The news mentors
Behind every story and reporter that has made a mark in the media industry is a pool of editors who helps build not just the stories for the day but the future of the people who write them.
The editors, whose names you less likely hear of, spend numerous hours making sure that the reporters’ narratives are factual, ethical and significant.
For 20 years now, Cebu Daily News (CDN) has been the home of talented people whose job basically involves developing story and content ideas for the paper and then working with writers for the success of these stories.
The editors meticulously read content to correct for errors and sometimes rewrite copy to make it easier for the readers to understand.
At CDN, reporters consider their editors as mentors who oversee their growth in the industry.
Editor-in-Chief Edralyn Benedicto, leads the CDN editorial team which includes the following: Enrico Gabuya, managing editor; Dennis Singson, Business; Mimi Lijauco and her assistant editor Niza Mariñas for Lifestyle; Brian Mikhael Ochoa, Sports; Stephen Bernard Capillas, Opinion; Tito Tan, Community; Ador Vincent Mayol, acting Day Desk editor, and Central Desk Supervisor Doris Bongcac.
Former television personalities, Lawyer Piedad “Bingo” Gonzalez and Rosemarie Holganza-Borromeo, are the newspaper’s contributing editors.
Gonzalez handles the main news page of the paper including the banner story at times; while Holganza-Borromeo, handles news and features.
Borromeo was the editor of “Untangling the Gridlock” — a pooled report by the CDN team which was the champion of Mega Cebu’s Investigative Journalism contest last October.
In the eighth part of the series, we will get to know more about the people behind the news items that appear on the pages of CDN.
In her over two-decade journey with the Inquirer Group, Edralyn Benedicto has been to most regions of the Philippines.
But it is CDN that the 58-year-old EIC would not want to leave.
“You become a part of a family. That is when I realized that once a ‘Siloy’, you will always be a ‘Siloy.’ There is something different about the camaraderie, respect, friendship, and companionship built in CDN. I never felt that kind of bond elsewhere that the people of CDN have,” Benedicto said.
Although Benedicto, then Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) Visayas Bureau Chief, was part of the group that started CDN in 1998, she was installed as EIC of the paper only in February 2016 “on loan” from her PDI bosses and her work with the national daily.
People in the newsroom consider Benedicto as their work “mother” who is consistent to discipline erring reporters but just as quick to praise good work.
“Mother,” as she is fondly called by many, directs everyone to do their best at all times because “a reporter is only as good as the last story he writes,” said Benedicto.
Enrico Gabuya was among the pioneering editors of CDN when the newspaper started to operate more than 20 years ago.
He handled the sports section until early 2018 when he was pulled out of his comfort zone and began to work with reporters on main news stories.
Having been with the paper since its birth, Gabuya said that he enjoyed seeing innovations made by CDN eventually adapted by other publications.
Among the practices introduced by CDN are the compact size of the paper, the decluttering of the front page from four to five stories to only one or two, and the layout with large photos that show more action especially in the sports section.
Gabuya said the growth of the paper is reflected even in his career from editing sports stories to closing pages containing main news.
“Struggle pod to nako because I have been with sports for 20 years. Sa Sports kahibaw na ka unsay dagan sa storya basta basketball, baseball, swimming… Sa main news, lahi. Lain-lain ang atake, lain lain ang issues (It was also a struggle for me because I have been with sports for 20 years. In Sports, I already know how the story goes in basketball, baseball, swimming. But main news is different because you attack issues from many angles),” said Gabuya.
Dennis Singson, who studied engineering, found himself at the realm of journalism since the start of CDN.
He started as a proofreader before he eventually started to layout pages of the paper.
Before handling the business section, Singson used to be the “sub” (substitute) editor for any page and section.
“Hinay-hinay, mo-sub ko sa uban sections (Slowly, I became a sub for the other sections). Then I became the assistant business editor,” said Singson.
“Maninguha lang gyod ka ug dapat open ka sa ideas (You just have to do your best and be open to ideas),” he added.
Like Singson, Tito Tan also started in CDN as a proofreader in 1998.
Tan, the all-smiles editor in the newsroom, is an Accounting major who worked his way up to being a copy editor alternating with Singson until he started to handle the community section and main news pages.
Tan also used to be the copy editor of the Cebuano version of Bandera, a sister tabloid of CDN.
After two decades with the newspaper, Tan said that he never thought of leaving CDN because of the professional growth that he felt working in the company.
Lijauco and Mariñas
Mimi Lijauco and Niza Mariñas, who were colleagues in a weekly lifestyle magazine, have always been partners even before they began to work with CDN.
Lijauco has been the editor of the lifestyle section since CDN’s first operation in February 1998.
Her leadership in the Life! section led to the creation of CDN’s now popular thematic and stylish approach in the newspaper’s lifestyle stories.
Mariñas, for her part, started as a main news copy editor and opinion editor for CDN.
At 23, she was then the youngest editor working for the paper.
“I had zero background in news kay lifestyle baya ko ( because I was always in lifestyle) before. I was copy editor but on the side, I was also the opinion editor. In 2004, I was transferred to the lifestyle section as assistant editor,” Mariñas recounted.
“It’s really the people you work with. CDN is home, second home to me.
There was never a point in the stretch that I thought of leaving,” she said.
Brian Ochoa grew up seeing himself in a white seafarer’s uniform.
Never did he imagine ending up editing stories for the Sports and Motoring sections of the paper.
“I was waiting for calls from shipping companies because I’m a Nautical graduate. While waiting, my brother who was with Inquirer encouraged me to write stories for the sports section so that I will have some money for my snacks,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa, a sports and automobile enthusiast, eventually let go of his seafarer’s dream after falling in love with his work as a reporter for the sports and motoring sections of CDN since 2002.
Having no background or formal training in writing, Ochoa learned his skills on the field.
“I was lucky because my brother, who was based in Manila, really guided me. Crash course gyod. Usahay ma-disappoint ko kay akong raw, inig print usab gyod tanan (It was really a crash course. Sometimes I’d be disappointed because my raw copy completely changes during print),” recalled Ochoa.
Today, Ochoa does not only look for stories pertaining to Sports but also brainstorms with other editors during daily story conferences to discuss headline ideas and other news items with the CDN audiences in mind.
Central Desk Supervisor,
Doris Bongcac literally grew up with the paper.
Bongcac was only 19 years old and was on her third year in college, when she found herself working as an intern of Cebu Daily News in March 1998.
Past her internship, Bongcac continued to write for CDN as a correspondent.
After three years, she became a full-time reporter for the paper handling most of the beats including Capitol, Cebu City Hall, Police, and the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.
She became chief of reporters in 2010 and eventually Day Desk Editor after over a year.
She is currently the designated Central Desk Supervisor of the paper and sometimes brings her 8-year-old daughter, Iona, to work with her.
Having to grow up with the paper herself, Bongcac said she loves seeing the younger generation of journalists venture into the same path she took 20 years ago.
Known to be the primary organizer of religious activities for the Press, Ador Vincent Mayol is often referred to as the “monsignor of CDN” and Cebu media.
Even as day desk editor of CDN, Mayol still continues to go out on coverage especially those relating to the Catholic Church.
Mayol, who has won for CDN numerous local and national journalism awards, has been flying under the Siloy’s wings for 9 years.
Like Bongcac, Mayol started as an intern of CDN.
Mayol, however, barely got a passing grade during his internship due to what he, himself, admits to be a “poor performance” then.
Perseverance and hard work have brought Mayol and his works to a pedestal of glory — reaping several accolades through the years including the Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA), Cebu Archdiocesan Mass Media Award (CAMMA), Globe Media Excellence Awards (GMEA) and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Mega Cebu investigative news competition.
Now, Mayol himself supervised the internships of at least three current CDN reporters who, like him, also once spent their internships with CDN.
(To be continued)
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