Stupid girl

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By May Anne Cacdac

The Iron Maiden

Thursday, June 19, 2014


FROM the outside looking in, it is easy to judge a news publication or a broadcast network by what news items they carry.

During our lecture at the Philippine Military Academy on understanding the workings of media and enhancing media relations, where we spoke to first class cadets, a cadet asked ABS-CBN’s Dhobie de Guzman to explain the process of determining the headline story and which stories make it on air.

Dhobie went on to explain their company’s policies and guidelines and it seemed to satisfy the cadet.

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When I came on, I had to answer the same question with the indulgence of the Immaculates.

I stressed stories on employment, livelihood, trainings and academic scholarships usually capture a reader’s attention. This, of course, is dictated by the basic needs of men for food and shelter and education.

Stories on politics also seem to capture the fancy of our more mature readers. A big chunk of our readers are senior citizens and dissecting the local political scene, I assume, is one of their better pastimes.

Our current readers demographic will show we only have a so-so number of readers from the business sector. But since business stories gain a lot of attention nationally, developing this beat locally and make a following of this is something worth undertaking.

The occasional controversial stories make headlines, too. If it is a bandwagon or to stir up an intelligent discussion is always debatable, I admitted.

Here another cadet asked if it was truly fair to pass judgement against their institution on the basis of Cadet Aldrin Cudia’s case. The story was blown out of proportion and distorted to make us look as if we are the bad guys. In media, the Armed Forces is always the bad guy, the cadet opined.

I was on the bus on my way to Manila for a meeting when a message on Facebook appeared. It was a forwarded message, a statement, reportedly from Cadet Cudia’s sister lamenting her brother’s circumstances.

As I read on, I could not help but get the feeling this item will soon make headlines and that I had to make a decision quick. But I asked the team, particularly Malen and Jm, not to come out with the story first since we only had the FB message to work on.

And the headlines came, indeed. Malen and Jm each came out with a story to stress the positions of the PMA, the Cudia camp and also the Commission on Human Rights.

These headlines raged on for a month leading to the graduation of PMA Class 2014.

The graduation story for PMA was the last time we mentioned the case of Cadet Cudia. But simply because we have squeezed everything out of the story already. Nobody was talking anymore and we cannot work on speculations.

Was it fair to generalize on the account of Cadet Cudia’s case? No. But did the story merit a front page? Yes. Because it still puts to light the age old question of moral judgment and ascendency in our society.
Again the cadet seemed satisfied.

But what makes the biggest headline in Baguio?

Environmental stories. Or rather environmental abuses.

SunStar Baguio was placed in a bad light on social media when we failed to write the story of the cut trees in Mt. Kabuyao to pave way for a development in Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr.’s property when it first broke.

That was a failure on my part as editor to keep my eyes and ears open.

Maybe I should visit Luisa’s more often to get the latest scoop or maybe just City Hall will do.

Call it anything you want. But to blatantly accuse the publication of being under the payroll of the congressman is way out of line.

The newsroom is a constant battlefield. We fight demons every step of the way. We wage a battle inside ourselves first. Asking ourselves why we should or should not come out with this or that story. We ask what our readers will do with the information we feed them. We contemplate first on the immense power we have been given to influence how people think and how they will act.

This battle is something this pseudo-messenger knows nothing of. Cooped up in a hole with nothing but a laptop and a self-righteousness that blinds the “followers” this pseudo-messenger heralds the slanted version of the news as if it were gospel truth.

Where? On Facebook. Unless I’ve missed out on this pseudo-messenger’s publication.

But at the end of the day, we trust our readers know the difference between substance from bull crap.

“Stupid Girl” is a song in the Rolling Stone’s 1966 album, “The Aftermath”. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song came under fire because of its degrading lyrics.

Still can’t help it though. Part of the song goes: “The way she talks about someone else that she don’t even know herself, she’s the sickest thing in this world, well, look at that stupid girl.”

Reminds me of someone. But then again I’ve been called this, too.
So, quits?

Nah, never.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 20, 2014.

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