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/ 12:01 AM May 18, 2016

THREE years ago, viewers and voters were surprised by the uncommon speed with which initial electoral returns were counted and reported on radio and TV.

Last May 9 and 10, the first report came even faster—so in a matter of a single day, Rodrigo Duterte was unofficially hailed as the country’s next President, and viewers thrilled to the excitement of the swiftly unfolding events and revelations.

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Kudos to the Commission on Elections and the country’s radio-TV networks for the brisk handling and resolving, which went a long way in settling scores and answering potentially divisive questions.

Leading candidates like Grace Poe and Mar Roxas should also be credited for conceding the race to Duterte—who should similarly be commended for calling early on for healing and unity for the nation’s good.

The most memorable “moment” in the elections and their immediate aftermath was the conceded victor’s uncharacteristically emotional visit to the resting place of his parents.

He finally gave way to the deep feelings engendered by his phenomenal and controversial rise to the top of the country’s political pantheon.

The self-confessed mama’s boy wept as he asked them for guidance and strength in solving the country’s many festering problems, as he had promised to do during the campaign.

Now that the reality and gravity of the task had presented itself, his human and personal side became vulnerably accessible to viewers who were grateful for this deeper insight into the man they had just chosen for their next leader.

As for the much more tightly-fought race for vice president between Leni Robredo and Bongbong Marcos, the automated nature of the election process similarly helped cool down partisan passions, as detailed updates on how the separate regions voted showed where the new votes were coming from—and that helped explain Robredo’s overnight rally.

Other instructive observations: The networks’ extensive coverage of the polls bared their respective organizational strengths and weaknesses.

Since reporters had to be sent to different regions and cities all over the country, the networks’ lineup of on-cam staffers and stringers was stretched to the limit, the strain occasionally showed.

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The main problems were related to the lack of experience and training, as well as the relative inability of many to ad-lib reports to keep up with unexpected and thus “unscriptable” developments.

The problem was exacerbated by studio anchors who came up with follow-up questions and demands for details that some reporters were hard-put to provide on the spot.

All told, however, the networks did go out of their way to serve the viewing and voting public, so we thank them—and hope they train their personnel to do even better, three years from now.

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TAGS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, Election coverage, Elections 2016, leni robredo, Rodrigo Duterte, Television, Television coverage
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