THEY punch typewriters to write their stories and dub their voices or record their interviews on analog tape recorders. News photographers use negative films and mechanical cameras to capture their subjects and they either develop it themselves or have it processed by a photo laboratory.
After having typed their stories, the news writers have to rush to the telex service providers like PT&T or RCPI to wire their stories to their respective networks which are usually based in Manila. Telefax or facsimile machines were available only towards the last decade of the twentieth century and pictures were either hand carried by a courier or sent via express parcel carrier to their publication firms.
For news outfits that has regional desks, provincial correspondent dispatches their news items through telephone via long-distance calls. With telephone news relays, it is important that both caller and receiver understands phonetics and for words that needed to be spelled out, the US military code system is often employed and it is not surprising to hear a caller mentioning “victory India alpha delta uniform Charlie tango” to mean viaduct.
Sometime in the late 80s, there was a conference jointly initiated by the Philippine Information Agency, the Cordillera News Agency and a group based in Manila led by Fr. Bong Bongayon and Jesuit priest Fr. Ibarra “Nim” Gonzales meant to empower the so-called fourth estate through a “People in Communication” convergence. In that two-day seminar-workshop, I remember very well Augy Loorthusamy whom I first heard about the NWICO or the New World Information and Communication Order, a research granted by the UNESCO called the McBride Report.
The McBride report resulted to a book entitled “Many Voices One World” written by the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, chaired by Irish Nobel laureate Seán MacBride. Meant to analyze communication problems in modern societies, particularly relating to mass media and news, the NWICO suggested a kind of communication order to diminish these problems to further peace and human development.
Among the identified problems were the concentration and commercialization of the media including the unequal access to information and communication by the greater population and so the commission called to democratize communication and strengthen national media to avoid dependence on external sources.
Though the report had strong international support, it was condemned by the United States and the United Kingdom as an attack on the freedom of the press and both US and UK withdrew from Unesco in protest in 1984 and 1985 and later rejoined in 1997 and 2003. I later learned that in 2014, Pope Francis conferred the title of Knight of St. Sylvester to Augustine Loorthusamy for his contributions to social communication during the Signis World Congress in Rome. Sir Augy who is an icon in Phonetics which is a branch of linguistics that studies the sounds of human speech is believed to be the first Malaysian to receive such award from the pope.
Looking at development of new communication trends which now include social media as the fourth installment, I have observed a big difference especially that it now involve practically everybody as the messenger and receiver.
There is a recent post tagged with “great 21st Century” in my network of FB friends where social media accordingly “tells you how to live your life and gives you a fake perspective of life where a lot of fake personalities hides their true identities”. Said post observes that many netizens take photos of their food first rather than pray.
Also notable nowadays is the bastardization and abbreviation of words where peer-to-peer understanding appears to be better than using correct spelling and grammar. After having spent over a decade teaching in college as instructor for Electronic Newsroom, Photography, Radio Television Production and the likes, I observed how students evolved from using rolled Manila paper with hand written scripts to the use laptops and iPads for their on-cam news reports and stand up spiels.
I am reminded of lawyer Dometilo Pineda, the former DZWT Station Manager who once told students at a media conference “nothing beats hard work” and Jose Nicolas Ilagan who stressed three things that communication students must internalize which are “accuracy, accuracy and accuracy.” It is quite nostalgic but both Mang Domy and Peps are already in the great newsroom in the sky perhaps observing how people on earth communicate differently.