JOURNALISM / MEDIA

I will be on the Papal plane, now what?

1488767_10152396032379845_6191053346362572845_nNow it’s out. I will be one of 14 Filipino journalists who will be on the plane with Pope Francis during his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and back to Rome, next month.

The opportunity is “one of the great Christmas gifts” to Filipinos this year, said Bishop Mylo Vergara, head of the media committee for the papal visit to the Philippines.

Indeed it’s exciting, and a rare opportunity for Asian journalists, and a lot of work.

It’s not easy. First, my Italian is limited to some words I’ve read on a menu in a restaurant in Cubao. Second, I hardly passed my Latin and Spanish subjects during my seminary days.

Covering this rare occasion is a challenge, especially after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle criticized the “Western-dominated international media” that covered the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome.

The good cardinal described the media coverage of the synod as “fair” although he expressed dismay at the “agenda” of journalists who only focused on issues that were of interest to the West.

He also criticized the penchant of the media to label those who attended the synod.

“Labeling people as progressive, as conservative, as traditionalist, may hinder fully listening to them,” said Cardinal Tagle.

He said he felt sad that “there was not a single Asian journalist among the hundreds and hundreds of international journalists” in the synod.

“Who will report on the concerns of Asia? Who will report on the voice of Asia?”

Is it I (us), Lord, este, cardinal?

How does one cover a Pope like Pope Francis? How does one report on the concerns/voice of Asia?

That is the challenge, my friends, not how I could carry sacks of rosaries that you, dear colleagues, relatives, and Facebook friends want the Pope to bless.

(Can you imagine me carrying bags of rosary beads to the plane, opening it up in front of Pope Francis to bless if, by any chance, he stops by my seat?)

And by the way, thanks for all the “congratulations,” but I prefer “good luck.”

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MMJ Day 2 – River shooting, and more

On Sunday, May 13, I did my second day shoot for my final project for my multimedia class.

The day started early. After a cup of coffee, I traveled via motorcycle to the village of Sulangon where I took a small outrigger. We followed the tributary of Dapitan river to the village of Diwaan.

I used a tripod, which I placed on the prow of the boat. It was only later that I realized that every time the boat moves with the river’s gentle waves, my video shoots also moved up and down.

I also had a hard time focusing the 7D because of my eyesight and because of the movement of the boat. Some shots are out of focus. Good that I took still shots using my 60D.

Back in the home base around noon, I went to interview Bert Laput, a local journalist who wrote stories about the Subanens (Suban-on) in the past.

I went to Dipolog in the afternoon to take photographs and video of street scenes.

End of the second day.

On Monday, I will be going up to a mine site up in the mountain.

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MMJ Day 1 – Additional notes

Done with the first interview. Back to base at 8 p.m. after a motorcycle ride to and from the village of San Nicolas.

I used a lapel mic during the interview. I hope it lessened the sound of the rain, the birds, the pig that cried in the middle of the interview, and the passing motorcycles.

I used additional light to highlight the subject because it was already about to get dark when we reached the village.

Still downloading the video.

I have charge the batteries and reformat the memory card in preparation for early morning shoot starting about 6 a.m. tomorrow.

It’s getting to be exciting. I hope the weather will cooperate. It’s still drizzling.

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MMJ Day 1 – Rain, rain go away, please

First day of work on my final project for the multimedia class.

I worked the whole night last night preparing all the equipment, making sure that I will not forget anything – batteries, microphones, memory cards, tripod, cameras and lenses, and even a two-way radio to make sure that I will not lose my guide when we go to the mountain villages.

The preparation was perfect. Even the clothes I have to bring, the bags, the shoes, etc. I slept for only two hours.

I left early for the airport and slept all the way to Mindanao.

I arrived before noon. The weather was perfect. The sun was as hot as any other summer sun.

I took a motorcycle to my hometown. I discussed my project over lunch of “tinolang isda” and dried fish with my brother and my cousin who will tag along with me during the week.

We set the schedule of the interviews, the people we are going to meet, and the places we will be visiting.

Everything was perfect. Then the sky turned dark. There was lightning, then thunder. Then the rain came.

The first interview is set at 4 p.m. today. How do you do an audio interview in the middle of a thunderstorm? I can’t remember it being discussed in class.

I remember Master DJ Clark telling the class to look at the weather forecast before going on an assignment. But with climate change, there seems to be no predicting the weather anymore.

The show must go on, come rain or high water! The die has been cast.

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On mobile phones and doing journalism

There is no question about the importance of the mobile phone in today’s practice of journalism, especially in what has been now the “in” thing – a converged newsroom.

Mobile phones make the life of a journalist easy. One can take pictures, video, write and send stories, and talk to one’s editor or even engage one’s readers.

I vote that mobile phones be the primary tool for reporting for journalists in a converged newsroom, not only for distributing news to consumers, but also in all aspects of reporting a story.

But it does not mean that journalists should solely rely on their mobile gadgets to get a story.

Let me emphasize that there is no substitute to a face-to-face interview, to dirtying oneself in the field and smelling the fresh flowers in the middle of the forest when one is on an assignment.

Journalists should remember that the gadgets they have are just tools. What is important is the reporter’s clear understanding of issues he or she covers, the heart for the story and the willingness to go out and be with the source, be they politicians, businessmen, guerrillas, or the men, women or children on the streets of the city or of far-flung villages.

Mobile phones are important tools in doing journalism, but journalists should keep in mind that tools do not make journalists.

Should mobile phones be the primary reporting tool in a converged newsroom?

Yes, I have no doubt about it, but added to that are the other requirements and attitude in doing good journalism.

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