Category Archives: MEDIA

Let’s write the way we talk

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

By Alex P. Vidal13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

WE should talk the way we write, or write the way we talk.
Both talking and writing are the most effective means of communication.
As a community journalist, I have come to realize that it’s not enough that we write, we must also talk or write the way we talk vice versa.
Writing consultant Rudolf Flesch, creator of Flesch-Kincaid readability test, once lamented that 99 percent of the people who come to his writing classes were born non-writers and have stayed that way all their lives.
He observes that for them, writing has always been an unpleasant chore; answering a simple letter looms ahead like a visit to the dentist.
“But they have to do a certain amount of writing in their careers,” Flesch writes in Word Power. “And knowing their writing was poor, they decided to do something about it.”
No doubt when we think about improving our writing, we think of grammar, rhetoric, composition,–and all those dull things we learned year after year in school.
“But most likely,” Flesch points out, “these things are not your problem. You probably have a pretty good grip on these essentials. What you need is instruction in the basic principles of professional writing.”
Why professional writing? Because we now write as we did in school, unconsciously trying to please the teacher by following the rules of “English Composition.”
“You’re not really writing a letter to the addressee, or a report for your vice president,” Flesch contends. “The pros-magazine writers, newspapermen, novelists, people who write for a living—learned long ago that they must use “spoken” English and avoid “written” English like the plague.


The Austrian-born author of Why Johnny Can’t Read, enumerates the following:

TALK ON PAPER. The secret to more effective writing is simple: talk to your reader. Pretend the person who’ll read your letter or report is sitting across from you, or that you are on the phone with him. Be informal. Relax. Talk in your ordinary voice, your ordinary manner, vocabulary, accent and expression.
You wouldn’t say “Please be advised,” or “We wish to inform you.” Instead, something like this, “You see, it’s like this,” or “Let me explain this.” One helpful trick is to imagine yourself talking to your reader across a table at launch. Punctuate your sentence in your mind, with a bite from a sandwich. Intersperse your thoughts with an occasional “you know,” or the person’s name.
So talk-talk on paper. Go over what you’ve written. Does it look and sound like talk? If not, change it until it does.

There’s nothing more important for improving your writing style. Use of don’t and it’s and haven’t and theirs is the No. 1 style device of modern professional writing. Once you’ve learned this basic trick, you can start producing prose that will be clear, informal and effective.
Take the standard opening phrase: “Enclosed please find.” What’s a better way o saying that? Simply, here’s”!*

LEAVE OUT THE WORD “THAT” WHENEVER POSSIBLE. You can often omit it without changing the meaning at all. Take this sentence: “We suggest that you send us your passbook once a year.” Now strike out that. Isn’t this better and smoother? Again, this is something we do all the time in speaking.
And while you’re crossing out thats, also go on a which hunt. For some reason people think which is a more elegant pronoun. Wrong. Usually you can replace which by that, or leave it out altogether—and you’ll get a better, more fluent, more “spoken” sentence.

A conversation is not one-sided. One person speaks, then the other interrupts, often with a question, like “Really?” or “Then what?” A conversation without questions is almost inconceivable. So use a question whenever there’s an opportunity, and your writing will sound more like talk.
You don’t have to go out of your way to do this. Look at what you write and you’ll find indirect questions—beginning with whether all over the place. “Please determine whether payment against these receipts will be in order.” No good. Make it: “Can we pay against these receipts? Please find out and let us know.”
Or take another sentence: “Your questions and comments are invited.” Again, this is really a question: “Do you have any questions or comments? If so, please let us know.” There’s nothing like a direct question to get some feedback.


USE PERSONAL PRONOUNS. A speaker use I, we and you incessantly—they’re part of the give-and-take of conversation. Everybody, it seems, who writes for a company or organization clings desperately to the passive voice and avoids talking the slightest responsibility. He doesn’t say we, never says I, and he even avoids using the straightforward you. So we find phrases like “It is assumed…” “it will be seen…” “it is recommended…” Or sentences like: “An investigation is being made and upon its completion a report will be furnished you.” Instead, write: “We’ve made an investigation and we’ll furnish you a report.”
Normally, when writing for an organization, there isn’t too much opportunity to say “I.” But do use “I” whenever you express feelings and thoughts that are your own. Often it’s better to say “I’m sorry” or “we’re pleased,” than “we’re sorry” or “we’re pleased.” And call the addressee you. The idea is to make your writing as personal as possible.

IT’S ALL RIGHT TO PUT PREPOSITIONS AT THE END. For 50 years, English-language experts have unanimously insisted that a preposition at the end is fine and dandy. H.W. Fowler, in a Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 1926, defends it enthusiastically and cites examples from Shakespeare and the Bible to Thackeray and Kipling. Yet schoolteachers still tell pupils they should never commit such a wicked crime.
Put the preposition at the end whenever it sounds right to do so. Instead of “The claimant is not entitled to the benefits for which he applied,” write “The claimant isn’t entitled to the benefits he applied for.”
Remember, grammatical superstitions are something to get rid of.

SPILL THE BEANS. There’s a natural tendency in all of us to begin at the beginning and go on to the end. When you write a letter, it’s the easiest way to organize your material. The trouble is, it’s hard on the reader. He has a problem, or a question, and wants to know whether the answer is yes or no. If he has to wait until you’re willing to tell him, his impatience and subconscious resentment will increase with every word. Rather than stumbling your way through some awkward introduction, start right in with the most important thing you want to get cross.

USE SHORT WORDS. Long, pompous words are a curse, a curtain that comes between writer and reader. Here are some familiar sayings as they would appear in a business letter. “In the event that initially you fail to succeed, endeavor, endeavor again.” “All is well that terminate well.”
Everybody has his own pet pomposities. Banish them from your vocabulary. Replace locate with find; prior to with before; sufficient with enough; in the event that with if. After those simple substitutions, weed out such other words as determine, facilitate and require whenever they up. You’ll find that it’s possible to live without them. And you’ll learn to appreciate the joys of simple language.


WRITE FOR PEOPLE. By far the most important thing is to give your letters just the right human touch. Express your natural feelings. If it’s good news, say you’re glad; if it’s bad news, say you’re sorry. Be as courteous, polite and interested as you’d be if the addressee sat in front of you. Some human being will read your letter and, consciously be annoyed if it is cold, pleased if you’re courteous and friendly.
A bank got a letter from a customer who’d moved from New York to Bermuda. He wrote to make new arrangements about his account. The bank’s answer started: “We thank you for your letter advising us of your change of address.” Now really! How stony and unfeeling can you get? I would at least have said something like “I noted your new address with envy.”
Flesch suggests: “You’ll find there are rewards for improving your written work. This is the age of large organizations where it’s easier to catch the eye of a superior by what you write than by what you say or do.”
He adds: “Write the way I suggest and your stuff will stand out. Beyond the material rewards are more personal ones. When you write a particularly crisp, elegant paragraph, or a letter that conveys your thoughts clearly and simply, you’ll feel a flow of creative achievement. Treasure it. It is something you’ve earned.”

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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in EDUCATION, MEDIA



Graciano Lopez Jaena inspires Ilonggo journalists

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” Tecumseh

By Alex P. Vidal

The reason why Ilonggos are so proud and probably the most-inspired journalists in the country in this generation, is because of Graciano Lopez Jaena.
Could the son of Jaro, Iloilo City, who died in poverty, have been swallowed by the prevailing system that decimates the moral fiber of many enterprising journalists had he lived in today’s generation?
Born on December 18, 1856 and died on January 20, 1896, Lopez Jaena was not only an outstanding journalist, but was also an orator at par with the country’s and even the Asia’s best.
As the first ilustrado to arrive in Spain where he started the Propaganda Movement against our Spanish colonizers, Lopez Jaena became revolutionary when he formed a triumvirate with Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcel H. del Pilar.
But he became well known for his newspaper, La Solidarid.
No wonder contemporary journalists in Iloilo today flood the Western Visayas community with newspapers.
Almost every freedom-loving and lovers of letters and literature want to become newspapermen or to own and manage their own newspaper in the Ilonggo-speaking populace.
It runs in the Ilonggo blood.
Before he became famous, Lopez Jaena was first sent by his parents to study at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Jaro which had been opened under the administration of Governor General Carlos María de la Torre y Nava Cerrada.
In the seminary, he served as a secretary to Claudio Lopez, his uncle who was the honorary vice consul of Portugal in Iloilo.
But he had ambition to become a physician. Lopez Jaena convinced his parents that he needed to enroll in a university in Manila.


He was denied admission at the University of Santo Tomas because he did not have a Bachelor of Arts degree when he was at the seminary in Jaro.
Lopez Jaena was appointed to the San Juan de Dios Hospital as an apprentice.
He eventually dropped out due to financial difficulties and returned to Iloilo.
His assimilation with the poor ignited his feelings about the injustices common in that era.
Lopez Jaena’s potentials as a reformer and writer became apparent at the age of 18 when he wrote the satirical story “Fray Botod” which depicted a fat and lecherous priest.
Lopez Jaena ribbed Fray Botod’s false piety which “always had the Virgin and God on his lips no matter how unjust and underhanded his acts are.”
The story was not published, but a copy circulated widely in Iloilo. The infuriated friars could not prove that Lopez Jaena was the author, thus he became off the hook, so to speak, temporarily.
The son of Jaro refused to testify that certain prisoners died of natural causes when it was obvious that they had died at the hands of the mayor of Pototan town, thus he was pilloried.
He continued to agitate for justice. When he received threats on his life, he sailed to Spain in 1879, where he pursued the Propaganda Movement.


In the land of our colonizers, Lopez Janea became a leading writer, propagandist, and speaker for reform of the homeland.
He finally pursued his medical studies at the University of Valencia but did not finish, thus incurring the ire of Rizal.
Lopez Jaena defended why he did not finish his medical studies by saying, “On the shoulders of slaves should not rest a doctor’s cape.”
“The shoulders do not honor the doctor’s cape, but the doctor’s cape honors the shoulders,” Rizal intoned.
The national hero died of tuberculosis in poverty on January 20, 1896, 11 months short of his 40th birthday.
He was buried in an unmarked grave at the Cementerio del Sub-Oeste of Barcelona the following day.
Marcelo H. del Pilar’s death followed on July 4. Rizal was killed on December 30 by firing squad in Bagumbayan.
Their deaths ended the great triumvirate of Filipino propagandists, but their works contributed in the liberation of their compatriots from the Spanish colony.
Lopez Jaena’s remains have not been brought back to the Philippines.
We commemorate Lopez Jaena’s 158th birth anniversary on December 18, 2014, an official holiday in the entire island of Panay.

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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in EDUCATION, MEDIA


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In fairness to Korina

“Fairness is not an attitude. It’s a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.” Brit Hume

By Alex P. Vidal

THE problem with being the wife of a prominent politician is that you are always under close scrutiny; even the way you shape your eyebrows and the manner you move your lips are subjected to microscopic sleuthing.
Such is the misfortune that befell Korina Sanchez, twice a recipient of disparaging remarks from do-gooders and dyed-in-the-wool haters; fault-finders who always find pleasure in mocking the first lady wanna-be with catatonic impulsion.
When Korina committed a lapsus linguae in the super-typhoon “Ruby” forecast during a newscast on ABS-CBN last December 3, detractors were quick to make mountain out of a molehill, tearing her apart like ribbons for being “irresponsible” and a dork.
We know that Korina made the mistake sans malice and bad faith.
Everyone commits a mistake every now and then.
Nobody’s perfect.
One reckless statement does not make a professional media personality a merchant of doom overnight.
Korina did not commit the error with a joyride.
It went viral and the consequences were fatal and unpalatable.


After it caught fire and brimstone in the social media, a hoax report was posted on a satirical website parroting that she was supposedly declared persona non grata by no less than Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The hoax report shot: “Abe, speaking in public after his meeting with officials of Japan Meteorological Agency regarding typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), said that for a public figure such as Sanchez, to say such things towards Japan; is an act “definitely unbecoming of a news anchor, let alone an Interior Ministry’s wife”.
“I am very saddened to hear reports of schadenfreude coming from a TV anchor, who just last year, was put in her place by Mr. Anderson Cooper of CNN,” said Abe.
“That is why without a second thought, I am declaring wholeheartedly Ms. Korina Sanchez of the Philippines, as an unwelcome person anywhere in Japan.”
The International Business Times, meanwhile, decried that “many in the Philippines were outraged by the insensitive remark made by the prominent TV anchor. However, for Sanchez, this is not the first time that she has courted controversy at the global level.”


It recalled, citing a Rappler report, that in November last year, Korina, who is ABS-CBN’s chief correspondent and anchor of its flagship newscast TV Patrol, had lashed out at CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for criticizing the country’s government and their response to handling the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“Following her insensitive remark, the recent hoax gained more traction, as now Sanchez’s husband Mar Roxas is said to be aspiring for the President’s seat in the country and any statement from her would have an impact, both at national and international levels,” added the International Business Times.
In another bizarre development, comedian Joey de Leon, of all the people, lambasted the popular TV newscaster on Twitter.
But who is Joey de Leon?
His soliloquy can be easily dismissed as akin to a pot calling the kettle black.

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Posted by on December 13, 2014 in MEDIA


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Boy Abunda in PN’s thanksgiving party

“Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” Marshall McLuhan

By Alex P. Vidal

I would like to thank Panay News Editor-in-chief Danny Fajardo and Managing Editor Herbert Vego for personally inviting me to grace the paper’s Product Launch, a thanksgiving party for PN’s 33rd year in business at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center last November 28 night.
It was a very successful and much-ballyhooed affair attended by the metropolis’ who’s who mostly from the business, marketing/advertisement, government, and media/entertainment sectors.
The program, very innovative and colorful, was arranged by the indefatigable CEO, Daniel Fajardo II, and marketing manager, Lei Fajardo, as well as VP-corporate affairs Maria Fajardo.
I left immediately after guest speaker, Eugenio Boy Abunda Jr., finished talking on “Print Advertising vis-à-vis Public Relations and Media Celebrity.”
No more selfies. No more photo-ops.
It was at around past 8 o’clock in the evening when Abunda, partner of presidential sister Kris Aquino, entered the hall when everyone had finished eating dinner.
He was not around during the cocktail party in the poolside that kicked off the program at 6 o’clock in the evening.
Abunda would have met a lot of prominent Ilonggo businessmen and media personalities had he made himself available during the cocktail party.


Mr. Vego introduced me to La Carmela de Boracay hotel owner Samuel “Boy” So, Abunda’s event factotum and real life best friend, while Abunda was not yet around.
It was So who later tapped my shoulder to indicate that the guest speaker, a rumored senatorial wanna-be in 2016, was already walking behind him as they entered the hall, thus I was able to greet the visitor, “hi Boy.”
He replied, “hello po.”
I wanted to hear how Abunda would dissect national issues as a prominent member of the nation’s entertainment and media world.
After being introduced by society columnist John Castigador, my media colleague for over 25 years, Abunda buckled down to work.
He read a prepared speech and recalled important national and international events leading to PN’s birth as a weekly newspaper in the pre-EDSA years.
Abunda also praised highly “those behind the Lapus Calami,” PN’s most popular column, saying “they should go to heaven.”
He told the PN family and guests that he read the paper regularly in Metro Manila.


Abunda hailed the constant change in the paper’s layout and presentation of news and features saying “it constantly whets the appetite of advertisers and readers alike, thus keeping it competitive.”
The top-rated TV host cited PN’s success story to disprove the notion that the Internet would weaken the print media.
A writer cannot be credible overnight, he emphasized.
A writer cannot attain instant credibility with only one or two articles.
He must be able to prove himself by writing more stories and he must not be afraid to commit mistakes, Abunda exhorted.
Abunda has the material to serve the government. He was reportedly offered the Department of Tourism portfolio after President Nonoy Aquino assumed office but turned it down saying he was happy where he was when the alleged offer came.
Will he run for senator in 2016? He denied it but in politics, only fools don’t change their minds, as the saying goes.
In Metro Manila, the grapevine says Abunda is being considered as one of the administration’s bets for senator.
Atty. Ade Fajardo, PN CEO, led the awarding of plaque of appreciation to Abunda.

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in MEDIA


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