“[T]he need for independent, courageous, trustworthy journalism is as great as it’s ever been.”—G. Sulzberger, Publisher, The New York Times
Reading Sulzberger’s New Year’s message in The New York Times reminds me of my own introduction to the Philippines Graphic as its editor back in 2009.
It has been an enlightening and challenging nine years for us, for me in particular, one marked by the highs and lows journalism in this benighted country requires us to face each day.
It’s the kind of work that involves the pulling up of our sleeves without the chance of ever pulling them down even while ‘on leave’.
In short, we’ve exhausted all efforts to tell our nation’s stories in more compelling ways in whatever situation or condition we find ourselves in.
Suffice it to say that we have tried, with noticeable difficulty, to bring to the public news analysis and literature people deserve.
This year, and the years leading to the Philippines Graphic centennial, we echo with Mr. Sulzberger the need for “independent, courageous, and trustworthy journalism,” one that will neither flinch nor step back from its original and traditional ethos.
Our belief consists of bringing to the public a spirit and level of news-telling that is bold, reliable, and steadfast in its principles of Accuracy, Brevity and Context. These, to the journalists of Graphic, are the ABCs of exemplary journalism.
Our covenant with our readers: To refuse to swerve, not an inch, from its tenets.
It’s not as easy as it seems. Capital outlay comes few and far between these days, not with technological advancements such as social media and internet website raking in the funds formerly reserved for print media.
The Graphic’s supporters have been generous enough to see us through hard times, and for that we are truly grateful. In order for us to soldier on, we’re looking at increasing this support base in order for us to serve the country in the way that is required of us.
Such advancements also brought to the fore a slew of other problems, foremost is the undermining of journalism. There seems to be a global attempt to discredit credible news outfits for the more unreliable proliferators of “fake” news.
The attempt by unscrupulous people to rewrite the events and happenings of our time, even whole histories, should be a matter of grave concern for all of us.
Without the need for breast-beating, our editors, writers, and correspondents have braved the darkest corners of our age if only to bring you the stories and analysis that matter. It’s a hard climb to the holy mount, one spurred by continuous study, but it was something always worth the effort.
This problem is not particularly unique in this day and age. Apparently, every era had its fibbers and fraudsters, to say nothing of these impostors infiltrating credible news outfits themselves.
They employ everything in their power and influence to circumvent the truth, to muddle the line between reality and lies. These prevaricators move heaven and earth to bend the truth to their whims, realizing little, if at all, that the consequences of such actions ripple toward a wider audience each day.
While the shadow they cast is huge, the light we beam out there is even bigger. Cliché as it may sound, all we need is a spark to dispel the darkness.
That particular spark I have learned from a former boss and, allow me to say, a good mentor: the late Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, the Aliw Media Group chairman emeritus. For him, there was no dismantling fairness in reportage—ever. It’s unequivocal to the practice of journalism.
In the race to the Philippines Graphic centennial, this is our covenant with our readers: to oppose every effort to discredit the profession and the truth it pursues; to live up to the standards of those who have gone before us, and no matter what it takes, to wear their large shoes with pride; and engage a public, made weaker by lies, with exemplary storytelling, all the while infusing the same with expertise, skill, and context.
And, not the least, to prove to the same (our advertisers, not the least) that good journalism benefits humanity and commerce more than fabrications on the sly. You cannot go wrong with the truth in your hands.
More than ever, the Graphic will not only focus on bringing answers to the controversies we face each day, but introduce our clientele to the latest in science, philosophy, medicine, and the environment; the best ‘food trips’ and destinations in the country and around the world; the best in local and foreign literature; education, and the most engaging books and films; and of course, interviews with newsmakers and everyday people.
All these come on the heels of a promise that the narratives we call our nation’s memory will be imbued with expertise and proficiency at every turn, at whatever cost. As we fortify journalism’s time-tested traditions, we are also looking to a future where we can engage the public using the best of digital advancements.
Over and above everything, we in the Graphic believe that trust overrides any interest, that freedom to express without fear or favor must be the core on which everything stands.
It’s the least we can do as the Fourth Estate—the guardians of the national memory.
On behalf of the corporate and editorial family of the Philippines Graphic, may the next nine years arm us for the battles which would safeguard Philippine democracy. This is our toast to the magazine’s centennial and our nation’s future. G