Telum Talks To… Marc Anthony Reyes, Sports Writer, Philippine Daily Inquirer
With almost 30 years of experience as a Sports Writer with Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), what significant changes can you note with regard to the media landscape in the Philippines?
With the dawn of the Internet age, I would say we have witnessed a dramatic change in as far as media landscape is concerned and how we as practitioners try to adapt to those changes.
Suddenly those of us in print media had to contend with platforms in real time, 24/7. Previously, it was only against broadcast TV and radio, of which we had to make our articles fresh and “pushed forward” so they don’t get stale in the newsstands the following morning.
Now we have to be “at the moment,” taking videos, pictures and posting them as they happen, otherwise some kids with smartphones will beat us to it through social media - and get even more likes than we do.
What has kept you passionate about covering the same beat?
Well, the joke I used to tell is that if our sports desk is a parlour (salon), then I’d be the all-around beautician. I cover just about every sport - boxing, volleyball, tennis, basketball, swimming, taekwondo, baseball, multi-events such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Sports is not just one beat. Each sport has its own set of rules, jargons, personalities, history. So, in that sense, the sports beat is an entire universe of beats.
You joined PDI straight after college, how do you think your writing style evolved since? How do you constantly find ways to improve?
I joined PDI as a student back in 1991 when the country hosted the SEA Games, and the newspaper needed volunteers to help cover the games.
It has evolved through the years as I try to learn and improve my craft every single day, every single coverage, every single copy. I learn from my peers here and abroad.
You have covered various sporting competitions over the years, which story do you hold closest to heart?
I find it very difficult to single out a particular story or coverage. Maybe it is because I have been in the business for far too long and covered far too many.
But perhaps the ones popping up right now are my Nonito Donaire coverages in New York City (Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall) on account of the experience I had covering them as the lone Philippine-based reporter.
Back then I would file my stories in press rooms of the hallowed venues side by side with some of the finest American sportswriters. Then I would walk out the streets of Manhattan at midnight, passing through wet streets and smoke vents to get to the half-empty subway station down Penn Station. It was pure joy for me. And, quoting a line from Stayin’ Alive, “you can tell by the way I walked.”
If you did not become a journalist, do you think you would have become an athlete? If so, which sport would you have taken on?
I was into basketball from the time I was in grade school. So yes, I could have probably tried to be a basketball player. Then again, I have poor hand eye coordination and most likely would have spent my time warming the bench. So, I would probably have become a coach instead. Or a referee. Or sportswriter.
Do you have any advice to young adults looking to pursue a career in journalism?
Read. A lot. Develop the disciplines of true journalism, its ethics and practice. That is what sets us apart from citizen journalists that we have a lot of these days.
In your expert opinion, is there enough support for local athletes?
Right now, yes. Philippine officials spend more and more government money on athletes especially those bound for Olympics and other high-level competitions. Corporate support is also on the rise especially for basketball and volleyball leagues that happen to be very popular these days.
How do you prefer PRs contact you for press coverage?
Ahh this one. I personally prefer PRs to tell me off-hand what they’re promoting and / or pushing for. Give me the contact numbers (or, better yet, set interviews) and allow me to deal with the slant / angle of story.
As a writer, I believe I know how to make your clients look good without sounding too hard sell. A win-win situation where everybody is happy.
Lastly, Lakers or Clippers?
Clippers. LeBron James may be the best to most, but he lacks the charm, so I tend not to root for any team he’s in.