CELEBRATING a dozen Inkblots, fellows again gathered to hear experts pass on their grains of wisdom regarding the industry’s pressing issues.

The annual tradition of the Varsitarian continues as it reminds young journalists of their duty to uphold the truth in journalism in a three-day seminar held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium last October 18 to 20.

Lawyer and Philippine Star columnist Jose Sison encouraged over 300 fellows, consisting of student journalists and publications advisers, to “write about the truth” while maintaining sensibility and sensitivity in certain matters.

This year’s keynote speaker noted that a writer should be sure of his facts and use proper words, so as not to cause too much damage on a person’s reputation. He added that journalists should avoid ‘trial by publicity,’ or passing on judgment to a person who has yet to be tried through due process of law.

“Be charitable,” Sison said to the young journalists at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex auditorium, where he also expounded on issues that currently affect the media—particularly the Reproductive Health bill.

Fr. Nick Lalog of Radyo Veritas also recognized the power of media in his lecture in Catholic Journalism.

“Communication, like the one practiced by the journalists, is a power shared by God in which it is more than an expression of emotion,” the Varsitarian alumnus said.

Tricks of the trade

Tackling the basics of news writing is Philippine Daily Inquirer political reporter Christian Esguerra, who emphasized the importance of inquiry and commitment in gathering information and in writing the story.

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Esguerra, who established Inkblots in 1998, shared tools which reporters can use to tell a story more effectively—news judgment, patience, commitment, discipline, and respect for the language used.

He said one has to “dig deeper” to avoid missing an important detail, especially if the unknown information would add more flavor and meaning to the story.

“Don’t be irritated with yourself if you have a lot of questions because that’s where everything comes from. That’s just being inquisitive,” Esguerra said.

Going down to the campus level, the former Varsitarian editor in chief said that a reporter’s commitment is primarily to the truth, while the commitment to the school or institution is just secondary.

GMA 7’s Jun Veneracion echoed Esguerra in his investigative journalism lecture, saying that intricate data gathering is essential in establishing the backbone of the story.

“You have to find the story behind the story,” he said. “Being change-agents of society is a journalist’s greatest contribution.”

Then and now

Other speakers delved into trends brought by technological advancement, which can affect the way journalists do their work.

Discussing the broadcast industry, Cesar Apolinario said the enemy of media today is envelopmental journalism—a term coining bribery on the members of the media industry.

“But if you want to be honest and if you don’t want to tarnish your name and reputation, you have to say no to that,” he said, encouraging fellows to be “true reporters” by not accepting bribe.

The award-winning documentary reporter and director talked about the rise of online and citizen journalism, where the public can be reporters themselves through the use of gadgets readily available to them.

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“Alam n’yo ba na bukod sa pagla-live report ay nauuna pa ang Twitter sa pagre-report [ng mga balita namin]. Doon na unang pinupulot [ng audience] ang aming report,” Apolinario said.

Sharing a different view is Philippine Star sports columnist Joaquin “Quinito” Henson, who sees the electronic media as a challenge for journalists, and even acknowledged a possibility that print media could be obsolete a few years from now.

“But for me, more than the challenge, I feel that it is time for us to show how good we are as writers,” Henson said.

Going with the changes in the new media, BusinessWorld associate editor and Varsitarian assistant publications adviser Felipe Salvosa II discussed how the University’s official student publication became open to comments, particularly in its website.

“The Internet provides everybody a venue to put out their opinion, even opinions that are not well-informed, [misinformed], and [not authoritative],” added Salvosa, who is also a professor of Information Technology in the Newsroom at the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Manila Bulletin associate editor and former Varsitarian managing editor Nestor Cuartero also talked about evolution in feature writing.

He said news today has become more featurized because of the need to touch and connect well with the readers through the high entertainment level on the style of reportage, which gives the readers amusement.

“The objective [of featurizing news] is not just to inform, not just to educate, but also to reflect, to illuminate, to entertain, to help the reader form an opinion, [and] to arouse a human reaction to the story,” Cuartero said.

Applying the same ideas of featurizing in opinion and editorial writing, Manila Bulletin columnist Victor Emmanuel Carmelo “Vim” Nadera who gave a few tips in writing.

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“Organize your head and heart,” said the multi-awarded poet and former Varsitarian editor in chief.

In writing opinion and editorial articles, Nadera said one should be informative, but entertaining as well.

“Inspire others as others inspire you,” he added.

Other speakers in this year’s Inkblots are Inquirer chief photographer and Engineering alumnus Ernie Sarmiento (photojournalism), Sunday Inquirer Magazine Associate Editor Ruel de Vera (lifestyle writing), renowned poet and former Varsitarian staff member Rebecca Añonuevo (literary writing), Filipino fictionist and Artlets professor Eros Atalia (filipino writing), Philippine Star layout artist Dominador Dumaraos (layouting), and Kiko Machine cartoonist Manix Abrera (editorial cartooning).

The event was also graced by sports celebrities Chris Tiu and Dylan Ababou and Emmy-nominated actor Sid Lucero. Rommel Marvin C. Rio and Alma Maria L. Sarmiento

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