Friday, December 28, 2007

On Being a Bearer of Shocking News

Last Sunday, I had to break two tragic news to people who should have known of the incidents before I did. At about 2 pm, I called up Mountain Province Gov. Maximo Dalog to get his reaction about the amush of Paracelis Mayor Cesar Rafael. Then later, I had to convey to Abra Gov. Kit Bersamin that the house of Cong. Luna was bombed. Dalog was shocked. I can imagine him raising his eyebrow. My introduction to hiim was, "Merry Xmas, Gob. Did you hear about the news..." Silence. The cellphone meter was ticking. "I didn't know that, ah. Why wasn't I informed?" he said. Then he has to be my legman for the story. With Bersamin, he was at the airport, seeing off his children and apos back to the U.S. With Kit, it was silence and more silence. Then, "I'm here in Manila. Tell me what happened."
These situations are hard for journalists because you would be catching your sources in an awkward moment. They would be in a situation when they can't give you the soundbites you need. Most of those you see on TV are orchestrated. The cumbersome setting-up of the crew and lighting and sounds and the introduction would erase the novelty.
Unless you are like that guy who went to the scene of the collapse of a building in Cabanatuan during the earthquake and then was confronted by a victim trapped between concrete slabs. All the poor TV guy can ask was, "How does it feel?"
Surprising sources about shocking news would only say that they are not in any way connected with the tragedy. And we are not even sure about that either. Maybe you can write, "the governor was shocked upon hearing the news" but we're not really certain. The interview was done on phone and you can only imagine the reaction.
I think the best thing to do is to call again.

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