Doris Dumlao-Abadilla is the Business Features Editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI). She has been a business journalist for over two decades, covering the banking beats and capital market beats. She has received 22 journalism awards, including those from the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP), Jaime V. Ongpin Investigative Journalism Awards, and Citibank Journalism Awards.
Aside from her awards in journalism, she has also been recognised as a “Young Global Leader” (Class of 2014) by the World Economic Forum and an “Asia21 Young Leader” (Class of 2011) by Asia Society. Telum Media caught up with Doris after her recent promotion to Business Features Editor at PDI.
As a business journalist for over two decades, tell us more about your journey in the newsroom.
I started this path as a campus journalist. I’ve always loved writing and was features editor of my high school publication and editor-in-chief of my college publication (Sinag, the official student publication of UP Diliman’s College of Social Sciences and Philosophy).
Right after college, I was briefly a currency futures trader. It wasn’t a good experience as the local industry had governance issues that led to their eventual shutdown by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But this episode was what triggered in me the thirst to learn more about the financial markets and made me appreciate the business beat. I have since then covered monetary, fiscal, and macroeconomic policy and the capital markets.
What is your day like as a Business Features Editor? Or how has the transition been?
While I also love breaking business news, I equally love features. My husband complains that since taking on this role, he has never seen me busier. That’s because we’re still in a transition for now, so I am still doing field work while handling desk work at the same time. It’s a test of multitasking abilities. But my teammates have been extremely helpful, and they have taken some daily workload off my back.
You’ve worked on countless stories to say the least. What would be the most memorable for you and why?
I’d classify them into two themes: crises and mergers & acquisitions (M&As). The news flow coming out of every crisis is memorable, especially as you track the companies and sectors that have been badly hit, as well as the regulatory changes and corporate recovery efforts that follow. The Asian currency crisis of 1997 – which was the very first crisis that I covered as a newbie journalist – and the global currency crunch that came a decade after were both memorable. Decades after, the lessons for business leaders and policymakers still resonate.
But this ongoing pandemic is really one for the books. M&As and corporate actions excite me, especially when we’re lucky to get wind of them ahead of the official announcements.
How do you work with PRs and brands? And what types of stories would interest you?
You could imagine the volume of story pitches in the mailbox every day versus the limited space that can go to the press. So we just select them based on the same values that make anything newsworthy – impact, relevance, timeliness, oddity and all that. The PRs are just a guide. We always ask more questions, seek additional resource persons and materials and independent views. I give more premium to exclusive stuff, including one-on-one interviews.
I like themes revolving around entrepreneurship, technology/innovation/digitalization, ESG / sustainability, gender equality/diversity, corporate/CEO profiles/management insights, business trends/analysis, how-to tips, corporate finance, corporate turnaround/expansion, consumer finance/financial literacy, best practices, first-mover and record-breaking feats and philanthropy (the extraordinary, not the run-of-the-mill ones), commentary on regulatory reforms and policy proposals.
What stories do you think Filipinos need more of?
Consumption of business news has been historically lower in the Philippines compared to appetite for, say entertainment, and it reflects the economic structure of our society. But as the middle class expands and with the growing number of digital-savvy young people entering the workforce, there is likewise growing thirst for stories about companies and brands people are familiar with, investment and business opportunities and the macroeconomy in general. But business news is not just for those with money. We must strive to bring business news closer to the people to help them make better decisions on their household finances, business/industry, professional career, or their role in civil society. This means first and foremost, understanding what we write about, and writing them in such a way that others will understand as well.
As a senior journalist, what words of advice do you have for aspiring journalists?
In this day and age when everyone can be a publisher in social media, ask yourself why people should read your piece when they can get the same stuff straight from the company’s Twitter or Facebook page? Find the stories before they happen by keeping your ears on the ground and reading possible trends. If the stories are already unfolding, be on top of the game, stay alert for new developments, find new insights and analysis, and add background/context, of course subject to available space. Add more depth, deadline permitting. More than the who-what-when-where-how-why, never forget the so-what.
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