Aesthetic-wise, Newsroom remained the same program used to be anchored by Jing Magsaysay and Mai Rodriguez, but content-wise it has become a strong and solid broadcast packed with more original reporting and a right balance of hard news and features.
To give you a sense of the progress that has been made, we decided to watch its March 16 broadcast, the same day wherein CNN Philippines marked its one-year anniversary.
On that very same day, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee held a hearing on the 81-million money laundering scandal, so as expected the newscast devoted multiple reports on that, including one from Rex Remitio.
After a short live exchange, Celdran then segued to the campaign trail and whipped through the scheduled sorties of the presidential candidates, followed by Anjo Alimario's report on a group of petitioners who are seeking the reversal of the Supreme Court's decision that allows Senator Grace Poe to run for the presidency.
Perhaps the only thing that was missing that day, which had become a regular component of the newscast since the reformat in February, was the cross-talk between Celdran and the correspondents. As what we've seen in the past, Celdran is not only capable at reading the headlines, but she is also at her best doing one-on-one exchanges. If they really want to set Newsroom apart from its noontime counterparts then they should continue capitalizing on her interviewing skills.
Later on the broadcast, Celdran featured a story about a study which finds Filipinos as among the most emotional people in the world. Therein she closed the last portion with a lighthearted feature from CNN International's Jeanne Moos about those Fox News pundits telling Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to smile.
Last year at this time and up to the very day Jing Magsaysay step down from the anchor chair, Newsroom, just like any other CNN Philippines newscasts, has been unsuccessful at making a dent in the ratings and public perception.
But the tide seems to be changing, and the program seems to be finding its feet as of late, thanks largely to Celdran.
One of our readers wrote: "The addition of Claire Celdran was symbolic in many ways that they are making conscious effort to strengthen their station. I think seeing her on Newsroom was the best decision they could've ever made."
And another: "I think if I am going to rank them [Newsroom editions] I should say the morning and afternoon editions are really good. Claire Celdran is really a commanding presence. I am very glad they gave her a solo newscast."
Whether or not the program's production team and the management now being led by CNN veteran Armie Jarin-Bennett have the ability to reap the benefits of the newscast's newfound momentum remains to be seen.
For now, Celdran, who is a talented and respectable journalist, has successfully raised Newsroom's standing in the crowded noontime news race. That alone itself is a welcome development.
Soon: our New Day program review