Portrait of a Business Paper as Filipino

[This is a story I wrote for BusinessMirror in celebration of that newspaper's fifth year October 5. Am posting an edited version here to commemorate Nick Joaquin, who I tried to honor through this 817-word story.]

THEY don’t read newspapers like the BusinessMirror; they savor the experience.

They allow the words to drip like honey into the cerebellum, enriching a broad view of Philippine business.

That was how the paper was conceived five years ago, after several months of dry-runs and focus-group discussions.

The old hands of Filipino journalism and the youngbloods in business reporting decided to throw away the blandness in today's news gathering, reporting and writing on markets, the economy, and events important to people buying and selling everyday.

They became fiercely loyal to harnessing the elegance of the English language sans denigrating the language of business.

By avoiding a bifurcation of economics and politics, BusinessMirror broke the mold that business journalism was only for those adept at jargons.

By breaking the mold of a business paper, BusinessMirror devoted ample space to sports and lifestyle, motoring and gadgets, science and technology –news and information equally-savored by those doing business.

And by doing so, the paper reached sections of the population neglected by the lumbering giants of print media: young men and women burning with a spirit to grow in and with their country through business.

The paper helped stoke the fire of entrepreneurship and prop the flagging confidence to grow of small businesses, of scientists and technologists, and of mid-size investors.

At the same time, those seasoned in the ways of the market discovered that another credible source of information and opinion helped rather than befuddle an already-crowded media industry.

Indeed, BusinessMirror’s debut in 2005 was at a time the business of reporting business was clutched in a monopoly.

The ancients’ view held there was no more room in an inn filled with newspapers. Some said they failed to find logic behind the paper’s decision to go into print in an Internet age.

The paper’s owners, however, may have found solace in George Bernard Shaw who said that "some men see things the way they are and ask, ‘Why?’ Some dared to “dream things that never were and asked, 'Why not?'"

The market responded by returning the respect the paper bestowed on the reading public.

Months before it turned one, the paper’s story on labor-management relations in a globalized era won a top award in the 17th Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

Three years later, the paper was honored for having received the prestigious United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) Award for excellence in reporting on humanitarian and development affairs.

A year later, in 2009, Abano would again bring honor to the paper and Philippine journalism as she received the highest recognition during the Developing Asia Journalism Awards.

Of course, the market’s sweetest gesture was when the Rotary Club of Manila named BusinessMirror Newspaper of the Year award in 2007, or barely two years since the paper began.

It was a feat since the paper’s competitor was recognized by the Rotary Club only after more than a decade of existence.

By not shortchanging the reading public, the BusinessMirror has further enhanced its reputation as a credible incisive source of news and information not only of business but of the context of the deals and relationships involved.

In the end, according to the Sunday Call newspaper, writing on the The New York Times’s 50th anniversary, such reputation is a journal’s “real capital.”

Paraphrasing Sunday Call’s piece: in these days when the rise of so-called “new” media fuels the buzz of white noise and continuous sensationalist and gotcha journalism, the demand for decent business writing is greater.

But, indeed, “one need not be dull to be respectable,” the Sunday Call penned.

BusinessMirror, in the past five years and in the next five years, would tread on that path to make business journalism and the paper “very interesting.”

Here, what comes to mind are the characters in A Portrait of the Artist As Filipino that the late Nick Joaquin assigned the role of journalists.

One notable character there is Bitoy Camacho, a reporter given the temerity of a veteran newsman and the temperament of a greenhorn.

Joaquin gave Camacho's character the intelligence reserved for the learned as the reporter opened the scene by comparing the old Manila to the Tyre and Sidon; “a Babylon in commerce and a New Jerusalem in its faith.”

Camacho is presented both a professed lover of Spanish poetry and a willing student of art awed by the portrait of an artist on his career’s twilight years.
BusinessMirror and its reporters, hopefully, would attain the luminous role that Joaquin bestowed on Camacho as the paper now has made its mark like the portrait did on the characters in the late national artist’s seminal work.

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