Friday, February 15, 2008

A 2 cents guide to would be reporters, Part II

To continue. In this business, it really takes guts, it really takes an open mind to see thru people. And most of all, one should take care of their integrity.

8. Be pleasant. Make all talk. Be humble
. After all, you don’t know everything, A you need help, or you wouldn’t be there. And you should try to be sympathetic, when it’s merited. Try to be a friend - but always remember you are a reporter.

Don't be judgemental. Whatever your source says and if you don't agree with it, look for other sources that may jive with your own opinion, but remember just keep this to yourself. You don't have to be vocal about your own opinion. Stick to being a journalist.

9. Remember the obvious question: That’s not as easy at its sounds. You can get caught up in the small talk, the story-telling, the new angles, the listening, the good humor and charm of source. But remember what you came for. Identify the questions before you go in, and keep working on it, keep asking. If people ignore or evade your key questions, or lead you down another trail, you have to come back. Reword your question, rephrase it ask it in different ways, as many times as you must until you do have an answer that’s understandable believable.

Normally, when you are in a press conference, when you keep things as comfortable as possible, everybody tends to relax and lay back a bit. Don't get caught up with that, especially if you are talking about an issue or an exciting sports event and people would really want to hear the real scoop. Really listen and read thru the angles. The person in the podium might say some words that might mean something.

10. Challenge your sources. Contradict them a little. Don’t accept the easy explanation. Say you don’t understand, say it doesn’t make sense from what you know from other people. Ask them, "How can you be certain?" Let them prove it to you - with more details, other names, any documents.

Contradict just a little. Remember you are not them and you are trying to understand their situation. In sports, winning and losing have different emotions so you better be sensitive to the moment.

ll. Never trust your source, at least not completely. Double - check. Look not only for corroboration, but also for contradictions, for evidence to the contrary. Not even your best source has a perfect memory.

This is absolutely true. Sometimes the very main source will mislead you or give you a made up story, maybe to test your trust factor. But in any case, make sure that you get clarify and confirm if the story is true or you will end up in a lot of trouble. This happened to me actually when my trusted source told me a wild and sad story about his franchise player, though I suspected it not to be true coz I see and talk to him most of the time during games and practice, still I didn't not get the keyboard out and type the story. As it turned out, it wasn't true.

12. Don’t socialize with reporters all the time. Socialize with people whose stories have not already been print. Remember all the friends you ever met. Sometimes the person you once dated in college will grow up to be a top official of the Justice Department. Never underestimate any one as a potential source.

Bottomline is, always be nice to people each day. It really pays to be nice.

13. If you want to protect your sources, don’t tell anyone, particularly your fellow reporters who are (with the exception of you) the worst blabbermouths in the world. If you want a sensitive source to talk with you, he or she has to decide whether to trust you. And your word must be golden. A bad reputation will quickly ruin even the best reporter.

If you hear another story, let's say by accident, from someone other than your source, it's great to hear them, fine. That's their prerogative. Just do not tell them that you have something. It's not you don't want to share or anything, it's just a matter of courtesy to your source that he told you something. They talked to you.

14. You set the rules, and you clarify the terms on which you’re talking. If this is background, or not-for-attribution, make certain you and the source have same definitions of that, and recognize that the information will be used. It’s up to you to avoid misunderstanding. Spell out the terms, if necessary, at the outset so you both understand them. Don’t take off-the-record information — that’s unusable in any form, and let your sources know that. Most of them want to tell you something anyway, and will do so, at the least, on a background basis that allows you to pursue confirmation elsewhere. Don’t let the source change the rules at the end of the evening. Your job is to tell stories to the public, not to your grandchildren someday.

It sounds, looks simple to set the tone especially if its a sensitive issue. You can arm yourself with a questionnaire if you want, my advice is to keep it as simple as possible and make your source some more.

15. Give your worst enemy a fair shake. Always give someone his or her best defense in the printed story. Even if you don’t believe it, let the readers have a chance to judge for themselves. You may earn the person’s respect. He or she may even tell you the full story later on.

Definitely, you will hear varying opinions about a certain issue. This happened to me when i heard both sides talk about their stand on a player eligibility issue. The player came from the same school that I went to but as a reporter/columnist, you should learn how to detach yourself from your loyalty to your alma mater or institution and give your best presentation on the matter as possible. Let public opinion stand out.

16. Be cruel. This is the unwritten rule. When all is done but not yet said - let the facts fall where they may. You have no friend now. You are a reporter – tell the truth. But don’t pass judgment on people unnecessarily. You’re a reporter, not GOD. Let the people’s deeds speak for themselves.

Just present the facts and if you have some emotional attachments to the people surrounding the story, don't let it get in the way.

17. Always say thank you at the end of the day. Go back when the story is over and say thank you again. Say thank you to sources even when nothing is happening. An honest thank you is as rare and as encouraging as a good listener.

You don't have to send them a gift either. Just do your job and be a responsible journalist.

18. Keep trying. Keep working. It is the drudgery of making sure of details that uncovers the unexpected. A sage of this profession has said, "I’ve met a lot of lucky reporters. I’ve never known a single lazy lucky reporter."

In this line of work, there are no shortcuts. If you think you are not successful, be patient, your time will come.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A 2 cents guide to would be reporters, Part I

I myself is a graduate of the Center for Sportscommunication or CSC, batch 8. Among my classmates were NCAA Courtside reporter Pia Boren, Solar Courtside Mica Abesamis and ABS-CBN Reporter Gretchen Malalad.

I was among them that made an entry into this industry by being a Basketball Analyst for the Global Destiny Basketball League, the National Basketball Conference (NBC), and the 2005 edtition of the Collegiate Champions League (CCL). It was an experience to work with such pros like Noel Zarate, Boyet Sison, Coach Jude Roque, Coach Aboy Castro, Coach Luigi Trillo, and many many more.

Now, I have ventured into the new media business - the Internet. And have co-created, dedicated to Philippine College Basketball, with great personalities like Kim Lesaca, Charlie Cuna, Tony Atayde, Chris Soler, Josef Ramos and Coach Jude Roque. We had our occassional bumps on the road but we managed to pull thru.

I know a lot of coaches in College Basketball. We talk a lot about the game and about the stars and sites. And since we talk, we share some information that somehow might affect thier careers and most of all my relationship with them.

When I assisted Noel Zarate and Coach Jude during the 1st Sportscasting workshop held in San Beda College in Mendiola, I was able to pick up this document from Bill Velasco and he discussed about research and production. It's the SOURCERY - A GUIDE TO REPORTERS.

The arcane art of getting people to tell you the truth:

l. Ask for help. If you ask people to tell you everything they know, that is a precious possession not readilv surrendered.

But people like to be asked for their help. Ask them to help you understand what is happening. That is what you want, isn’t it? You’re a little confused and lost, and you need help in figuring things out. In helping you, people just may tell you what they know.

2. Be prepared. Know what you’re talking about. Know what they’re talking about. Study the subject- and the terminology of the topic. Know what your questions are. Know what the answers could be. Don’t parade your knowledge. But use it to prompt discussion and replies.

Most coaches are very accommodating and they will understand if you tell them to take it easy on the terms.

3. Listen. Shut up and listen. A good reporter is a good listener. You shouldn’t be trying to tell people everything you know. You want to get what they know. Sometimes the best questions are "Uh-huh", "Why?", "How?", "What do you mean‘?" and "I don’t understand? The short question which keep people talking, while you keep listening.

Please do take this point seriously. To get your source their attention, you must attentively listen so you can get their trust. Trust is one of the most important commodity in this business so you have to build that relationship with your source.

4. Be honest. You want your sources to be honest with you, don’t you? Be honest with them, if you want to build mutual trust. That doesn’t mean putting everything out on a platter before the first question. But do try to be candid, rather than coy. If you’re working on a story, say so. Make people part of the way into your confidence. Maybe they will do the same for you.

5. Talk to everyone. There is no formula for finding sources. Figure out everyone who might know something about what you’re looking for. Talk to them all. Keep asking. Go back and forth. You may find a piece here, a piece there. Getting stories is akin to assembling puzzles — without knowing how many pieces there are or what the final picture may look like.

Make sure that when you put your story together, the pieces fit together. Be careful on the crumbs, they might lead you to the wrong ginger bread house.

6. See people face—to-face. You can’t look a telephone in the eye. And if you’re in someone’s office or living room, they can’t hang-up or put you on hold to call back another time when they won’t be in. In fact, few people know how to throw you out gracefully. So stay, and try to keep asking questions. Walk into an office two minutes after quitting time, when the secretary has gone but the boss with all the work to do is still there — and has no more appointments or ringing phones to interrupt him or her that hour. Show up unexpectedly. Often people will see you to find out what you want.

I always tell reporter this. To find the time to go to team practices. Observe them, learn the game, empathize with the players and just build a relationship. Believe me you will have a learning experience about the game and about hardwork and dedication.

7. Go back. Go back again and again. Keep knocking on doors. You may feel foolish, but be polite and persist. Keep asking for help. It may seem hard to ask questions when you may feel foolish, but remember one rule: the only way you’re certain of never getting the answer is to be too embarrassed to ask the question. One reporter’s axiom: "There aren’t any embarrassing questions - just embarrassing answers."

When you ask a player particularly a coach, please do make an effort to ask politely. Not like you are pointing a gun or a knife on your potential source. You have to make them feel comfortable with you. Some reporters are not sensitive to this and they just end up like a mosquito ready to suck blood from their victims. And you know how mosquitos can be annoying right?

To be continued........

Monday, February 4, 2008

San Beda College hosts 1st Sportscasting Workshop

Only 40 sportscasters are currently working in this small, fraternal world of Philippine Sports. That's according to Noel Zarate, veteran anchorman and sportscaster who has covered many sports events other than basketball.

Together with ABS-CBN NCAA Anchor and Analyst Coach Jude Roque, both have organized a workshop that will give aspiring sportscasters a chance to prepare and organize for any auditions ahead. It can also be a grassroots program to search for that rare talent, a fresh face, a fresh voice for the airwaves to carry the highlights of the ultimate reality show that is sports.

San Beda College embraced the first opportunity and sponsored the workshop to 15 ambitious men and women willing to go thru the rigourous drills to see if they have what it takes to be – a bonafide sportscaster.

Bill Velasco took center stage on the 1st day (Feb 1, 2008) of the workshop with a barage of information about being a sporscaster, trivial stuff sports, research, and production. Noel Zarate followed with a personality exercise to determine which tribe in that quadrant he drew on the whiteboard you belong. Sounds like a fun 1st day doesn't it?

Moving along the workshop for its 2nd day, Lia Cruz and George Rocha -------- Chu spearheaded the morning with a topic dedicated to being a courtside reporter. Lia and George took turns in explaining the road map and roadblocks of being the face that will hopefully light up the screen. But once your in, Lia and George also informed the participants about the challenges that a regular courtside reporter will encounter during and after a game.

Norman Black and Coach Ronnie Magsanoc graced the workshop with some sound advice and inspiration for them wanna be sportscasters.

Then, in the afternoon, Sev Sarmenta gracefully sat on a chair in the middle of the room to give his theatrical spiel of being the ring leader - the anchorman. Coach Jude Roque and Hardball's Boyet Sison (better known to our circle as Papa B.) had a dual partnership in discussing the role of a color commentator or popularly known in the Philippine sportscasting industry as the game analyst.

The third day it was all business. It's game time for these participants. Excitement filled the air cooled room because they will now have a chance to apply what they got from the veteran core of speakers to a small device but very intimidating presence of the sportscasters' best friend – the Camera.

Make up and outfit preparation lessons, lunch and the main course, the interview drills - were another long time courtside reporter Rheena Villamor had the final say on their performance - were the agenda for the long 3rd day.

And then, finally, it graduation, and they are: Chip Lopez, Jen Gan, Marz Fernandez, Paolo Bringas, Jenny Buenaentura, Madelle Ramos, Lemuel Africa, Rufino Lopez III, Martin Antonio, J.P. Lopez, Catherine Grafil, Chill Torralba, Jover Padilla, Edgar Allan Ayento, Stephen Que, and Thea Rosal.

More photos here:

Next Stop will be San Beda Alabang.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From IloIlo City to Makati City - PatPat's Kansi

If your working in the Makati Central Business District and you just want to get out of the office, drive and settle down in a place were you can indulge in a great bowl of bulalo and grilled seafood, there is a place in the Barangay San Antonio area in Makati City that's really worth the trip.

From Iloilo City to Makati comes PatPat's Kansi or just plain, Kansi. There Bulalo is different from the ones we Manilenos are familiar with. The Ilongo Bulalo soup is a bit sour and has less fat that an usual Bulalo we know. For PhP85.00, you can order the all-meat version, so non of that bone mess.

The Grilled Boneless Bangus and Grilled Pusit (squid) with grilled tomatoes and onions are fantastic must tries. Priced at PhP135.00 and PhP175.00 respectively, both orders are for sharing and for sure, you will ask for more rice.

The Bangus and Pusit were carefully seasoned without the assist of marinades and grilled to achieve that tender, natural taste of real fresh seafood.

Kansi is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 10AM until 10PM and is located along Sampaloc St. near Kamagong St., in Makati City, Philippines.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Want nice Steaks, Chops and Deli Sandwiches in a Cabin?

After for steaks, sausages, pastas, deli sandwiches for the lunch hour? This my personal favorite – Hunter's Deli located at the Mile Long arcade in Makati City. Been eating here since the early 90's. It's a small, quiet place really good for talking, problem is, people can easily hear you.

The place is like being in a cabin, with wooden plates and hunting eating utensils to match the wooden furniture. It has a small bar to accommodate you favorite drink from soda, shakes, fresh fruit juices in season to beer and other alcoholic beverages like tequila.

The must try the lamb chops marinated with their unique blend of herbs and spices with a little sweet minty taste served with rice and vegetables on the side. Also try the Mexican pasta, unless you want something spicy for lunch. You can also spend the happy hours on the way to a wholesome dinner engagement. Service, price, ambiance, food, overall I give this an OK rating.