in Marginalia

Robles on skepticism in journalism and the uselessness of the press conference

Cover of The Power and The Glory: The Story of the Manila Chronicle 1945-1998

Cover of The Power and The Glory: The Story of the Manila Chronicle 1945-1998

“I’m skeptical, which I think every journalist should be. If you’re not skeptical, then you’re not going to go anywhere as a journalist. You’re there to contest things. If not, you might as well hire yourself out as a loudspeaker. You might as well join the propaganda arm of the government…[For instance] I never paid attention to press conferences because press conferences are the most futile exercise in journalism. All the questions are probably going to be fixed beforehand, or they’re not going to be answered. Second, if you ask a good question, other reporters will benefit from it and they’ll have the story. So why should I waste my questions and somebody else will get my story? So I would wait until the press conference was over; then I would do my work. So that’s how you make things interesting—by being a little bit more diligent, by putting in a bit more work.”

— Former Manila Chronicle reporter Alan Robles from The Power and The Glory: The Story of the Manila Chronicle 1945-1998 by the late Raul Rodrigo in a chapter entitled The Best of Times, which narrates in detail the exciting days immediately after dictator Ferdinand Marcos, family members, and cronies were kicked out of the Philippines in February 1986. In 1988, an editorial Robles wrote for the Chronicle—about an Iranian airliner shot down by a US military vessel—was reprinted by the International Herald Tribune. Robles maintains a blog, teaches journalism at the Berlin-based Institute for International Journalism, and is always ready with a sharp, one-liner against anti-RH trolls on Facebook. As a columnist for ABS-CBNNews.com, he has written a piece entitled Journalism in the Philippines, on which the hashtag #wereajournalist was based. [See: Alan Robles’ blog]

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