How Jiggy and Pia handle lying interviewees
I have fond memories of my “kiddie newscaster” days in “Junior Newswatch” many headlines ago. That’s why I am in awe of broadcast journalists like Jiggy Manicad and Pia Arcangel.
They anchor the primetime newscast of GMA 7, “24 Oras Weekend,” which reigns supreme in the ratings game. The seasoned news reporters have gained the respect of viewers because they always go above and beyond the call of duty. They somehow make “bad news days” more bearable with the way they light up our TV screens.
Here’s my chat with Jiggy (J) and Pia (P):
What was your most difficult coverage?
J: Being on the Base Camp of Mount Everest in 2006. We trekked for 11 days to be able to acclimatize well, and had to shoot, edit and report in harsh conditions for the next 20 days without taking a bath, as the temperature there was below zero. But, [that particular coverage] made history for GMA 7—from a simple concept that my friend, Roel Chan, and I hatched back then.
P: Pope John Paul II’s funeral. It was my first international assignment, and I was covering such an important event without a cameraman. We were a two-person news team sent to cover the funeral at the very last minute.
My only companion was our satellite guy, in charge of setting up our live points for the newscasts back in Manila. So, I would go out to shoot and cover on my own, and we would only meet up for each live broadcast. Plus, the time zone was different, so I was working with hardly any sleep.
How do you handle it when you know that your interviewee is lying?
J: As calmly as possible. I make them feel that I agree, then I ask them the hard questions. This is one way of letting them know that people, whether journalists or not, are not stupid.
P: I keep pushing until I am satisfied that viewers will be able to come to their own conclusion about whether or not the interviewee is telling the truth.
What news item impacted you the most and why?
J: Every news story I cover has its own distinct identity. Everything has its specific impact to me as a person. The bottom line is that, as a journalist and a Filipino, there has to be more compassion, more room in ourselves to help other people.
P: That would be when Typhoon “Ondoy” and Super Typhoon “Yolanda” hit. Ondoy—because it hit so close to home, and so many friends and relatives were affected by it. Yolanda—because of its sheer impact on those who were directly hit.
Who is your favorite interviewee and why?
J: The common people, because they’re honest and have no pretensions. You want the truth, go to them. They will share not only their stories, but will also show you their soul, even share their food.
P: I always enjoyed interviewing the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, for the simple reason that she was always candid and straightforward with her answers.
Who’s your dream interviewee?
J: Pope Francis.
P: Pope Francis! I’d love to ask him about his faith and how it has been tested and what he has done to keep it strong.
What’s the best and toughest part of being a news anchor?
J: The tough part is to dress up and project on-cam. As a journalist who “grew up” on the streets, I think my peers will agree that we’re just simple people out to work every day. We are journalists to the core.
P: The best part is you have a front-row seat to history as it unfolds. The toughest part—
If you were not a news anchor, what career would you have pursued?
J: I would have been a car mechanic. That is my dream until now, which has been on hold for the last three decades.
P: Teaching. My mom’s an educator, and she would take me with her to her weekend classes when I was a kid—I was always fascinated with the idea of imparting knowledge and shaping young people’s minds.
What’s your advice to aspiring news anchors?
J: News reporting/anchoring isn’t about fame, fortune and glory. Journalism is public service. Period.
P: Read up and know your news inside-out. When you’re a news anchor, you have to have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the news—this will help you ask the right questions and focus on the right issues.
If your life story were compressed into a headline, what would it be?
J: “The Accidental Journalist.”
P: “Small Girl Dreams Big.”