Words

Posted by Janvic | Posted in | Posted on 7:26 AM

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Some people would say I'm a good writer. I'm not.

I don't even know why I continue writing. Definitely not because I enjoy it. I don't.

Probably because I am compelled to do so. Forced, actually.

It's been ten years since I've started believing that I'm destined to be a writer. I was first a short story writer. I won this award when I was in grade 4 when I wrote a story about a boy and a talking cow, chatting about their problems. I forgot the details. But the recognition inspired me to continue writing. Every recognition will do that to you. It just so happened that a best writer award will show you the clear path that you should take, as compared to a best in mathematics award that will make you wonder what you're supposed to do with it.

I was then a playwright. I wrote several scripts in high school, from 5 minute skits to stage adaptations of Florante and Noli to an original two-act play about the Philippine history. I was even a screenwriter once, writing the script of our high school class' final film project. I remember writing this particular script using a typewriter. Just to have that cool typewriter font. Much to my disappointment when I found out that you can download and install one in MS Word.

I wrote poems. For a short time I thought I was a good poet. Then I realized I don't even know what exactly poetry is. What I know is that the rhyming phrases that you think about when you're in love or broken-hearted or sad aren't poems. Well, maybe they are. It's just that, well, how the hell would you know that when you don't know what exactly poetry is?

I wrote several essays, mostly for my composition subjects. I even enrolled to an essay writing course in college. I got some recognitions, I think. One of the most memorable is the remark of my former professor, urging me to continue writing because, according to her, I have the potential to be a good writer. For years her words inspired me, but that's before I found out she don't remember who I am.

For years I blogged. Personal thoughts, rants and other things. I developed this emotional style of writing I called emopinions. Emotional opinions, that is. I made a small dent in the blogosphere (in multiply, actually). I made a few friends, which is basically the best thing I got from writing. I made enemies, of course. One or two, or even ten would tend to hate you when all you write about are angsts and anger and death and despair. And then I grew up. And then I realized I am not the only person who has problems. I failed to write a post for a week. Then a month. Then a year.

I never lost my angst. Or my anger. Or my despair. They just became too personal that I don't want other people to know them.

I focused on national issues. I posted several opinions on this or that issue. Back then it was easy for me to form an opinion. It was easy to say that I don't like this or that policy. The problem is that a lot of people write about that. Why read mine when you can read a better one on a more credible site? And then at some point it was all about readership. And when I realized that no one's reading my posts, I decided to stop blogging and limit my writing in the school publication.

I've always been a journalist. I used to like writing news and all those kind of stuff. I thought the only challenge was to beat the deadline. Then came criticisms of my poor analysis and understanding of the issue. Then came the realization that no matter how hard I try, I'm not improving.

At some point I'll just stop. Angst. Anger. Despair.

And then I will be forced to try again because I don't have anything to do other than writing. After all, it's too late to look for that best in mathematics award and wonder if there is another path that I could take.

Five letter words

Posted by Janvic | Posted in | Posted on 11:57 AM

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The five-letter words – either PRESS or MEDIA – printed on vests and ID’s of journalists that serve as free entrance tickets to certain star-studded events and first-rated incidents, sometimes also serving as free passes against traffic violations, is not a job benefit of being a journalist. In fact, the recent massacre of 30 media personnel in Ampatuan, Maguindanao proved otherwise.

Contrary to the belief of the majority, the stature of being a member of the media – also known to many as the “watchdog” and the “fourth branch of the government”, next to the executive, legislative and judiciary – is a liability, more than an asset, especially in this country. One primary reason: the world of the journalists is all about digging to uncover the reality while the world of the others, particularly those in power, is all about burying the truth.

The worst part is that the battle between those who uncover and those who bury is uneven, added to the fact that the battle should not exist after all. Until now, journalists who tend to do their job description usually find themselves facing a court charge, or more appalling, having bullets in their skulls or being buried in mass graves. Yet, many are still willing to venture this field even with imminent dangers faced by journalists these days. What, then, is the benefit of being a journalist?

The usual noble answer is “to be able to serve the people by telling them what they need to know”. I believe, though, that journalists have personal reasons when they chose to be in this field. Personally, I admit that I find journalism as an outlet of my passion for writing. It also satisfies the adventurist-side of my brain and, of course, the achievement felt after reading the byline. The best benefit of journalism, however, is unknown to many.


American BBC?

Posted by Janvic | Posted in , | Posted on 8:44 PM

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Columbia University president Lee Bollinger recently published an interesting and rather controversial article in the Wall Street Journal proposing a creation of an “American World Service that can compete with BBC and other global broadcasters.”

Bollinger argues that the presence of the Internet caused an “economic decline” in the print and broadcast media industry. He says what is needed is a publicly funded media organization not unlike PBS and NPR. He proposes a system revision that will consolidate the resources of these two organizations to develop a “globally competitive” media institution.

Bollinger himself noted the primary criticism of publicly funded (that's controlled by the government, making it state-funded) media organizations – government influence. Then he offers a very exemplary solution: we must trust the media institutions that they will still be the watchdog-slash-fourth branch of government even if their fund comes from the state. Outrageous.

Media organizations simply can’t receive funding from the government and maintain their status as ‘autonomous’ and ‘independent’. Nobody would buy that.

Bollinger is right in pointing out that with the Internet, the tri-media (TV, radio, print) is seriously deteriorating. Yet, I do not believe that the decline of the traditional journalism translates to deprivation of essential information. With the Internet, journalists have a venue where they can tackle pertinent issues in depth – one thing that can’t be done in traditional media because of space and airtime considerations.

From my perspective, Bollinger’s proposal is not just an attempt to salvage the traditional American journalism. I feel like it’s also an attempt of the United States to re-capture the global media domination currently held by BBC. This is a personal concern. What will happen to the currently-in-question foreign policy of the United States when a state funded American media institution dominates the global media industry?

Of Student Papers and Ads

Posted by Janvic | Posted in | Posted on 6:33 AM

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Daily Egyptian (DE), the student publication of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC), publishes an eight-page 12x18 paper everyday. The first time I heard about this, I was really amazed because it was: 1) a very difficult feat for student journalists, 2) it really costs a lot.

I wasn’t surprised that DE is working with an annual budget of around $1.5M. What is shocking is that all of the money comes from advertisements that cover around half of the entire issue.


I have been a student journalist for more than seven years. And the idea of putting advertisements on the pages of campus publications isn’t new to me. After all, the reality is that mainstream newspapers earn more from advertisements than subscriptions.

Another reality, however, is that campus publications aren’t part of this mainstream group.

A lot of student publications in the Philippines accept the notion that paid advertisements, especially from politicians and major corporations, have no space in our pages. It’s partly cultural, as Filipinos have the tradition of feeling indebted to someone who ‘helps’ them. It’s quite evident with the mainstream media, where they usually block negative stories if it concerns their major advertisers.

Most student papers, especially the progressive ones, simply do not want pressure and manipulation from these sectors. That’s very different from the views of some journalists that I talked to here in the US. They say the media remains free despite the presence of advertisers.

I don’t know if that’s true. If we’re to assume that it is, well, to put it bluntly, it works quite different in the Philippines.

On Gender Equality and Equal Rights

Posted by Janvic | Posted in | Posted on 2:03 PM

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On Gender Equality and Equal Rights (SUSI New Media Techniques I output/07-01-10)

I stand with my belief that the idea of “equality” between men and women is unattainable. The thought, simply, is very subjective, if not, ideal.

Over the years, the issue of gender equality has always been a part of discussions in communities, classrooms and even the Congress. And while many tend to believe that once laws giving equal rights for men and women are passed, “equality” will follow suit. I don’t think it works that way.

Culture and tradition, among others, are playing a big role in this subject. The Philippines is a Catholic nation, and I personally believe that this religion strengthen the existence of machismo culture in our country. In contrast to that, several pre-Christian religions who believe in the importance of women in the society also exists in the Philippines. One way or the other, it is most likely that a particular gender would appear dominant.

I advocate equal rights between men and women. And that would mean I would not offer a seat to a lady unless she is pregnant, has a child with her, has a disability or an elderly. But that doesn’t seem to be a good move in a culture where every women expects to have a gentleman offering her a seat. This is contradicting the idea that women wanted equal rights. They, after all, in the said scenario, are not for equal rights but for special treatment. This special treatment, as my feminist professor puts it, is a self, social or cultural oppression that a lot of women in the Philippines are experiencing.

Men, sometimes, also experience this inequality. In several cases in the Philippines, women who are dominant in a group were dubbed as “patriarchal” – stereotyping men as dominant.

Victoria Shannon’s article (Equal Rights for Women? Survey Says: Yes, but…/NY Times: 2010) interestingly notes the gender inequality despite the presence of equal rights. Women, while they can have a job, are also expected to shoulder major responsibilities at home. This is a fundamental thought that proves the fact that while equal rights can be established, equality between men and women is a far-fetched idea.

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