They say you cannot explain today’s domination of women in the country’s largest broadcast companies, influential and leading newspapers and magazines, and even in the nonprofit organizations for Investigative Journalism without talking about Martial Law. During the infamous dictatorship of late former President Ferdinand Marcos, many male Journalists in all media had been sent to prison, tortured and even killed with the hopes of freeing the country from tyranny.
News Editors and Reporters who were critical of Mr. Marcos during the times of Martial Law were taken away from the helm of opposition and kept behind bars. Those gentlemen who were left in the newsroom left the clamor into shortfall. This deficit of men in newsrooms were remedied by the rise of women to the helm of the front pages and even the opposition, thus leaving the lifestyle and feature section for the years to come.
This radicalization in today’s standard in the gender equality and equity in the newsroom can be liberally seen on the primetime news on Television, on Online News Sources and also in the front pages of the leading newspapers in the country. The usual broadsheet that I read—The Philippine Daily Inquirer can be traced of the same observation with Manila Bulletin and Philippine Star’s front page with having if not equal number with men, a female dominated page.
This observation is not new and has been a work of progress through the years after the Marcos dictatorship. The reason why women were not able to write hard news back then is because Journalism was considered as a very dangerous job—even for men. Now as sexist as that concept was, it is still important to consider the social standards that was set back then. How people perceive women and society’s expectation from women were flawed and still are, but not in Philippine Media.
Women are more than just sideliners of features and less consequential jobs, women can be in the field covering a war, in a cafe electronically breaking an exposé of a drug syndicate, and even lead their own newsroom of reporters and journalists. This breakthrough since the Marcos period can be underscored but should not be dwelt upon. Society is changing, and Journalism as an ineradicable part of it can not be excluded from these changes.
Journalism is a very dangerous job for both men and women, and women being able to sway the former standards of Journalism is a living breakthrough for society until today. Despite the Journalistic achievements in the course of history, it is still important to keep in mind that ‘who’ wrote the story does not matter all of time. A he or she in the byline of a banner story, a front page, a lifestyle page, and even in a computer or phone screen is not as pressing as the lacking quality and depth of today’s Journalism that the people deserve, and both male and female Journalists are called to address this pressing issue. Neil Jayson N. Servallos