For Jessica Soho, content still king in age of social media
In the age of social media, anyone with a cellphone and access to the internet can create content and build a following.And with a myriad alternative sources of information and entertainment vying for people’s clicks, how does a mainstream magazine show like “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” (KMJS) reassert its position as a reliable source?
The award-winning journalist Jessica Soho recognizes that technology has reshaped the media landscape and the way journalism is practiced. But just the same, the basic tenets of journalism—“accuracy, fairness, responsibility”—continue to guide her process.
“There aren’t simply rules; these are values and what journalism is about,” Soho told the Inquirer in an email interview. “‘KMJS’ is a news magazine program and we’re bound by the values we uphold as journalists. I have been one for 38 years. While it doesn’t get any easier, I still try to do my best to help produce content that hopefully sustains us as a trusted brand.”
But despite the changes in how or where data are sourced, it all boils down to the content and how it’s laid out, Soho said. She believes that mainstream media still has the necessary tools to better vet and package stories.
“Who said or who told it better? Which one is true and went through the rigorous process of being proofread, fact-checked, edited or revised? Which one is a random annotation of experience? Mainstream media has the tools and equipment to keep improvising and differentiating itself from social media,” she said.
“I like what some news organizations are now trying to do online—giving context, processing data, using good graphics and improving presentation,” she said. “If I’m not mistaken, this was what one of my journalism professors, Mang Louie Beltran, tried teaching us back in the 1980s: interpretative journalism: Aside from the ‘what, where and when,’ you explain the ‘hows and whys’—but still based on facts.”
These days, “KMJS,” which airs Sunday nights on GMA 7, produces around six to seven stories. Some are their own ideas or pitches, others are crowdsourced. “The stories come to us,” Soho said.
And of the countless stories the show has featured since 2004, the ones that have made a palpable impact on people’s lives stand out the most for Soho.
There’s the story of an Antiqueño boy named Daxxen, whose eyes bled and who contracted blisters all over his body because of an allergic reaction to an epilepsy medicine; and of Ranelyn, a malnourished girl on the brink of death whose only dream was to wear her favorite dress.
After their stories were aired, medical help and donations poured in. Daxxen and Ranelyn are now on the mend and determined to get their lives back on track. These stories also received recognition from the New York Festivals, a media and arts award-giving body in the United States.
Soho is also proud of their stories that reunited estranged family members and victims of baby-switching. “Stories are powerful … they give hope and change lives,” she said. “As our acting program manager Tolits Tan said, ‘Para sa nangangailangan, ang tanging pinanghahawakan nilang pag-asa sa buhay ay ang kanilang kwento,’” she related.
Soho recently renewed her contract with GMA 7. In her 38 years with the network, the veteran journalist became a driving force behind notable public affairs shows like “I-Witness,” “Emergency” and “Brigada Siete.” She has also earned numerous recognitions and helped bag for the network the prestigious Peabody Award for investigative reporting in 1999.
“I promise to continue sharing my ideas and pitching storylines and program concepts as well as mentoring our production staff. My colleagues will bear me out on this—hindi ako madamot,” Soho said.
And while journalism is her core competence, Soho recently branched out to entertainment, conceptualizing the 2022 primetime series “Lolong.” “I discovered that I like conceptualizing stories and storylines for other genres and formats,” said Soho, who keeps her mind active through reading and watching the occasional K-Dramas on Netflix and shows like HBO’s “Succession.”
“I try to keep up with what’s happening because that has always been my advice to our reporters and producers: It’s our business to know,” she added.
As part of Soho’s contract renewal, a digital archive of her award-winning stories will soon be put up. And she hopes to continue telling more “KMJS.” “For as long as I can … I would like to keep telling stories about who we are: stories that inspire, help, bring people together and give hope and change lives,” she said.
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