Chronicles of a Freshie Journalist: Ethics, Coverage, and a Prayer

Pay Per Publish

An acquaintance, T, asked me for press contacts to send press releases to, and said that each print of PR subject would entitle the writer to P5000. As someone who got her foot in the industry through PR writing, I was unsettled with the idea.

I wondered if it was just personal: as someone who has written PR and bled for copy to stand out from the paper and digital pile. Would it be any different from the “favor” costs of a press release that makes it to print? I can vouch that the clients I’ve written PR for have never given money for print, but it did come back in small favors. For example, If it was about a talent, the talent would perform at a “bargain” cost at the function. If it was a product, occasion gifts and tokens in the form of the product would be given, for better recall.

So replace money with favor, it seems less evil, doesn’t it? Take note however, that newspaper journalists aren’t even allowed to accept a cup of coffee from their subjects.

A former editor and present friend put it into perspective: Pay for print is done, but it’s a dirty deal. “And they can’t call themselves journalists if they do that.” She says. After all, if we accept that kind of deal, we’re no longer credible, as our perspectives come with a price tag.

That did that. I politely informed T that PR is not normally paid for, and they’d have a better chance with influencing as an advertiser. I worry though, T is new to the business and her foundations are looking awful rickety.

I personally blame the advent of “big bad bloggers” for how nonchalant T sounded about the offer, but thats for another entry.

The Coverage Routine

I write this while waiting for updates. We’re doing live updates on an advertising festival in Thailand, and I can’t imagine how this was done pre-Internet. Now, I’m in an aircon office in Manila waiting for updates from the associate editor at the event. The editorial assistant is with me coordinating content upload for the website, while I up my typing speed piecing the stories and pictures together.

On the first day of coverage, internet went down for a few hours. We panicked – what if something came through? What if something didn’t come through? We had no telephone contact with our boss and associate editor in Thailand. Could we afford to delay till the internet goes back on? Thankfully we didn’t have to find out, as the internet came back on right before the necessary updates came in. Spoiled much? We know.

But the power of the internet has its limits. When we thought it was safe to call it a night, we headed home, only to be called back halfway for urgent updates. There are some things that will never change, no matter how advanced the technology.

A Prayer

Relly Carpio, who I consider my journalism elder has been confined to Makati Medical Center ICU for a stroke. The stroke was attended to by way of drilling a hole through his head, but now the rest of the body is starting to break down. But the doctors are optimistic for recovery, and I trust that Relly will fight the good fight.

Prayers for Relly, who even through our differences, I valued his input on writing and life. Prayers too for his family, so that they may stay strong throughout the ordeal.

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Chronicles of a Freshie Journalist: Putting “Un” with Fashionable

This situation is best illustrated by Manix Abrera, from GMAnews.tv

What to do when you’re covering an event that you’re awfully under-dressed for?

I remember what an old editor once advised, “I don’t trust a journalist that’s well-dressed! It shows that he has time to care for how he looks!”

I’ve learned to look put-together for the business beat ever since I got sent to an impromptu meeting on casual Friday. I was dressed in pink leggings, an oversized shirt, and ratty vans at a corporate office. That is not an experience I’d like to repeat.

In my defense, no dress code was given in this event invitation. So I was “officey” at a nighttime event. I could have gotten away with it, if it weren’t  for the fact that it was organized by a fashion magazine.  (Yes, I am a newbie journalist who has not “read” all the people in the neighborhood!)

At the very least, I was in heels. Still, I knew I was in trouble as the fashion editors went around asking for details of outfits. I was surrounded by little black dresses, evening gowns, and purses that were probably flown in with their own private jet.

“This is from Zara, and my bag’s from a boutique in New York!”

“My shirt’s from Ukay…but my bag’s Vuitton.”

I was actually asked about my outfit details, “Uhm. The cardigan is from my Mom’s closet and my skirt’s from Baguio ukay.” I smiled meekly, took a gulp from my wine glass, then fled.

I gave a fellow writer, Denice, a call, “I have an emergency. Get down here, now. Get dressed–well-dressed, but don’t dress more than meeeee!”

Denice caught up an hour later. After one glance around the room, she downed a few more glasses of wine with me.

Would it have been worth dressing up for? The event was for a photography exhibit followed by a short film premiere. I checked out the exhibit, and found nothing much to write about. It was a standard fashion showcase. The styling was gorgeous, though by the signage of the model’s name below the photo, it was obvious that fashion was only an excuse to make connections.

Sure enough, no model outfits were shown in full, from head to two. The models were in profile, the most shown were from waist-up, if not up-close.

Then came the film.

I’m all for a showcase of fashion with film, especially in the era of engagement. While visually rich, it fails in very simple continuity. It had a motive coming out of nowhere, which makes it all a waste. I also have an ax to grind as it dared call itself “noir” when it was shot in full, lush color.

I took one last look around. Glamour wear all around, plates of fine cheeses, glasses of scotch, freeflowing wine — and all this put together around honestly so-so features.

Time to leave the bubble and put on some sensible flats.