Monday ∗ 18 Oct 2010

a resigned Ressa, a resigned us

why ABS-CBN? why would any network, in fact, let Maria Ressa go? it barely makes sense, if we know of her and her news and current affairs management and the ways she’s changed the news as we see it. and no, I don’t buy that whole refusal-to-renew-the-contract story, because really you can beg/ plead/ grovel to keep someone on your side,  especially when they’ve done so well, have outdone too many, in fact.

and this Maria has done for ABSCBN, allowing for ANC on Channel 27 to be the one and only reason we are still on Lopez-owned HomeCable even when they continue to provide horrible service especially since they forced subscribers to shift to the digiboxes. her management has single-handedly raised the bar for current affairs shows allowing for something as creative as Storyline to be on air, and bringing back the talk show that ain’t showbiz. of course all these have been on ANC, a cable news channel, but  at least for those of us who can afford cable, there’s a better alternative to news that happens so late in the evening because of the stretch of soap operas (beginning at 7PM and ending at 11:30PM).

and if you don’t agree with any of these, or just don’t have ANC (good for you for refusing the cultural empire of the Lopezes), then at least under Maria’s leadership, local channels have again started to do live broadcasts of senate hearings and such, because ANC was doing it.

this is not to agree with Maria’s management decisions all the time, nor is it to absolve ABSCBN (or any other network for that matter) from responsibility in the Manila hostage tragedy. in fact, I didn’t like that her Wall Street Journal article appeared so soon after the tragedy, adding salt to the wound, if not cutting deeper into it.

BUT I appreciate Maria’s chutzpah, her daring, even when faced with the probability of a collective disgust, or just a critical reader. I remember on Twitter soon after the hostage tragedy, her timeline was riddled with angry followers asking her in so many words what was she thinking!?! I thought Maria handled it with much grace and control, responding when she needed to, when it was a new question that she had yet to answer, and ignoring the redundant and the rhetorically angry.

this also isn’t to say that this was all good, or that we agreed all the time with the way the news was delivered/chosen/spun by ABS-CBN under Maria’s watch. this is to say that in truth there were such real and palpable and concrete changes in news and current affairs, and in which case, there were also better conversations about politics, and more creative documentaries about this country.

of course there’s still i-witness on GMA 7 which is still the best local docu-show I continue to see, and there still is Cheche Lazaro Presents on ABSCBN, whose Vizconde Massacre feature last night was just wonderfully done. but really, where else would Storyline see the light of day, or Strictly Politics, or Media in Focus? this doesn’t mean that we don’t complain about these shows, or that they are always without fault, or are always intelligently done. but this is to say that these are wonderful testaments to what can still happen for local news and current affairs, that we need not be stuck on CNN and BBC for better versions of the local.

in fact, under Maria’s watch, I remembered how I grew up with Randy David and Louie Beltran having their regular political and public affairs shows. yes, this was the time of public affairs versus current affairs, the time when relevance was still most important, versus just being news worthy. but that would be stuff for another blog entry.

here and now the question remains: but why? why let Maria Ressa go, what’s the real score here? though maybe we should be happy enough with, uh, tsismis being infinitely more interesting, even when – or maybe precisely because – it’s in relation to news and current affairs.

and as far as ABSCBN’s concerned?  I don’t think they fool anyone anymore given that the network’s the flagship of a Lopez empire. If anything, it has also become obvious that while they demand that politicians and government be transparent, they can only be farthest from being so themselves. now, in light of their maltreatment of workers finally becoming newsworthy, well, it’s easy to see how Maria’s notions of fairness and justice might not have worked in her favor after all.

so maybe she didn’t resign as damage control would like to point out, but this does feel like resignation, in the i-concede-my-hands-are-up kind of way. and Maria may deny it, but the rest of us can’t: the times when someone like her decides that it’s time to let go, it’s those times that we are forced to concede to the way things are or will inevitably become.

and for some reason, i have a sinking feeling that Maria’s leaving will mean having Kris Aquino back on TV, in what i imagine will be that past-publicized current affairs show. sana ‘wag na lang.

Posted in: bayan, kapitalista, komentaryo, media, pulitika

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