by Alma Anonas-Carpio
Reuters’ Manny Mogato brings the number of Filipino Pulitzer prize-winners up to four, for the Reuters team coverage of the killings in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
In a report on its two Pulitzer prizes, Reuters wrote: “The Pulitzers, the most prestigious awards in American journalism, recognized Reuters in international reporting for exposing the methods of police killing squads in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, and for feature photography documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.” Reuters also noted that this is the first time that it received two prizes in one year.
In an interview with the Philippines Graphic, Mogato said this Pulitzer under his belt “will make me work harder, double the effort, because I am expected to deliver better stories. Honestly, this is frightening. I feel all the spotlights are on me. I will constantly be under scrutiny.”
He was also quick to say this Pulitzer win was “a team effort. I just did my part.”
The stories, he said, were the product of months of work: “A story would take two months of editing, revisions back and forth, questions akin to an inquisition from editors.”
For Mogato and his team, “really good journalism” entails “lots of leg work and data journalism. “ Mogato has been a shoot and write journalist for over three decades. He worked for publications like the Manila Chronicle, the Manila Times and the wires.
He defines good journalism this way: “Good journalism is accuracy and fairness, covering all bases, asking the right questions and not immediately believing what officials tell you without becoming cynical.” He also underscored the need for the journalist to exercise critical thinking while on the job.
“I’ve learned so much from this experience,” Mogato said. “My work went through the toughest editors, who were thorough in their line by line editing. They challenge you to ensure that your details are correct—checking if what you wrote were opinions or facts, and making sure there are no speculations, which explains why the editing took so long.”
“Just do your jobs,” Mogato dispensed this advice to his colleagues, “do what is right even if you are threatened online or physically. When we stop fighting for the truth, that is when the darkness will claim victory with ease. According to the interviews we did, many police officers do not agree with what is happening.”
Mogato’s Pulitzer is a beacon for his colleagues in the Philippines during very trying times for the press here. Congratulations, Manny, from the editors and staff of the Philippines Graphic.