I’m a frustrated journalist, make no mistake about it. Thus, I can honestly say I type this piece with some envy. I once dreamed about a reporter myself, but not as Clark Kent, but as Peter Parker! But that is material for another post.
I got off on a good foundation as well, not learning through tabloids and thinly disguised editorials on TV. It was back in 3rd year high school Journalism. This was an elective subject, separate from the English we have been having for the past 2 years at the time. In our school, “elective” does not mean optional. Rather, this is that one subject per school grade that the curriculum makes students take to fill in one period. When I was in 3rd year, it was Basic Accounting and when I was in 4th year, it was Speech. The teacher was also special, as she was newly graduated. I do not know if she was idealistic or if it was her lifelong dream to teach, I have lost contact with her after graduating as she must have switched to another school, or she might have just followed other teachers and went abroad. When it was time for the subject, it was not the usual homework, lecture and seatwork plus assignment model. I must be getting old, but I found that novelty appealing. It gave me a new way to see the world, even though I did not continue to be a reporter. I still like the way I had to watch network news and not care about the content, but how the news gets made, done and served…
which gets me to the point of this article. Usually, people doing the reports are great. Like Atom Araullo or Maki Pulido, they brave real danger to bring you the news that matters. Even better when they can provide unbiased views of a certain issue that should be monitored by the the masses (an overused word by politics), more too often the stakeholders (this is a very overused word, but in corporate, not journalism) follow better than they follow Maya and Sir Chief. It used to be there was only CNN for you to get news 24-hours a day. Now you get ANC, which is still on cable, but you also get NewsTV on VHF and AksyonTV on UHF. We even get an all-news station on FM radio! But then sometimes you get these, shortcuts and booboos, dahil hindi na nakakatulog ang tagapagbalita:
1. Emotional/Emosyonal – No one cries anymore. No one gets angry, or frustrated, or broken down. They all get “emotional,” as if the victim’s mother were just reciting from rote memory and she starts to let loose when she finally finds out the dead child that had been found by the barangay captain was really theirs. (where did this scenario come from?) Come on, be a little more colorful! Lola Rapper Priscilla knows more words describing human feeling than just “emotional.”
By the way, a certain technique used by unimaginative reporters to elicit the emotional response is to ask, “How do you feel towards: your third cousin’s death/child’s rape by her favorite stuffed animal/the pitchfork swinging mob who watched your sex video?”
2. Riding in Tandem – I admit this may well be an invention of the PNP rather than the press, as when I first heard this used this was from a senior police officer (I forgot who) and some newscasters still say, angkas. But nowadays, riding in tandem this and riding in tandem that. The word is so awkward it forces the sound of bad word construction (see the envy here of not becoming a journalist? This is it in action.) uninformed by the rules of grammar and style into my eardrum. In the US, they describe it as riding shotgun, not riding in/of/by shotgun. I previously thought tandem to be the exclusive domain of words describing synchronized swimming. Now it means a modus operandi of petty crime by which two people ride on one motorcycle, with one driving and one shooting. Imagine Carl Johnson of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas described as committing crimes through riding in tandem?
By the way, I have a theory that this term is to describe criminals who commit crimes on motorbikes… while riding a tricycle, quite common as well.
3. Tagalisms – These include words in English that are used as derived “Filipino” or “Spanish” words. Common words are kaso– for legal case; inabandona– for abandoned, left; and a lot of -yon words: promosyon, relasyon, or posisyon. Funny enough, kunsumisyon does not translate to the English word, consummation. What are these for? Are these used as a prop for English speakers wondering what the verb or noun could mean? Are the news editors (not the newscasters, it is more accurate for them to be called newsreaders) too pressed for time for the next deadline to bother reaching for their Vicassan or UP Filipino Dictionary or just *gasp,* lazy?
Sadly, this is not limited to the journalistic profession. I found many Filipino textbooks back in high school and college talking about kontraktuwalisasyon, komunismo, and recipe books calling for krema. Thinking of style, and how Filipino is really used today, it is acceptable to say, “Pinagtalunan (instead of pinagdebatehan) kanina sa Senado (eh, what the hell, give them that) ang usapin ng contractualization (instead of the word pretending to be Tagalog).
Perhaps I can offer a Rule of Thumb. If it sounds good on Eat Bulaga, the Filipinos can understand it, use it. But that is material for another post.