Telum Media spoke to Roderick Dela Cruz, Business Editor of Manila Standard, regarding his career as a journalist and the ins and outs of business journalism, including tips on choosing newsworthy topics for the newspaper.
What sparked your interest in journalism?
When I was in high school, I was interested in poetry and creative writing. It sort of grew from there, and I represented my alma mater — Sapang Palay National High School in Bulacan — in the national schools press conference in, I think, 1990. After high school, I studied Journalism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Were you assigned in other beats before? How or why did you choose to focus on the business beat?
I had covered different fields — police, House of Representatives, and Malacañang — before I moved to the business and economic beat.
How does business journalism differ from other assignments?
Business journalism deals with a lot of numbers and data. Instead of using adjectives, you use figures to elaborate on a story. Business journalism in the Philippines also has many fields or beats such as banking and finance, macroeconomy, stock market, business and corporate, investments, trade and industry, agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunication, information technology, travel and tourism, etc. One should learn the jargons specific to each field and explain it in terms people understand.
How do you ensure that the average Filipino can understand a complex business story?
It is about explaining the impact of an issue on the lives of the people. Inflation, for example, is not only about the increase in consumer prices. It is also about how the central bank will respond in terms of raising the interest rate, which would make it more expensive to get a loan. When it is burdensome to get a loan, demand and spending would wane, and the whole economy would be affected.
How does your team at Manila Standard choose the best and most newsworthy stories to cover?
We choose the stories that would have the most impact on the lives of the Filipino people and those that would generate a lot of jobs. These stories include macroeconomic issues such as GDP growth, inflation, unemployment, exports, etc. On the corporate side, we highlight multi-billion-peso investments that will generate thousands of jobs.
What tips can you give to PR practitioners looking to pitch stories to Manila Standard?
Make their stories relevant to the lives of the Filipino people, and get straight to the point.
What's the best advice you've had from your mentors and what advice would you give to aspiring business journalists?
A prominent Filipino-American journalist once said: Go to the dark places and write about them. Another Filipino journalist said: Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
A mentor also said: Don't say it. Let the source say it.
Over the years, I have also found the magic word in journalism which is "said", and there is no need to replace it. Also, avoid adjectives as much as you can, and stick to the facts. In business journalism, let the numbers tell the story.
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