In Business Day, there was a strict rule governing receiving favors from people who are –or potentially could be–subject of the news.
Our most eminent publisher Raul Locsin imposed a non-negotiable rule on this: We will pay for the coffee, lunch or dinner of sources we interview. We are not to ingratiate ourselves, when offered cash, we are to donate the cash to a named charity, in the name of the company or government department where the giver of cash belongs. In case the source is an intermediary or a mere representative, this will also expose his dishonesty in case the un-receipted amount he or she gave the reporter or reporters is less than what he declared to his superiors.
When Business Day closed, we both became part of the pioneering staff of the now defunct Business Star where I was Chief of Reporters. Thanks to our also eminent publisher Gaby Manalac, we were encouraged to continue the practice of ethical journalism. We also hired mostly fresh graduates and journalists with proven professional probity. We encouraged independent coverage as against pack reporting which was the norm then as it is to a certain extent, now.
Having free rein to cover the news brought out the best in Raissa. She got the big stories and despite our limited circulation, she did earn the awe and respect of the business community on the one hand and the anger and spite of those exposed for wrongdoing.
Raissa is the scholastic type, always circumspect and even self-effacing. She has always been very passionate and serious about her craft and her profession. She always lived within her means, was never conscious about being trendy. She shares a love for good food with husband Alan and had once put up a restaurant called “Bakers St.” along Mabini where she made me sample her specialty “Hungarian Goulash“.
But even if she loves good food, don’t get ideas. I invited her once, long time ago, with client IBM for a friendly lunch and she insisted on paying for her share. But she did not have a credit card and the restaurant did not accept payment by ATM card so she had to go out of the building to withdraw the money.
Raissa reminds me of what a mentor once told me. Quoting Joseph Pulitzer, he said “Newspapers should have no friends.”
Even I will hesitate to call Raissa my “friend”–at least not when she is practicing journalism. I think our good “friend” Bobi Tiglao knows that too well….
Raissa, I am so proud of you!
Thanks for reading !