Covering a Story, The Mainstream Way

Conceivably, viewers have witnessed how evening television newscasts covered a developing story on a bus bombing tragedy in EDSA last January 25.

TV Patrol, 24 Oras, Aksyon and other mainstream newscasts made a spontaneous function in reporting blow by blow of events through news correspondents stationed in specific live points to cover at least three major beats (enough, to be considered a developing story): (1) latest development on the actual bomb site, (2) road traffic situationer and alternative routes, and (3) casualty rundown.

At this point, viewers/listeners may have, consciously or not, seen the “dynamic,” or should we say the “politics” of live reporting.

Reporters, as expected were in a rush to get live interviews to some of the key officials concerned in the said tragedy. These “live” interviews were intended not only to substantiate a reporter’s story but also to serve as “key informant” sources with studio anchors asking questions. It’s like hitting two birds with a stone.

At any rate, this kind of live reporting with live interviews adds credit to news networks and may actually contribute a certain degree of “news exclusivity and sensibility,” in favor of the reporter and of course, the news network in its entirety.

In such a case, we can see that the law of impenetrability works for news reporters. This law states there are no two things that can occupy the same place, at the same time.

Say, a reporter who gets the first highest key informant for an interview in a live 6:30PM newscast for Network A may declare a win over other reporters since the same highest key informant may not appear for an interview in a live 6:30PM newscast for rival Network B.

There is a sort of ‘information warfare’ happening in live reports and “keen” reporters are surely aware of it.

A reporter’s credibility is a separate story. For example, a city mayor may have the tendency to accommodate an interview first, with a famous and veteran lady reporter from Network A than with a young reporter from Network B.

In covering a developing story, reporters experience a more competitive function. The goal does not end in gathering facts and details, building a story then merely reporting it.

We shall take into account that these mainstream reporters work in a corporate system — whose aim is not only to report significantly, but to look for unique and inimitable stories with distinct angles to be able to put up the best possible fight against its rank of competitors.

But more than anything else, we as citizen-critics should go back to the many different ways that define a “meaningful coverage.” It shall be noted that a “meaningful coverage” is not defined by time or space, instead it is defined on the basis of how important or significant a piece of information has been – sufficient to influence people’s everyday lives, to make them informed and to entice them to act for a reason.

Written by Yfur Porsche P. Fernandez