The week’s top storyBy Pocholo Concepcion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
News of the airport melee involving show-biz couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto and their companions, who reportedly ganged up on Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo following an altercation, first broke on Inquirer.net about an hour after the incident.
It happened around noon on May 6, a Sunday, generally a slow day in the newsroom. But in the next several hours, as Inquirer reporters filed updates, readers’ interest grew by leaps and bounds, creating unusually heavy traffic on the online site.
The next day, May 7, the Inquirer ran the story—“Raymart Santiago, pals gang up on Mon Tulfo at Naia 3”—as banner or main headline. Its online version proceeded to generate almost 200,000 page views for a period of four days (May 6-9), topping the site’s most-read stories list across all sections, up till press time.
Two related stories—“Ramon Tulfo files raps vs Santiago-Barretto over airport brawl” and “Ramon Tulfo: Raymart’s group ganged up on me while Claudine kept cussing”—followed closely.
The headline story was way ahead of the total page views for the opinion section, (which was at No. 7), business (No. 9) and sports (No. 11) combined.
Online news on the resumption of the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona — specifically “Corona daughter now owns Basa-Guidote” on May 9—ranked No. 24 for the four-day period.
So what made the airport incident the Inquirer’s hottest story of the week?
Readers who viewed a video of the action posted on YouTube, had a field day commenting, for instance, on how Claudine forced her way to land punches on Tulfo and then complained on TV newscasts about being the victim.
Second, the aggrieved party, apparently—considering his bruises and swollen face—was a hard-hitting columnist who was also widely perceived as a tough guy.
Public opinion is still divided, understandably. Many are inclined to believe that whoever threw the first punch is the one at fault. Others point out that the main issue is press freedom.
In any case, the incident obviously touched a raw nerve… and the story is still unfolding. Lawsuits have been filed by the contending parties. TV5 suspended Tulfo’s three brothers from a show where they threatened Santiago and Barretto. Police is still investigating alleged ineptness on the part of airport security.
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