Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

I have not been able to post anything from my time spent in Cagayan de Oro. Although I spent the long weekend there for the feast of the city’s patron saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, and for much needed time with my family, I hardly had time to write down anything here. Probably because I spent most of the time talking with my parents, my siblings and Agnes. And whatever little time was left was spent on playing Facebook games.

But being that there were several thoughts which accumulated during the four-day break, I would like to put them down before they become a burden to my work back here in Quezon City. These thoughts have been going in and out of my mind and I thought I should get over them by having them shackled by letters and lines here.

It saddened me how my father has lost the love for writing and teaching what he knows about journalism to little kids. He has also decided to do away with his involvements with a mall and a local government unit in our area. My mother tells me that he lost his drive when he saw his articles being used by someone else who did nothing but insert a by line. And that someone had the audacity to post the articles online and tag my father. Dumb? Yes! That person obviously cannot come up with write ups as good as those made by my father and so, she got so envious, she had to put in her name and present them to her employer in the hope of gaining his favor.

Yeah, such human beings exist and I also have had my experience with those.

I had an editor who liked to paint me as incompetent and yet steal the lines from the articles I submitted and put in his name in the by line. Yes, his name alone. Yes, some people can be that brazen. And all because he thought that since he added a paragraph, changed a line or two, and went over the article time and again, he already had the power to claim it as his own (while making my superiors believe that I did not submit anything).

I could not fathom why these kind of persons actually exist and call themselves journalists. Probably they never had their glory days when they were still in the streets. Or probably their egos were so big they thought it would be nice to get employed as an editor without first being a reporter. And yet they still longed for the recognition and acclaim that reporters get (which editors don’t). Egos… It’s all about their egos.

I had been an editor myself and it was no easy feat. I was an editor for regional news in a TV broadcast company which ran stations from as far north as Cagayan Valley to as far south as Davao City. And it was my duty back then to scour the advisories from these stations and decide which ones to use as lobby chips for slots in the national news programs.

And whenever the stories are chosen, I always try to make the effort of getting the reporter to do the package instead of presenting them myself even if it was I who wrote the Tagalog or English scripts for reports which were in the local regional language. I always thought that it would be important to exercise the old rule that we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

Of course, it’s different when the reporter waives his ownership over his story and gives me the go signal to claim the report; or if the senior desks and producers are such in a hurry that there is no more time to arrange for the reporter to voice the report himself. Where there was time, I usually passed it to the local reporter who gathered the story. That is his story. That is his moment. That is his piece of fine journalism.

But then again, maybe concepts such as attribution, appreciation of hard work and respect are gone for people like the “journalists” I described above. Maybe it is their egos which matter more to them than self-respect, self-worth and simple decency.

It is odd though that these egotistic “journalists” are usually the ones who act in public as if they are the epitome of the classical practitioner of the profession. As if they have done so much in the profession and accomplished so much that they should be held in high esteem. And yet, they continue to exploit the labors of others, claim it as their own, and feed their wanting selves.

I view these pitiful creatures as the scum of the profession, if not the earth. It is these individuals who drive people like my father, away from that with which they have dedicated their lives. They take away the souls of writers, the intergrity of journalists, and the dignity of the being. God have mercy on their person but I pray, and at the risk of sounding vindictive, that they be scourged by the heavens and that the fates would exact from their a suffering so painful they would regret they were even born.

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