They desperately seek out Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who, by his nature as an unconventional subject, is now the country’s most quotable person and the press’ hottest copy – as if being president is not hot enough,
Many of them are young, aggressive and persistent reporters. Others are veterans of the presidential coverages.
Some seek out the help of their Davao counterparts. Others simply throw their weights around, using their reputation or shall we say their ‘prestige’.
They churn out stories and send images for their networks to print and air.
But the coverages does not end there.
All stories go through the whole caboodle of the editorial standards and requirements each of these networks require of their field reporters.
Why I am saying and stating these?
Because understanding the slants, angles and preferences of the stories need to be understood from where these are coming from.
I hate to use this most abused journalistic jargon – context – because it should be a given that all thoroughly thought of stories are presumed to have them. And I believe it should always be anchored on it. No need to even remind us of it.
First, let me emphasize that for the first time, the Philippine press is having a principal and most important news source who does not shun away from giving straight, whimsical and often preposterous statements before lapping reporters.
This did not happen overnight.
It all began when the non-Davao based press covering Duterte back in the days leading to the campaign period found him a novelty.
Indeed, no other presidential candidate in the history of the country migrated himself from serious to self-effacing with so much ease. Like a chameleon who easily blends into his environment. He could be ashen pale and piping red hot at the snap of his fingers.
They found him amusing and good copy at first. His statements are quoted and interpreted as many as there are reporters covering him.
He does not hesitate to bring out the elephant in the room. And that sells.
It was good while it lasted – the novelty.
They thought he was just a passing fancy.
But when the novelty turned into reality, they began to view him as a wayward speeding train.
They see him veering away from the track they are so often used to seeing from a president.
His off the cuff remarks became their steady fares.
The novelty they used to amuse themselves is now driving them out of their comfort zone. From being discomforted, the mood became outraged.
When he finally won, their outrage became a disbelief.
They looked around and found themselves lost in the sea of things.
Their very privileged ways are no match to the intransigence and bull-headedness of their subject. They hit hard. But their subject dishes even harder. And they no longer find it amusing and to their liking.
They began to complain. Some even took to task their Davao counterparts for selectively picking the outrageous statements of Duterte, if not at all ignoring what non-Davao press are greedily devouring.
What is worse is that some have insinuated that the Davao press has been stymied by Duterte. They thought the 'provincial press' have become timid and docile when covering the president-elect.
They unconsciously have themselves become the bullies they say the president and his army of supporters are.
Remember how one threatened to hit a camera man shooting a live feed because told she was blocking the camera of a local station of a rival network?
Yes, there are limits and lines that should not be crossed even if we all are agreed that the press should not be intimidated and be threatened by physical and psychological harm.
But never look down on your ‘lowly’ local counterparts. More than you who enjoy the luxury and security of your living, they know your subject very well to understand his nuances, his idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. And these are not clouding their appreciation of what the man stands for and what he has done for their community.
Don’t belittle their capacity to rise up against tyranny, oppression and repression for they have been there before and they have laid their lives on the line.
They do not have the privilege, security and comfort of your pay. They do not enjoy the perks that go along with your status as members of the ‘national’ media.
But neither are they incapable of being critical, analytical and judicious with their coverage.
After all, they lived through all the horrors of war and suppression.