news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

FTT Bonus Edition: Joint Session on Martial Law at Batasan

The weekend is normally a light day for journalists.

But on Saturday, July 22, the House of Representatives and the Senate conducted a joint session to decide the fate of Martial Law in Mindanao. The unexpected event forced a select number of news organizations to go to work in the most unusual of circumstances.

While CNN Philippines, DZMM TeleRadyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel were able to allocate several hours’ worth of coverage, the same cannot be said for GMA News TV and PTV-4. Neither network came out prepared for this special event, and remained in true weekend mode with regular programming and a minimalist workforce.

As for News5, they opted to air the joint session online instead of traditional media. Finally, on the AM radio side, only DZBB, DZMM and DZXL covered this special occasion.

It is possible that the lack of participation of a few networks is due to their intensive preparations leading up to Monday’s SONA. After all, the latter event is by far the most important as far as they are concerned.

Still, Saturday’s joint session is just as important, because the decision regarding Martial Law could either make or break Mindanao. Too bad only a few networks were serious enough to comprehend.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

A Message to RTVM: Make the 11:00 A.M. Press Conference Mandatory

‘Mindanao Hour’ at Malacañang Palace has become a regular occurrence of late, with its frequent interruptions in programming becoming an annoyance to viewers. (Photo credit: Presidential Communications Operations Office)

The press conferences at Malacañang Palace have become a regular occurrence.

In the last few weeks, news networks cut their regularly scheduled programming short in order to air these press briefings live. But while they appear important to the average person, many do not appreciate Malacañang’s unexpected interruptions.

Most of these recent press conferences focus on the state of Mindanao, particularly Marawi, during the island’s implementation of Martial Law. The so-called ‘Mindanao Hour’ usually takes place at around or past 11:00 a.m., and is led by presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella and other speakers of interest, most notably AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

With the crisis in Marawi now reaching its 50th day (and counting), it all seems imperative for Malacañang to make the hourly press conferences mandatory for news organizations to follow. But so far, only the government-owned People’s Television Network, CNN Philippines and the ABS-CBN News Channel are the ones willing to air these events.

The rest? Some either broadcast these proceedings online or do not care at all.

If the Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) were to ask, is it high time to make these press conferences a regular program? Perhaps the time is now right to do so, given the frequency of the event.

However, if the news organizations were to ask, are they prepared to handle a mandatory event such as the Malacañang press conferences? They may agree, but they could make some sacrifices to make the briefings work.

That said, these regular interruptions in programming require the complete cooperation and concentration between RTVM and fellow news outlets. If they choose to make the press conferences mandatory, they must be in the same page to make it work, as long as it does not interfere with their regular programs.

It is nice to get some much-needed updates and information from the most reliable sources. But if they regularly do so in an unexpected manner, then it may become an annoyance to people.

Update: It was announced that ‘Mindanao Hour’ will only take place on Monday and Friday, with written statements issued from Tuesday to Thursday. However, expect Malacañang to issue more press conferences in relation to other concerns of national interest.

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news, Philippines, television

A Look Back at News Coverage of the Resorts World Manila Attack

Friday’s incident at Resorts World Manila was headline news for journalists throughout the country. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN News)

Tragedy strikes on the first Friday of June.

On June 2, 2017, gunshots and fire broke out at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City. When it was all said and done, 37 people were found dead through suffocation, and the gunman, later identified as former Department of Finance employee Jessie Carlos, shot and immolated himself to death.

Here is how the country’s major news outfits fare with the coverage of the incident.

ABS-CBN News Channel and DZMM TeleRadyo

The burden of ABS-CBN News’ coverage was shared between DZMM TeleRadyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Both networks went on breaking news mode the moment the attack at Resorts World Manila struck.

ANC and DZMM continued to provide updates of the tragedy over the next 24 hours, with the former somehow eschewing its regular programs in favor of the generic ‘ANC Live’ brand beginning at 11:30 a.m. DZMM continued to air its regular programs but on occasion it gave way to special coverage of the said incident.

GMA News TV

GMA News TV’s coverage began through its simulcast of DZBB shows ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’, ‘Sino?’ and ‘Dobol A sa Dobol B’. Their marathon continued through ‘News to Go’ and ‘Balitanghali’.

The network essentially preempted all regular programming in favor of TV shopping blocks for much of the afternoon. In between, newscasts such as ‘Quick Response Team’, ‘Balita Pilipinas’ and ‘State of the Nation’ continued to update on the situation.

CNN Philippines

While CNN Philippines is a 24/7 station (at least for cable and satellite subscribers), the network’s coverage at Resorts World Manila did not begin until 6:00 a.m. once ‘New Day’ kicked in. From that point on, CNN Philippines went on three different phases.

First, the network’s early morning coverage was aired in English, followed by a Filipino language marathon of the incident during the late morning through early afternoon. After that, English language coverage resumed all the way till the deep part of the evening, with some regular programming in between.

News5

Unfortunately, Luchi Cruz-Valdes’ outfit failed to deliver when it mattered most. Although Radyo5 92.3 FM (and by extension AksyonTV) provided some breaking news on the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the networks continued to air regular programming as if nothing had happened.

Even the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts on TV5 had a bad outing as well. Considering that the newscasts only have at least an hour of airtime (not to mention Raffy Tulfo’s penchant to do some extracurricular activities not related to news), it is clear that LCV and company have too little to offer with a meager cast and limited time.

The next two days saw further updates of the Resorts World Manila tragedy, but other than that, it was all back to normal programming. Additional press conferences at the Resorts World Manila, including the revelation of the gunman’s name, were a few highlights of the weekend.

Overall, it was a field day for major news networks in the country. But while Ging Reyes, Marissa Flores and Armie Jarin-Bennett have done a pretty good job putting all the work in dealing with the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the same cannot be said for Luchi Cruz-Valdes, and it’s a shame.

When tragedy strikes, somebody must take action. And in times like this, news networks and other related organizations should be first on the scene to deliver the news and bring up-to-date reports to everyone.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Thoughts on Lack of Attention Regarding Palace Press Briefings

 

Secretary Ernesto Abella (here pictured with DENR secretary Gina Lopez) is one of two primary voices behind a press briefing at Malacañang Palace. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office)

Secretary Ernesto Abella (here pictured with DENR secretary Gina Lopez) is one of two primary voices behind a press briefing at Malacañang Palace. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office)

Press briefings at the Malacañang Palace tend to be underappreciated by the media.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte features two men who represent him during media engagements at the Palace. On one corner, there is presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, and on the other corner, there is Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Martin Andanar.

Both men have the responsibility of speaking with the media in behalf of President Duterte. Much of the conversation is usually directed on top media stories that affect the country, such as natural or man-made calamities, political controversies, and even the health of the President himself.

While the two are the primary voices of the Palace press briefing, they are also accompanied by other members of the Cabinet. They are here to discuss certain other issues that require immediate resolution.

Unfortunately, such live events are not taken for granted by a majority of media outlets in the country. Apart from the Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) which handles all live coverage involving the executive branch, only government station PTV-4 and private news network ABS-CBN News Channel have the privilege of bringing them live.

So where is the love as far as Palace press briefings are concerned? For some news networks, it seems like the appearances of Secretaries Abella and Andanar do not mean a thing, and that their only concern is with President Duterte himself.

Before making a negative reaction, here is the reason why news networks should also look at Secretaries Abella and Andanar. Their responsibilities as spokespeople behind the President are just as important in relaying information and opinion to both the media and the general public, even if they lack the powers that the President possess.

That said, the news media must carry these press briefings since these are deemed significant items to write about. After all, the President may be the country’s most powerful person, but even he/she can be human at times.

Overall, a press briefing at Malacañang Palace is just as necessary to cover as President Duterte’s speaking engagements. Whatever words Secretaries Abella and Andanar relay to the media will determine the country’s fate moving forward.

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Thoughts on Prioritizing Executive Branch Over Legislative Branch in Live News Coverage

The executive branch (in this case President Rodrigo Duterte) will always be the top priority of news networks when it comes to live coverage. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

The executive branch (in this case President Rodrigo Duterte) will always be the top priority of news networks when it comes to live coverage. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

It is never easy to cover live news events in the Philippines.

For outlets such as People’s Television Network, CNN Philippines, GMA News TV, DZMM TeleRadyo and ABS-CBN News Channel, following a live broadcast of a news event takes sacrifice and dedication. With that, they sometimes preempt ongoing programs just to get into the meat of the action.

But what if there are two news events that take place at the same time? Like for example, an ongoing Senate or House hearing taking place alongside either a press briefing at Malacañang or a speech of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Obviously, the priority of the news networks is the executive branch, who always has the final say in political matters. That said, it is mandatory to cut away from a live Senate or House hearing just to move over to either the Palace or President Duterte himself.

But for some, cutting another live event short in favor of either Malacañang or the President can be rude at times. For them, not all headlines involve President Duterte and the Palace, and on occasion, the Senate or House hearing could be the top story of the day.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that they can do. Focusing the executive branch over the legislative branch in live news broadcasts is a long-standing tradition, one that news networks always abide.

For those who want to get the news straight, there is YouTube to take care of. Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives have their own YouTube channels that focus on their respective branches, and they live stream important events that are also seen on news channels in the country.

But for those who don’t have the patience to watch, just wait for the evening newscasts to summarize them all. After all, live news coverage is only for the most informed citizen.

In the end, news coverage will always be a complicated process. But at least there are alternatives to get the necessary facts to the viewer.

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