The Importance of Correct Grammar in Journalism

People often argue that as long as we seem to understand each other, the observance of proper grammar is not really imperative. Some people forget or deliberately settle for incorrect grammar as long as they are able to express themselves, even in the hardest ways possible. However, misunderstandings are proven to be unavoidable when grammatical errors are proliferated.

Grammar is the foundation of communication; therefore, incorrect grammar hinders the establishment of an effective way of communication. Communication forms civilizations and it is the factor that keeps the world intact. If we fail to establish efficient communications because of bad grammars that lead to misunderstandings, we will also fail in establishing good relations with people who we think are important. In a highly competitive world, effective communication is much needed. Studies say that people who are able to communicate ideas while observing proper grammar are most likely the ones who make it in the professional realms of the industries and become successful in their own disciplines.

Good grammar is important in journalism so that journalists would convey the right messages to the public. In the field of Journalism and in all other platforms of the media industry, good communication skills are especially essential. Given that correct grammar makes communicating easier, it is strongly prioritized and observed. The job of journalists involves writing articles that would be disseminated to the public. Through these articles, journalists are able to communicate facts and important information, which the public needs in order to be aware of their environment and be able to form wise opinions and well-thought out conclusions. In this sense, as scholars would put it, the media shapes the thoughts and opinions of the public. If the public would get the wrong message out of the articles because of bad grammar, then the way people form their opinions would be intensely affected.

Confusion is avoided when proper grammar is used. When grammatical errors are committed, people might get confused about what a message is trying to convey. For example, when punctuation marks are misused and misplaced, the meaning of a single statement might become different, resulting to misunderstanding and misinformation. It is safe to say that when proper grammar is used, people would understand the message easily.

Correct grammar can also mean higher productivity. Correct grammar enables people to convey clear information and therefore saves up time, effort and energy. When you are able to express yourself clearly and immediately the first time around, you do not have to repeat yourself over and over again – you can then proceed to doing other important tasks.

Observing proper grammar when writing or reporting can also affect the way people look at you. Professionals are expected by society to be good speakers and writers. When you observe proper grammar, people normally give out a good impression on you. They may respond to you with respect or adoration at best.

Remember, good grammar is sexy.

 

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Angela Mercurio: Through the Walls of the Fourth Estate

Other people spend large amounts of money to have fun and feel alive, others simply grab pens and papers to write and harbor the same happiness — only cheaper, quite laborious, but a lot more meaningful.

With her spirited love towards writing, Angela Lorraine Celis Mercurio defines journalism as a ball of light that provides guidance to the world through truthful reportage. Journalism, not only as her profession, but also as her passion, has brought her to the position she would not trade for anything else.

After years of passion, hard work and dedication in the field of business reporting, Mercurio constantly brought home the bacon and bagged three consecutive reporter of the year awards in the Journalism Awards of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) and Ayala Group of Companies from 2013 to 2015. EJAP is the main organization of business reporters, editors, and publishers in the country.

A graduate of the Journalism program of the University of Santo Tomas in 2009, Mercurio applied for a writing career in the Malaya Business Insight, a broadsheet newspaper in the Philippines situated in Intramuros. Armed with faith and her strong drive to pursue a career in journalism, Mercurio landed a job at the Insight and is now a senior writer and reporter.

Mercurio said she is particularly interested in business reporting because of her desire to understand the economy and business in itself with its own nature.

“There is a career in business reporting. I am part of this economy and I ought to know the things happening in it. I figured that this would be my chosen field in journalism because I myself would want to understand business and market structures,” Mercurio said.

Mercurio is currently covering two main beats: macro economy and public finance. She monitors multilateral agencies like the World Bank. Agencies like the National Development and Economic Authority, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, and the Insurance Commission are also part of her beat coverage. Her regular stories report about gross domestic products, external trade, employment, national budget, and fiscal performance.

No sweat in journalism

A practicing journalism for five years, Mercurio proudly said that she has not experienced hardcore challenges in the field. She further explained that there are no real struggles in journalism once the writer is well aware of the basics. The basics include appropriate sourcing, in-depth research and having an active nose for news.

“Once you have figured your way in the industry, you will have smooth days ahead of you. Writing could be really easy when you know what you are doing and you know what you are doing it for,” Mercurio said. “When you know where to look and who to talk to, you will make it in journalism.”

Although Mercurio said journalism could be an easy task, she explained that not everyone has what it takes to become professional journalists.

“It’s easy to report news or write stories, yes, but it takes more than that to be a journalist.

A real journalist must be responsible or accountable for everything that he or she writes. A journalist must always double-check, or even triple check, his or her stories, if the details are accurate,” Mercurio argued. “There must also be balanced reporting of the news, making sure that you get both sides of the story.”

Role of technology in business reporting

 With the emergence of technology, Mercurio signified that journalism became undemanding as it evolved into something much less complicated than it was before.

As a business reporter, her job requires her to be able to delve in into a mountain of files, which are now up in the World Wide Web. Technology made everything accessible, transformed presswork into child’s play and allowed journalists to write stories faster. Editors can now edit news in their phones or personal computers without the struggle of dealing with paper trails. Newspaper layouts can be done in laptops or tablets. Through the Internet or through efficient mobile communication, research is made easier as well as information became within reach. In today’s digital age, journalism continues to flourish.

“There have been some major changes in the industry and technology plays a big role in this impetus, with news expected to be delivered as it happens. One online search, one text, one call, that’s all we really need.” Mercurio said.

Covering the APEC

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has received a lot of attention from both the traditional and mainstream media institutions. The 2015 APEC summit held in the Philippines last November 17 to 21 filled in the jam-packed “to-do-lists” of journalists most especially the ones covering in the business field.

According to Mercurio, the Philippine media coverage of the APEC had its ups and downs. Journalists failed to deviate from reporting about non-newsworthy happenings like the fashion wear displayed by the APEC leaders or the fact that Kris Aquino attended the events. She said that this distracted the audience from grasping the real essence of the APEC Summit.

“The APEC Summit becomes newsworthy because you get to hear the insights of world leaders and business tycoons. If the mainstream media diverts the attention of the public to something interesting but unsubstantial, the essence of the reportage is defeated,” Mercurio said.

Mercurio gave an emphasis on the fact that journalists are wedded with the social responsibility of helping the public form critical discourses and intellectual opinions. She challenged journalists to stay true to this responsibility and be able to produce stories of national importance and significance.

“Journalists should be able to produce substantial stories, with all the resources that are already available. There’s just no excuse for journalists nowadays to make weak stories. People count on journalists for credible reportage — let us give them credible reportage.” Mercurio said.

On a more personal note, Mercurio claimed that covering major events like the APEC summit is seesawing between boring and exciting. She said that major events usually appear to be predictable and dragging. However, the historical factor of the events let her see their enjoyable side.

According to Mercurio, journalists are not allowed to conduct ambush interviews and are often situated in media centers. She said that APEC meetings are non-binding and there are only few earth shaking and market-moving reports.

“Major events, such as the APEC Summit, can be quite boring. We often get motherhood statements during press conferences, and the discussions in the APEC meetings are non-binding and are merely guidelines for its member economies,” Mercurio said.

Mercurio has covered APEC meetings in Cebu, Bacolod, Bataan, Iloilo, and Tagaytay.

Survival of the 4th estate

As a reporter in the second most dangerous country for journalists, Mercurio does not feel threatened about her safety and security. She said that although the lives of journalists in the Philippines are put at risks from time to time, they are able to work freely amidst all external and internal factors that try to silence the truth tellers.

“There is enough press freedom in the Philippines, especially when compared to other countries. Yes, Philippine journalists encounter challenges from time to time, and at times, reporters’ lives are put at risk. It is tough especially for those covering national issues, and there are those who would do everything to silence our voices, such as what happened in Maguindanao. But generally, I think journalists in the Philippines are able to work freely,” Mercurio said.

According to Mercurio, Philippine journalism will survive as long as there are brave souls who have passion in exposing the truth and critical thinkers who are willing to write unbiased stories, regardless of the circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journalism: The Avenue of Expression

Journalism changed and evolved in the country over time considering the wide scale build up of industries over the regions of the world has been eminent. The medium Journalism is practiced also transformed: oral communication to written information down to the development of print media to redefined electronic media and finally to the present day convergence wherein every medium co-exists.

What is Journalism? As the oxford dictionary defines it, Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television. It is a way of disseminating valuable information to institute a well-informed public. It aims to vanquish ignorance through making people aware with the current happenings inside and outside the country.

With the practice of Journalism comes the fragile notion of the freedom to express. Everyone having the right to freedom of expression got everyone confused about what Journalism really is. Now that technology has offered numerous platforms open for anyone to speak up, everyone seems to be considered as “journalists”.

The definition and purpose of Journalism also evolved. “Quality Journalism is under threat”. Some do not consider it to be a profession anymore because others are able to exercise it freely. Anyone who has access to the Internet can publish their side of the stories for different purposes: some publish for fame, others for their own biased agendas and there are still those who stick to the purpose of communicating the truth to the public.

Before the age of modernity and the milestones that technology reached, Journalism was limited to those who are able to write news stories and published them on newspapers. The country already had newspapers during the Spanish regime, which were black propagandas Filipinos used against the Spaniards. This continued on through the American and Japanese occupation in the country, but with the addition of the radio and television. Journalism was used as an influential tool to help free the country from the colonizers. It awakened the Filipinos to form upheavals making it a powerful manifestation of nationalism. During the People Power Revolution and EDSA dos, Journalism played an important role too. The late president Ferdinand Marcos through the establishment of Martial Law even recognized the threat Journalism brought that is why newspapers, except for those under the president, were banned from publishing.

The propagandistic form of Journalism is still visible. Now, it is not limited in traditional print and broadcast media, but widely conveyed in the Internet.

There also came a time when Journalism was monopolized. The same business tycoons owned the broadcasting companies and publications. Somehow, this is still thriving, but not as much as before.

Information travels faster today and anyone is able to publish information online through online publications like blogs, facebook posts or tweets making Journalism look like an easy task. What’s separating the so-called semi-profession Journalism from the mere freedom of expression is the content people publish. In the content, it is where credibility is found.

JRN 104: The Value of News and the Road to Excellence

Back in grade school, a crew from a national media corporation put up tents in our town so they could feature the municipality I lived in. All the members of the crew looked occupied with their equipments and a pretty lady all dressed up was in front of the camera as the people gathered around during the coverage. I knew back then that I wanted to be a reporter – become a journalist and involve myself in the process of information dissemination. I have been to a lot of conferences and seminars and joined numerous media organizations. When I got into college, I immediately joined the official publication of the University. I thought news writing was an easy task — that when you know the facts, you can be a news writer so effortlessly, but news writing was more complex than that.

This news-writing course helped me understand journalism better as an integral part of society and enlivened my passion for writing further. The things I knew about writing news and reporting it were enhanced and I am now equipped with more knowledge that I will be able to use in the future.

Fact gathering is one of the basics when you are inclined in the news department. However, I have learned that news writing has a purpose that transcends far more than just presenting the facts. After gathering the facts, news writers and reporters are expected to weave something out of the facts to communicate information to the public — present the facts in a way that will help the audience form wise decisions and intellectual discourses. Inserting the right context in news stories is essential after all. News writing and reporting are both crucial activities because people expect a lot from writers. After all the lessons and discussions, I have learned that there are certain rules and guidelines that need to be observed. Simply announcing the facts is not news writing or reporting. There are forms, kinds and structures. News writing and reporting can be easy if one knows the basics, when one knows where to look for news, who to look for and who to talk to for sources.

Another is the incorporation of objectivity in news writing and reporting. Journalists are expected to not be blindly partisan. Journalists are and should be free of bias in every situation to be able to let the public decide for themselves and to not give off the idea that journalists are trying to dictate the decisions and opinions of the public. There are no room for mistakes, false information and biases. Balance is always imperative.

News is the basic component of the newspaper. Without news, the essence of the newspaper is defeated especially when all people want to read about are the comics or the daily horoscope. This class helped me appreciate news more and made be want to pursue journalism more despite the profession being a risky one. Through reading the banner story every meeting, it became a habit of mine to make sure that I read the news everyday. As an aspiring journalist, this news writing course serve as one of my stepping stones in becoming one of the competitive individuals in the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder of the Heralds: Journalism As A Deadly Profession

 

Journalism, naturally inclined to truthful and critical reportage, is one of the riskiest and most hazardous jobs existing. Reporting for the truth does not always entail admiration from the people and the consequences it assumes are more often than not, are crucial and deadly. Not everyone gives off a positive outlook towards truthful reportage. Some people, for their own personal reasons, do not want the truth to reek. Journalists eat and forcefully swallow threats for breakfast and for all the other meals for having published exposes about malicious crimes and sensitive issues. Hard-hitting journalists who often make reproving political commentaries, expose wrongdoings and criticize officials are the ones who get murdered. According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI), journalists die through shootings, explosions, stabbings and beatings, under torture or by strangulation. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) even declared that one journalist is killed every week on average around the world. Sadly, the lives of journalists, having the appetite for veritable stories, are put in grave danger.

The Philippines, currently ranked second after Iraq and before Syria, is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to pursue their careers. The Philippines is not even a war zone like Iraq and Syria, yet, many journalists die because of politically motivated reasons. Journalists who become active on political commentaries are being targeted and dispatched. In 2009, the most heartbreaking incident involving the death of media practitioners happened in Maguindanao. Known as the “Maguindanao Massacre “ around the world, the Philippines was officially declared as a dangerous territory for the members of the forth state. Dirty politics in the Philippines has cost the country so much, ranging from money to innocent, precious lives. These extrajudicial killings have put journalists in a position where fear cannot be escaped. Emotional distress and constant haunting are experienced by journalists and aspiring journalists. A life lived in fear is a life not lived. This is enough reason to allow journalists to do something to protect themselves from impending harms.

According to a CNN news report, the Philippines is putting efforts to end this “pervasive culture”. A legal “super body” is being set up to aim at expediting the investigation and prosecution of the widely reported extrajudicial killings, which are not limited to journalists. However, not all the time that all killings are given justice. Most of the time, justice is not served.

In 2005, Philippine journalists with gun licenses were to carry guns outside their homes once they prove their lives are threatened.

The clamor that journalists be allowed to carry firearms is rising and being intensified. It is only sad to think how people who do their jobs in service of others are put in a lot of fear and frustration. A pen should be the greatest weapon a journalist needs, but somehow this is about to change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensationalism: Dumbing Down Journalism

One of the reasons behind the de-professionalization of Journalism is the prevalence of sensationalism, which is dangerously thriving from the media coverage and reportage of sports, political, celebrity and even crime news.

Sensationalism refers to the exaggeration of news stories to interest the public even at the expense of accuracy and credibility. Due to the fact that people get information everywhere including the Internet and from many other sources, journalists feel the need to do something to win over so many competitions. Journalists cling to sensationalism because they think that it would gain readership and public interest that would later ensue to mass circulation of news stories. With the public hooked on a sensationalized story, it would mean profit and survival for the journalist.

The catch of sensationalism is that it is defeating the entire purpose of journalism. According to Joseph Pulitzer, founder of the Columbia School of Journalism, journalists should abide by the rules of accuracy and truthfulness. With sensationalism, both rules are penetrated. Journalism aims to liberate the public from ignorance through credible reportage. However, because of the need of journalists to compete against others, they simply turn to sensationalism and value profitability over credibility. Scholars often regard journalism as one of the most respected professions, now the tables have turned.  Scholars blame sensationalism for the emergence of a trashy culture, claiming that sensationalism corrupts the minds of the readers and prevents anyone from learning anything. Having stated these, journalists fail their audience, themselves and their profession.

For journalists to be able to avoid the temptations of sensationalizing news, they should constantly remind themselves their real purpose of being able to report the truth and not only half of the truth. When one knows his purpose, he should be able to do his duty correctly.

Being objective is another way of emerging victorious over sensationalism. Objectivity or reporting with complete balance, justice and fairness, is an integral part of credible journalism. Gaye Tuchman, in his journal “Objectivity as Strategic Ritual”, wrote four rituals for a journalist to be objective: presentation of conflicting possibilities to claim to truth, presentation of supporting evidences, use of judicious quotation marks and structuring information in an appropriate sequence.

Journalism may be suffering now because of commercialization and the emergence of many other news sources. However, sensationalism is not helping the profession survive, rather, it is only contributing to the dumbing down of journalism. Journalists must be able to fight it and uphold its purpose through ethical reporting and news coverage.

 

THE STORIES TOLD

Daily newspapers often have the same banner stories. What is there to find when you delve into the inside pages of the newspaper, they have the same recurring contents. The possibility of having to read the same stories from the biggest newspapers in town and even the tabloids in the same day is high. Newspapermen cover the same big events all the time as news companies send people to cover major events. Newsmen seem to compete with one another and therefore are deemed to face the challenge of writing better articles than the other news writers.

Even though news writers cover and write the same stories, the moment the stories are published, they are written and told in different manners. Let us take for account the top three newspaper broadsheets in the country namely the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin. For example last September 17 — the day when Senator Chiz Escudero proclaimed his political plans for 2016. Particularly, he announced that he would be running as Senator Grace Poe’s Vide-President in the national elections. All three broadsheets wrote about this, but had different angles. Inquirer had “We’re running under Partido Pilipinas”, Bulletin had “Chiz: We can’t have a slow gov’t” and Star had “Chiz accepts Poe’s challenge to be 2016 running mate”. Bulletin made this the banner story while Inquirer and Star had the issue on the SAF44 as their banner stories, but the Chiz story made it to the front page.

Same event, different ways of story telling — this is because the writers have chosen different angles on writing the news. Writers have the decision to pick which side of the story to write and what to consider important. They have the power to choose what facts go in the story and what details to leave out of it. What goes first and what comes last also lies in the hands of the writer. It is a matter of selecting the appropriate and perfect angle that would appeal to the audience and attract readership.

One of the contemporary mass communication theories tackles this angling part of writing news. McCombs and Shaw (1972) tackled this in their journal titled “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media.” In agenda setting, there is what we call Framing and Priming. Framing refers to the angling of news stories. This is the part where the writer decides on how to present and tell the news to the audience. Priming on the other hand refers to the prioritization of what comes in the front page and what comes in the inside pages. The writer here decides what to put first and what to

In addition, news stories vary in the way they are told because of the availability of resources for the news writers. Sometimes, one writer has more sources than the others that is why he is able to produce a better story of the event. Also, the variation of the stories can depend on how the writers interpreted the stories.