Observations: Covering a festival – Bukidnon style
Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri’s spokesperson Cesar Apao spoke to the media Monday to give a briefing on Kaamulan 2007 coverage.|
Mr. Apao announced measures to ensure local media will not be sidelined by “arrogant” reporters and photograhers from the national media, who are expected to come to the month-long fest.
He announced the construction of a provincial media action center, which will be venue for coordination of the coverage. Apao appealed for cooperation from station managers, editors, and reporters during the briefing.
Just like in last year’s coverage, the Capitol’s Public Affairs and Information Assistance office imposed a “no I.D., no coverage” policy. Mr. Apao said this will ensure orderly and fair coverage of the annual festival.
He cited the success of last year’s effort because of “no comments and no unlikely actions from the media”. He also stressed during the meeting that they are closely coordinating with the police to see to it the policy is enforced.
However, he assured that even if only five media outlets daily are asked to man the media center during run up activities, it will be a full house on the two days of the fest highlights during the streetdancing on March 3 and the province’s foundation day on March 10.
He also announced they will provide food to the media in those two days.
His announcement was met with request for clarifications even if the spokesperson assured he is doing it to prioritize the local media.
While his representation at the Philippine Information Agency’s office in Malaybalay was cordial, in many occasions, however, he appeared to be imposing.
In many instances he pointed to media personalities to “suggest” they will take charge of a certain task while saying “I hope he/she will not turn me down”.
His commanding presence showed an attempt to organize the Bukidnon media, especially with the possibility of exposure to national and international visitors. On the other hand, it could also be viewed as an attempt to control the local media harping on the need for order.
Leaders of media organizations present, however, were reacting to Apao in a civil manner. Apao is a trusted point man of the governor.
He recognized the well-organized Kapisanan ng mga Brokaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) Bukidnon Chapter and singled-out the disorganized Bukidnon Press Club. BPC president Nestor Ponteras, who held on to power since 2002, and has never succeeded in calling for elections, was not present.
Mr. Apao’s presence appeared to have encouraged the media organizations present. But he was quick to ask them to spare the provincial government of ad contracts due to budget constraints. Contracts for festival messages from the governor are traditional sources of income for Bukidnon’s media practitioners, majority of whom have to raise their income by working on editorial and commercial duties side by side. Only about 10 percent of journalists or media practitioners in Bukidnon receive a regular pay, based on a 2004 survey.
I really wonder how this set up affects coverage of the Kaamulan festival or the rest of Bukidnon after Kaamulan, esp. at the heels of an election fest as well.
I just do hope the local media will be resilient and will cling on to their strugge to independently cover good governance in the province, which the Zubiri administration has pledged to adhere to.
Mr. Apao’s meeting with the press, in line with this optimism, should also be given the benefit of the doubt. He showed his eagerness to serve and that was evident. In the meeting they serve snacks and lunch before a tour to the site.
Istambay sa Mindanaw wishes the organizers of Kaamulan 2007 and the the journalists covering it, too, for success.