What counts is credibility

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

Then came the radio announcers who read the news and dished out political commentaries. I can imagine that the requisites then for radio talents was for them to simply to have good voice quality, plus clarity when talking on air. (The pretty faces were eventually discovered for the movies — like Carmen Rosales, who first made an impact as a singer.)

When TV came in, broadcasters only had to look pleasant to match their good speaking voice. As much as possible, they made an effort not to call attention to themselves. They were there simply to deliver the news.

Of course, the old Channel 5 hit the jackpot when they got Jose Mari Velez, who did not only look debonair, but had good voice quality as well. He was also very intelligent and that made female viewers tune in to ABC-5 during the late night newscast.

TV Patrol changed the look of the news program after EDSA I. Not only did it make news reporting border on the sensational, it also allowed the newscasters to bring out their individual appeal for the viewing public to appreciate. Even the attire changed — they were allowed to finally wear color.

Then came glamour and this made the profession of broadcasting so attractive to the young people dreaming of a future career.

But beauty is truly just skin-deep. Viewers were soon able to determine and distinguish between those who had substance and those who were just newsreaders and empty up there.

And now the name of the game is credibility. News programs rate because the newscasters — and the reportage — are credible.

I don’t think Mike Enriquez still has a chance of scoring high in a male pageant at this point of his life. And I doubt very much if he even entertained such thoughts when he was younger. But look at him and you see credibility written across his face.

Unfortunately for some broadcasters, credibility is not something you can buy in 7-11 or other convenience stores. That comes with time — like old silver covered with patina.

But you can start working on it. Here are a few pointers I hope can be used as a guideline among today’s new breed of broadcasters.

• Be objective. Never take sides. The only time you can denounce or condemn a person is if he or she clearly had been issued a multiple entry visa to hell. Stay neutral as much as possible. And no side comments, please, when what you are delivering is straight news.

And never allow yourself to be used as the network’s mouthpiece if you know do not believe in the message you are being asked to deliver. A credible network, in the first place, will not put you in a situation like that.

• Never be on the take. Of course, I didn’t even have to spell that out. However, we live in a real world where temptations abound. Should you accept tokens? Maybe — depending on the price of the gift. If it’s just a whole cake, take it. You’ll suffer anyway as you burn those calories. Some broadcasters also become friends with their subjects and they end up swapping presents.

If it’s a brand-new Jaguar, then that’s another story. And even with little tokens, make sure it’s not a bribe. In instances where there is no way you can return the cash without looking like holier-than-thou (that can also be insulting to the giver, especially if it’s not a ridiculously huge amount), donate it to a legitimate charitable institution and ask for a receipt in the name of the person who sent you the money. Send the receipt back (preferably with food also as a token) with a note stating that it can be used as tax deductible. No one gets insulted that way. Don’t forget to still show your appreciation.

Receiving even just a small token if you are in this profession can be a very tricky situation. You should exercise maturity and wisdom when handling it. But always remember: The ultimate key to gaining credibility is not allowing yourself to be bought. 

• Have a private life and try not to share details of family affairs with the public. To begin with, that is one way of protecting your loved ones, especially if you are doing exposes and the bad men can get back at you by harming your spouse and children.

I cannot even tell you to have a morally upright life because no one among us here on earth is supposed to judge that. We have broadcasters who have broken marriages and they remain respected. Just don’t be a floozy and flaunt it.

• Be professional. Do what is required of you and go the extra mile. Keep improving your craft. If you steadily stay in the profession and manage to avoid bumps along the way, you will be remembered for your credibility even way past retirement.

Harry Gasser had a broadcasting career all throughout the martial law years. But I never lost my respect for him. I knew he was just doing his job. He could have been an out-and-out sycophant (like most of his peers), but I don’t recall him sucking up to Marcos and hailing him as a saint when the late dictator was still in power. I salute his professionalism to this day.

Every day there seems to be a new broadcaster being thrown into this profession. The latest I know is Venus Raj who had just joined Umagang Kay Ganda. I’ve seen her there and she is doing a very good job — like she had been at it for years. In time she could be promoted to handling more serious segments and I’m sure she can tackle that given her thirst for knowledge.

I already trust her judgment this early. She may not have committed major, major mistakes in her 22 years of existence, but her one-year exposure under the limelight had taught her a lot. That was a crash course on how to live your life. Although still quite young, it is obvious that she already knows what is right and what is wrong. That is another major, major element you need to possess when building up your credibility.

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