from the subject’s statement. Of course, even this can be subject to misinterpretation depending on the narrative the quoted statement is placed alongside with. There’s always the common complaint about things being taken out of context. But entire statements can more often convey more accurate and precise meaning than a single word.

Once can also be unduly influenced by the adjectives, or the repeated use of related adjectives, in a narrative. Again, we can take samples from the recent headlines.

Susan ready to replace GMA
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star 06/30/2005

An angry Susan Roces yesterday declared her readiness to lead the country and
replace President Arroyo if she decides to step down from office.

Roces also rejected Mrs. Arroyo’s apology to the nation and demanded her resignation,
calling it "the most honorable thing to do."

Angry Poe widow calls on Arroyo to resign
Susan Roces ready to join protest rallies
By Fe B. Zamora
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the June 30, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

A combative Susan Roces yesterday demanded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's
immediate resignation, saying it would be the "most honorable thing" the latter
could do.

"The gravest thing that you (Ms Arroyo) have done is that you have stolen the presidency, not once, but twice," Roces said in a fighting speech at a press conference in the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

In the second excerpt, we can find the similar words angry, combative, and fighting. The first is in the title line and the next two are in each paragraph. It should be safe to assume that the writer intended to make a point.

My own point is that I prefer my news to be delivered straight and unembellished.

Without picking any political stand, I truly dislike texts identified as news reports that indicate a certain slant in the item being reported.

My reason is simple. I prefer to form my own opinion, so I’d like the event to be reported clearly and simply.

I do understand that a journalist has to distill a particular event into a form that fits neatly and concisely in a few columns. I wouldn’t want a newspaper filled with interview transcripts. Admittedly, a newspaper that prints the transcripts of the phone conversations could probably assure itself of the sale of a few copies.

But I do prefer a newspaper that ensures that its balanced news is clearly and only that, and not mixed up with its people's views.


Rhochie said...

Yeah, I'd like to form my own "opinion" on some of the "problems" that are "going on" right now in this "country", too.

The thing is, shouldn't it be the "editor"'s job to "edit out" the "semi-accurate bits" from the pieces "written" by his/her "reporters"? That's what the Editorial section is for, right?

If it's just their way to get out of a nasty libel suit, then I can say this: "Jinggoy Estrada likes to sleep around with young girls and boys, like Michael Jackson. The only difference is Jinggoy can't maintain an erection unless a poodle is sitting on his lap... or so I'm told."

banzai cat said...

You da man, Hobbes! :-)

Seriously, I can really appreciate the idea of trying hard as much as possible to avoid any particular slant to any statement. Which is why when I post statements at the site, I try to go for the whole declaration.

Unfortunately, since I don't have the reporter or the news editor's eye yet, I sometimes miss out a certain point in the statement that should have been emphasized in the report.

Hobbes said...

Yeah, there was another point I wanted to illustrate between two articles about the Hello... It's me story, but I wasn't able to get a copy of the Philstar article.
Personally, I can excuse occasional lapses, but with news stories that arc over several issues, I find I'm less forgiving.
And since that other particular paper was like that over two presidential administrations, I came to feel that they were creating more problems than just reporting on them.