Up until now, more than a week after, the business community still can't get enough on the merits of the Cebu outbursts of two senior assistant governors (SAG) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) with fellow economic journalists on the receiving end.
The news pains me simply because I’ve known both SAGs when I was deep into covering the banking and finance beat. I must admit they’re fiery and passionate, which goes with the position and the responsibilities, very forthright but still amiable to discuss issues, which at times for my edification only.
It saddens me because the outbursts happened before a crowd of visiting central bankers, top bank executives-analysts and no less during an international event, which was totally 360 degrees reversal to the mild-mannered demeanor I’ve known them to be.
I, too, had my share of being admonished by no less than the sitting Central Bank Governor due to the peso story I’ve written, which he opined and in his own words: “has affected the institution negatively.” This was the time when Central Bank coffers were profusely in hemorrhage condition and the authorities had no way to protect the local currency.
The press corps then was warned against writing about base money, broad money, M1, M2, M3, money multiplier but we had our way of getting these confidential statistics. And in fairness, these scolding sessions were done in the confines of the conference room of 501 and nobody hears the exchanges. That’s decency and respect for our profession.
Now back to the Cebu incidents, it’s a bit oxymoron when the lady SAG suggested, to say the least, for market players/market movers – the analysts and economists – to stay clear from journalists when the issue being discussed was the effectiveness in communicating financial stability.
It was a bit harsh to label, in a carte blanche manner, the country’s journalists’ propensity to “misinterpret or misrelay” information. I fully agree with SAG's take on “responsible communication.”
There is no such thing as overcommunication. Such depends on which side one is on. As a rottweiler journalist, I would always go for the kill. The eloquence of the source in answering queries filled with banana peelings is almost, always most desired.
But this does not necessarily mean that we twist and turn the statements of the source. The information is presented/written as factual as it is dished out but then again a comparative comment from the counter party must likewise be obtained to present a comprehensive story.
The reason why journalists in the field are called reporters is because they report what is happening, the developing stories. The presentation is factual, no sugar coating, no misinterpretation simply because this is what the stakeholders – the reading public – expect the reporters to tell.
Yes, journalists have this inherent malicious character, a skill that allows us to shift through the information and data given by the source of news. And, press releases are the basis but are not the be all and end all of our story. Interviews are needed to be able to explain the issue fully. Otherwise, reporters will only be the mouthpiece of the source.
Besides, under the present environment and because of social media, it’s easy as a breeze to get comments from economists, bank analysts and bank treasurers. More often, their reactions are already posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I will not pass judgment on why such outbursts happened. Instead, I fervently look forward to an olive branch reaching all parties concerned.
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