Monthly Archives: October 2015

Column: “If the news is that important, it will find me”

Excerpts from prepared remarks read at the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines Summit on September 10, 2015, and published on September 15. 

I wanted to begin by revisiting our most recent collective trauma: [last] Tuesday’s traffic apocalypse.

One photo of the scene on Edsa went viral; [on Thursday], it [was] front and center of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was also the Top Story on Inquirer.net [in the] morning.

Traffic PDI

As far as I can tell, it went viral on Twitter through @orangemagTV, an events magazine.

But it started as a photo taken by a 29-year-old man, now known to many simply as MykJosh.

The photo has since taken on a life of its own—including [a] seasonally appropriate version. Merry Christmas!

I thought I’d start with these images because they illustrate my theme: The evolution of media roles, from standard to search to social. I think this framework best makes sense of the chaos, the clutter, the constant change, reshaping the news and information landscape.

At least, it makes the most sense to me …. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Media

Column: Duterte’s path to victory

The last of the “path to victory” series, published on September 8, 2015. 

I think Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is genuinely conflicted about running for president. His “big announcement” yesterday afternoon categorically renouncing a presidential bid must have dismayed his emerging network of supporters; at the same time, he must have been acutely aware that a genuine draft is extremely rare in Philippine politics. Did he do the right thing?

Last month, I tried to assess the election prospects of Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay: two declared candidates for whom not running is not an option. (It is a mistake to think that Binay will avoid a presidential campaign to ease the political and legal pressure on his family; becoming president is the vice president’s best defense.) I also tried to weigh the chances of a reluctant Grace Poe; as a first-term senator, she has the option to run again for the Senate in 2019. Duterte falls in this second category; he is on his seventh term as city mayor. Having taken a break from running Davao City in 1998 by serving in Congress (where he says he was bored beyond tears) and then again in 2010 (when he served as vice mayor), Duterte can look forward to two more terms in City Hall.

Also, and even though he doesn’t look it, he is already 70; he is just a few years younger than Binay. When he visited the Inquirer several days ago, he was forthcoming about where the strongest resistance to any presidential plan lay: his family. The summary he offered of his family’s main argument was in metaphorical Bisaya: Why are you even thinking of running, when you’re starting to walk with a limp? When he left the newsroom past midnight, after more than three hours in the hot seat, he did seem to have a slight but detectable kink in his walk. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics

Column: The Iglesia’s show of weakness

Written on the afternoon of Monday, August 31, 2015, an hour or so after the Iglesia Ni Cristo protesters left Edsa, and published the following day. The lucky timing led to over 60,000 page views of the original column (my 360th, as it happens), and about 17,500 shares on Facebook. Plus hundreds of very interesting comments.

Wow. What just happened?

As I write this, the smoke has cleared from the Iglesia Ni Cristo protest action on Edsa. The protesters have gone home; the intersection of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Shaw Boulevard, the main site of the mass action, has been tidied up; the major satellite rallies in Cebu and Davao have been called off.

Protest organizers eagerly declared “victory” when they announced the end of the protest, saying the thousands of church faithful who had taken to the streets can now go home because the Iglesia ni Cristo had reached an “agreement” with the government. What that agreement stipulates they did not say. Neither (as of the time of writing) has the government.

I am skeptical that any agreement has in fact been reached—aside from the strictly logistical understanding needed to allow the protesters to leave Edsa in orderly fashion. Of course I could be wrong, but it does not seem likely to me that a famously stubborn president like Mr. Aquino, buoyed by renewed popularity and unfailingly loyal to his friends, would abandon Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the altar of political expediency. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics, Readings in Religion

A teaser video

A series of climate change special reports by the Inquirer Group, coming next month.

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Filed under Shades of Green