A different kind of news reporting

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

The International Eucharistic Congress (now known to us Cebuanos in its iconic and very popular initial, IEC) brought to our city meaningful impacts. It was clear to me that most, if not all, of its activities touched the lives of rich as well as those of the less privileged in many significant ways.

Let me give you an example. After we came out of the Asilo de la Milagrosa chapel during the Thursday evening "visita iglesia," my family happened to talk with two priests from India, Fr. Malcolm and Fr. Robert. We were curious to know what their impressions were. With a feeling of sincerity imbedded in their eyes, they both showed amazement at our religiosity. The "visita iglesia," which is but one of our religious traditions, is not known to their community. According to them, the faithfuls in India do not practice it. They were awed by the attendance of a very huge congregation, who walked thru three churches and yet prayed along the way.

In our brief conversation, Fr. Malcolm and Fr. Robert informed us that a very gracious host, the Castañeda family of Mandaue City, accommodated them very generously. They were profuse in their thanks to the very friendly accommodation they received. And they shared with us an even more touching observation. While walking through those three churches, the two priests observed that those who joined the procession came from all noticeable walks of life in total disregard of their different social standing. Indeed, without their usual bearing of affluence, the rich walked with us, the poor.

Here is yet another example. During the mass held at the SRP to close the week-long affair, my family stayed near the tent manned by the personnel with markings on their shirt indicating that they were from the Department of Health. Young men, most probably doctors, conversed distinctly in different dialects two elders. They were not all Cebuanos, yet they were bonded together by a strange feeling of oneness in serving humanity.

When a lady was brought under the tent for some obvious medical attention, all of the DOH personnel scrambled to do their utmost to serve her. They displayed the same verve when another elderly gentleman, followed the lady patient. I could silently applaud the DOH team. If this is how DOH people attend to other Filipinos who need their help, we have nothing to complain against our government.

From the perspective of my being a newsreader, here is a still other example. For more than a week, our newspapers covered the IEC events spread on the front pages. It was very refreshing for me to notice that there were no sensationalized reports we are accustomed to. Robberies and other petty crimes were relegated to insignificant inside pages. Drugs, which we believe are peddled openly on many areas within our city, and the kind of arrest of big time drug lords, did not hit the papers as headline stories. They were hardly mentioned. The motherhood statements of our politicians did not scream as banner stories.

News reporting can be very positive, after all. When news writers dwelt in the entire IEC week on the experiences of people who survived the test of extreme deprivation, and printed their stories on the front pages, they showed to us that with God's graces, we gain simple human achievements over the stresses of negativism. The news that I read of an abandoned girl facing the challenges of life with positive outlook and being rewarded with unexpected favors, strengthened my belief that God provides in ways we never understand.

The newspaper is, of course, a business. It has been the mentality of publishers that selling newspapers is associated with great cover stories. So, they compete in their headline stories. Sadly though, the supposed good covers are those that are sensational such that sensationalized reporting have been the obvious driving force of newspapers. Was the different kind of news reporting and presentation contained in our newspapers this past week when we had the IEC a wake up call? Will it give another perspective on how news stories are written and how people, the readers, react to them? As they say in Tagalog telenovelas, "Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!" End.

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