"When I got accepted as a reporter. . .I gained firsthand experience of how a journalist's personal values and conviction are constantly tested, day in and day out. . . Of how some people would go out of their way to buy your soul for a good word or two." Those few words from Anjie Blardony Ureta's personal statement summed up precisely her mantra, as she's gained her reputation as a socially and environmentally conscious Philippino journalist whose ethics are beyond reproach.
Ureta, who for four months is traveling through the United States with the World Press Institute of Macalester College, has been working in the world of journalism since she was 19. At 31, she has moved her way up from beat reporter to editing, and now serves as Executive Producer of The Inside Story, a weekly national news magazine, similar to 20/20 or 60 Minutes. While in the United States, she intends to broaden her education and expertise.
In her years as a journalist, she's interviewed national as well as international figures, but although she's traveled internationally, covering events in the United States and Russia for the Philippino media, her true mission is not to report the front page news of political and public figures, stories that serve to document the history of her country and the world, but rather, her self-proclaimed crusade is to advocate consciousness, awareness, and most importantly, values; the things that cultures are made of.
Since her first article was published in a national newspaper, on the topic of the poor living conditions of animals at the Manila Zoo, environmental issues have been a top concern for Ureta. Now, as associate producer of Earthlink, a first of its kind quarterly environmental documentary for which she has won awards in the Philippines, she has worked tirelessly to bring environmental issues to the forefront.
The environment and her Philippino culture are two of Ureta's most important concerns. Through her career in the media, she works toward raising the national consciousness. She commented that the one consuming goal that has led her to where she is now, is to teach and educate her people about their own culture. After being passed around from country to country as a colony for 400 years, she feels it's her calling to emphasize the aspects of her culture that have emerged as fundamentally Philippino.
Societal issues are also a driving force in Ureta's quest to educate and advocate. Although public opinion on a woman's role in society is gradually changing in the Philippines, Ureta has fought her own personal battles for independence.
Ureta said that complete objectivity is perhaps an impossible dream; but even so, Ureta and her colleagues refuse to report in any other way but as objectively as possible, presenting both sides of the story and giving their viewers the ability to form their own opinions. Ureta mentioned there are some issues that they must make a stand on, such as domestic abuse, but the viewers have the right to agree or disagree.
With 20 people working under her, Ureta commented that even though they are still young, she and two of her colleagues feel like the senior citizens at The Inside Story, as most of the writers aren't more than 24 years old. She calls her small desk in the corner "the confessional" because she often finds her reporters sitting across from her with various problems they have run into.
Ureta mentioned that she'd like to retire early and write books. "I'm sure I'll write about my foreign experiences," Ureta said. She keeps a journal, but said she doesn't write about her experiences immediately upon her return to the Philippines. "I'm lazy," she laughed. "I'm a Leo. I like lying down in my lair." She prefers to let the experiences rest in her mind, taking them in and contemplating them for a while, until she feels she has soaked in enough to portray a complete picture.
With the many facets of her career, and the part she has, and continues to play in the Philippines as well as world media, nothing sums up better than her comments in a World Press Institute brochure. ĎIn a profession that has to deal with scandals and misery on a daily basis, most people expect me to be jaded. (But) like the proverbial lone candle that can dispel the darkness, I still believe that one voice can make a difference, that there is inherent good in our leaders and our people, and that the good should be allowed to shine through.'
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