Hardknocks Journalism 101
By Manny Piņol
20 Jul 2011
At age 57 and having been a journalist since 17, I can safely claim that I have grown my spurs as a newsman.
Not counting the 15 years as an accidental politician, I would dare say that the 25 years I spent in journalism have honed my news senses to the point of being able to keenly discern what is newsworthy, what is not; what story would interest the reader, what would not; which sources to rely on, which sources to doubt.
I played the reporter's game of "scoop" and "koryente" (false alarm) long before many of the current crop of younger journalists learned how to lick their pacifiers.
In my younger days, reporters would proudly crow in the morning when they were able to print a story that the other reporters failed to get. In journalism that is called a "scoop."
But there were days too, when these same guys would prefer to be like chameleon and adapt to the color of their typewriters when they became victims of a "koryente" or electrocution, which was basically writing a story based on false or made up information.
I had my fair share of both. A scoop was exhilirating while a "koryente" made one feel sick like there was a bagful of marbles stuck in the gut.
Three weeks ago, I wrote a story about Nonito Donaire Jr.'s return to Top Rank which appeared in The Manila Times and also posted on www.philboxing.com. It was titled "Return of the Prodigal Son: Donaire Back to Top Rank."
A young writer immediately came up with a story denying that report and even obliquely lectured me on how to gather information correctly by using a videocam and a tape recorder. He went on to suggest that for reliable information, readers would be safer by getting it from him.
Four days ago, he virtually stuffed his feet into his mouth when he came up with an "official" announcement from Donaire himself that indeed he was returning to Top Rank.
There were several lessons in news gathering and reporting that I learned as a young scribe.
First, if you want to get a first hand story, get it from the subject himself. If you want to get the other side of his story, go to his detractors. Second, never report a story when you are not sure of its accuracy but then again, when somebody beats you to a story, never come up with a denial unless you are also very sure of your version.
Which brings us now to the brewing storm caused by a column I wrote about the fall from grace of Michael Koncz, Manny Pacquiao's erstwhile business advisor and spokesman, who also served as the go-between for the Pacman and his promoter, Bob Arum.
After a lull of about 10 hours, Koncz denied the firing in an interview with another boxing website saying he had talked to Manny and even joked with him while Arum was quoted by the Ring Magazine in an interview saying he talked to journalist Ronnie Nathanielsz who said Manny laughed loud when asked about the "firing" of Koncz.
Bob Arum was even quoted as saying that Koncz is very reliable when it comes to financial dealings because he reports to Manny Pacquiao every penny earned by the Filipino boxing icon.
I find it strange that the frantic denial of the firing would come from both Bob Arum and Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels. Whose guy is Koncz' anyway, Pacquiao's or Top Rank's?
Strange too is the fact that while Manny Pacquiao seems to be taking everything in stride, Koncz and Top Rank are the ones issuing statements on behalf of the Pacman.
Ronnie Nathanielsz' story about Manny Pacquiao saying in jest that it was his lawyer, Jeng Gacal, who made up the story and then later adding that he was just joking was very revealing.
I have not seen or talked to Manny for sometime now, but if I know him, his light-hearted reaction to Ronnie's probing question of whether he really fired Koncz or not, implied a more profound message.
What was funny too was Bob Arum's belabored explanation on how Koncz made sure that every penny that Manny Pacquiao earned was given to the boxing icon.
Is Bob giving us an idea of what this issue is all about? I never mentioned "money problems" in my column.
Was my story just a product of my imagination? Did I just make it up because that is what all the denials seem to suggest?
Or was I a victim of a "koryente?"
Well, I cannot claim to be infallible or even immune from the old game of "koryente" but I can assure the readers that the story came from a very reliable source who gave me accurate stories in the past and there is no reason for me to even doubt its veracity.
The details and the account were so vivid and there was no way I could ignore the story.
In fact, if I were to believe the source, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be a development of cataclysmic proportions.
In the days, or perhaps weeks, to come, more developments are expected to unfold which will radically change the landscape of the mythical Pacland.
But let me warn the readers, this story could take twists and turns given the magnitude of its repercussions. They could talk and come up with a compromise.
As fellow philboxing.com columnist Homer Sayson suggested, I may have jumped the gun on an unfolding drama.
I will not be surprised if along the way, powerful and unseen hands will be able to iron out the kinks and make it appear as though nothing really happened.
Oh, I have witnessed many of these dramas in my lifetime.
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