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Modus operandi (5 March 2006 People's Journal editorial)

WHEN the nation’s top cop hurled a threat to take over the operations of newspapers that won’t bow-wow-wow to government standards of reportage during a national emergency, a lot of grizzled editors wished that he made good his threats.

Why, we and readers at large could use some of the flinty operatives in the force—preferably those fully versed in tactical interrogation and extracting confessions from felons—to break news from certain beats. We expect ‘em tough cops to bring gung-ho freshness, maybe a few gallons of raw blood to reportage.

Readers can expect the more ruthless cops to turn up more sense and sanity in, say, entertainment news. Let ‘em cops grill those stars and celebrities, sock ‘em with tough and gritty questions—enough of lies and nonsense that clutter a lot of entertainment news.

“Sa presinto ka na lang magpaliwanag!” Isn’t that refreshing to hear as a star is handcuffed and hauled off for an interview? Boy, we’d like ‘em cops versed in tactical interrogation to have a go at Garci and Pidal. “Sa presinto ka na lang magpaliwanag!” We expect that line to be told again and again to show business respondents who can only offer trivia and inanity.

Readers can hope for a more robust prose and gritty writing when cops do showbiz reportage—out with limp-wristed slants at non-stories, out with effiminate lingo that can infect readers nationwide. With new standards and writing guidelines in place, there’ll be sweeping changes in media and the nation’s mood.

To wield the pen is to be at war, goes the quote from Voltaire. And with a tougher breed of journalists pounding the news beats, prying out facts and confessions from usual suspects plus respondents here, there, and everywhere, readers can expect to smell whiffs of gunpowder and hear crisp reports. We’ll be getting no-nonsense news.

Then again, we must be dreaming and we could be dead wrong like lambs led to the slaughter.

The last time stewards from government were sent to shepherd our papers, those shepherds treated the papers like cows. Not sacred cows, no sir.

While piling up zillions of pogi points for the powers-that-be and Malacañang denizens, those shepherds turned out to have a fetish for teats and udders.

They turned our papers into milking cows.

Such was their modus operandi, no thanks for the mammary…

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