Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"The spirit is to just jump in and make it work."

A few days after one of her writers was arrested, and a couple of days after posting bail for a warrant for her own arrest filed by crook-turned-politician (and really still a crook) Chavit Singson, Marites Vitug received a text message from yours truly, asking if we could take pictures of Newsbreak’s last issue to use for the layout of the cover story I wrote.

I had interviewed Ms. Vitug, Newsbreak’s editor-in-chief, a couple of weeks before at their offices in Ortigas. No, there weren’t warrants for her arrest then, but she had the First Gentleman up her ass (as well as the asses of many of her fellow editors and writers) because of an article they ran about more of his alleged shenanigans.

I imagine hers to be a stressful position, and I’d like to think that being interviewed by a campus journalist about stuff she loves to talk about (news, marketing, multi-platform media outlets, ethical concerns, journalistic responsibility, etc.) served as somewhat of a break for her.

I found Ms. Vitug to be a warm person, and I write in my piece about how “unassuming” she is. I had spent the week before reading up on her and the magazine, and it was mostly stuff about being “gutsy” and “hardnosed.” She was an award-winning journalist with a reputation for being able to dig out dirt about powerful persons, and doing so fearlessly.

Indeed, this could very well explain her pleasant mood during the interview. Frankly, she’s been through worse, has been drilled by harder questions, by persons, perhaps, who might have not even cared about her answers.

For a half-hour or so, she entertained my inquiries openly, answered them thoroughly, in between bites of her merienda of some sort of pastry. She was uninhibited in the calmest of ways.

For someone so accomplished, Ms. Vitug was all but ready to admit the inadequacies of Newsbreak and where they needed to improve when they return to print within this year.

A month or so removed from the announcement of Newsbreak’s leave from printing and the launch of their revamped website as a means to continue what they do, I was expecting bitterness in tone. But Ms. Vitug appeared optimistic, saying that this was all part of the necessary expansion for a news outlet like theirs.

“The spirit is to just jump in and make it work.”

It’s my favorite quote from the interview. It captured where Ms. Vitug and Newsbreak are right now. It encapsulates the youthful excitement of a 30-year veteran, whose job as editor-in-chief hasn’t changed, really.

We can go on and on about cyberspace, blogging, podcasts, and the like. But in the heart of everything is still the desire to tell the story that needs to be told, the courage to uncover truths that affect a people in a nation with a history of deceit (especially among its leaders).

Those things haven’t changed. It looks like they won’t be changing any time soon.
*To read my piece on Newsbreak, get a copy of KATIPUNAN's March 2007 issue.
Also in this issue:
Mina Reyes investigates the recent Ateneo Sanggunian elections where the choice to abstain outnumbered the votes garnered by actual candidates.
Reyes also speaks with Leland dela Cruz, director of the Development Studies Program, about new ways of engraining social involvement within the Ateneo Community.
Aga Dela Torre writes about the renaissance of Ilog Pasig with a ferry transport system, and explores the bayanihan spirit displayed by the local automotive industry and the Philippine Utility Vehicle.
April Sescon reviews ENTABLADO's rendition of Rene O. Villanueva's Sandaang Panaginip, and co-writes with Sasha Martinez a piece on the recent “Chromatext” exhibit at the CCP and the “return” of PLAC (Philippine Literary Arts Council), led by founders Gemino Abad and Alfred Yuson, and a group of younger writer/poets who look to carry on the tradition.
Sasha and Dani De Castro review the recent run of Disney favorite and movie-turned-stage production, High School Musical, starring Karel Marquez and Shark Alonzo.
And finally, Mari Colinares explores off-campus housing for students in the Katipunan area.
**Accepting orders at (Php50/copy).


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