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HIGH BLOOD

Bearers and hearers of news

12:05 AM October 24, 2016

As retirees, my husband and I are no longer part of the workaday world, but we maintain our connection with the wider world in many ways. For one, we keep ourselves abreast with current and unfolding events through the print and broadcast media. By being aware of what’s going on around us, we can make educated opinions and decisions about our lives as Filipinos.

A simple pleasure that my partner and I savor is reading the newspapers in our favorite coffee shops. We love talking about brewing political issues here and abroad, and updates on education, sports, lifestyle and entertainment, while sipping cappuccino.

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“A good newspaper,” according to American playwright Arthur Miller, “is a nation talking to itself.”

Stories about exemplary public service, heroic deeds, extraordinary acts of kindness, honesty and tenacity move and delight us. They boost our morale and give us hope because they reveal human goodness and beauty.

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“The best stories reach us on some elemental level,” said Dateline NBC correspondent John Larson. “They talk about a mother’s love for her children, a husband’s pride in his country … There’s something very important that’s always going on in a very simple way in good stories.”

On the other hand, reports on graft and corruption, injustice, disrespect and abuses against elderly persons, women and children, rampant addiction to drugs and other vices, criminality, calumny, word wars and armed conflicts create disquieting feelings of dismay, cynicism, frustration and foreboding among us.

Studies show that one’s success depends to a large extent on the support systems available to one. The media provide this kind of support when they take a genuine and active interest in the capabilities of Filipinos as individuals and as human beings; open the window to people in dire need of government attention, development, and socioeconomic change; and underscore their potential as a valuable development resource.

Once, while reading a newspaper, I was provoked into critical thinking by two full pages of party photos and write-ups about upper-class people. I wondered aloud: Would the lifestyle of people living in tribal villages and informal settlements be equally newsworthy?

My husband’s comment: “People are naturally more interested in the lifestyle of the rich and famous than in how ordinary people dress, cook their food, and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Lifestyle trends, after all, have always been dictated by the elite, the popular, and the glamorous.”

But I insisted: “It would surely be fascinating to read about how, for instance, some rural women in our hometown in Laguna could make the hard-packed dirt flooring in their homes looking so polished and clean; or how, as featured in a TV show, a young daughter of charcoal makers (“mag-uuling”) in a dumpsite expresses her aspirations in life through her poignant charcoal drawings on wood scraps.

Thanks to resourceful and crusading journalists, we discover people who can find “wealth” in scarcity and keep their dreams and dignity intact amid poverty.

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Henry Luce, the man behind the news magazines Time, Life and Fortune, said: “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”

Reading, watching and hearing news stories call for critical thinking. Sensational headlines and misleading “leads” can make us highly emotional and recklessly judgmental.

Voltaire’s words of caution: “When we hear news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.”

Bearers of news who are faithful to their calling serve as catalysts for change. They truly deserve our support, respect and gratitude.

The Bible has this inspiring message for them: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Prosy Badiola Torrechante, 69, once worked for a government corporation that produced a livelihood education program for television.

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