In an industry where accuracy matters more than fluff, the big news is on holograms. The Mainstream Media (referred to as a proper noun for purposes of douchebaggery) have made news items out of the technologies they use to broadcast the news: “virtual presence” for ABS-CBN, and “holograms” for GMA-7. All technical aspects and nomenclature aside, the message reflected to me – Lowly Consumer of News Shown on Television (again, referred to as a proper noun for purposes of douchebaggery) – is nothing beyond cachet, buzzwords, and keeping in step with “how the rest of the world does news.”
I don’t know much about holograms except from science fiction, but I sort of know how news is delivered. I have nothing but respect for reporters and news anchors who take a lot of pains to make sure that their story is accurate and on time. I should know: having done it myself at one point in my life, I know how difficult it is to gather facts and write news. The holograms themselves may have been made in the interest of making the news livelier and (to a certain extent) more tolerable to watch, but the rest of the day, outside of triggering nausea and raising a few eyebrows here and there, hologram effects don’t really add to value, nor do they inform the public better.
I’m all for the “modernization” of news, but I personally think that starts with paying our journalists well for a profession where they risk life and limb to inform the public about the truth of the world around them. Following the Ampatuan Massacre, the money spent to make Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque holographic – or chroma-effect – images of reporters could have been better spent in raising salaries, creating risk funds, and adding benefits to a journalist’s income. Or raiding the newsrooms of envelopmental journalists and bumbling correspondents. Or hiring competent journalists to write credible news. Or perhaps using the money to improve facilities and make news-gathering more attuned to urgency, and responsive to the immediate.
I like the way Mainstream Media has improved on the experience of news reporting; TV news has evolved from the days of plain sets, to Noli de Castro’s toilet seat-like set when he hosted “TV Patrol,” to Mike Enriquez acting like a Jedi Knight communicating to a Padawan with these holographic eklavu. Yet that doesn’t discount the many things that have brought the major news networks to the forefront of public disdain: inaccurate reporting, sensationalism, and the LOL we get from watching Michael Fajatin stammer his way through something he’s supposed to already memorize.
Alternative media do great reports without having the OB vans and the iPads, without the flip-cams and the live-streaming technology. They do so, armed only with ticklers and battered old tape recorders, where they diligently take down everything, and report the facts and only the facts. They have won awards and the respect of their peers and the public for the professional way they report the facts, for their newsworthy angles, and for presenting the news as fairly and objectively as possible. Hologram technology will not, and cannot, accomplish that. It takes a professional journalist to do that, with or without a hologram.
I have to give due credit to the Major TV Networks (again, proper noun-ified) for taking their game a notch ahead, but if you keep feeding garbage into the hologram, the news remains the same. Building credibility doesn’t begin and end with making everything look better, but making them work better. To news-watching plebeians like myself who couldn’t care much for how many holograms of news anchors there are – or laser shows and pyrotechnics that come up whenever Mel Tiangco or Julius Babao enters the set (we never know) – what matters is to be informed. Fluff and flair that doesn’t add to credibility and respectability doesn’t really matter, unless they’re content with feeding the public with holograms passed off as truth.