Media Newser Philippines' Media Winners and Losers of 2016

By Media Newser Philippines | Friday, January 20, 2017

As a tradition here on Media Newser Philippines, at the beginning of every year we take a step back and look at the past 12 months to see who or what comprise our annual Winners and Losers lists.

For 2016, we have a number of new entrants and returnees, as well as a “non-journalist” who has waged a war against the local and international media.

In this exercise, we are also including those journalists who have contributed to the local news industry; programs which have served a particular purpose especially in this last election; and organizations which simply should be celebrated and honored for their excellence in journalism.

Without further ado, here's our Media Winners and Losers for the year 2016.

Background: Ruth Dial
Images: CNN Philippines, Solar News

CNN Philippines, Armie Jarin-Bennett, Pal Marquez & co.

CNN Philippines is no longer a "Chicken Noodle Network" under the helm of Emmy award-winning CNN veteran Armie Jarin-Bennett. Aside from reshaping it into a more news-conscious network, Jarin-Bennett, with the help of veteran newsman Pal Marquez, also brought in the principles that have made CNN an important global news brand.

Within the last twelve months, the network has strengthened its reporting considerably with more beefy coverage of breaking news events — they were the first to break the story of the surprise burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos — major news events — the Philippine election and inaugurations of President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo — as well as investigative reporting and newsmaking interviews anchored by its high-caliber on-air team, which includes Pia Hontiveros, Pinky Webb, Claire Celdran, Amelyn Veloso, Mitzi Borromeo, Ruth Cabal and many others.

Not to mention, the network also gave us the best political debate of the 2016 election cycle – the third and only VP PiliPinas Debate — so good that viewers were left asking for more.

"Trust is earned, not given," Nine Media Corp. President Armie Jarin-Bennett acknowledged in a speech in October, adding that they “will continue to provide information you can trust on TV and digital platforms."

2017 will surely be one for the books with a dramatic political climate promising an exciting and challenging six years under the Duterte administration. Expect CNN Philippines to continue to be one of the key players in the local news industry this year.

Images: Nadia Trinidad, ABS-CBN
Logo: ANC

ABS-CBN News Channel, Ging Reyes, Nadia Trinidad, Cilette Liboro-Co & co.

ANC is once again among our media winners for the third year in a row, and deservedly so.

The ABS-CBN News Channel, which marked its 20th year in 2016, continued its dominance in Philippine television as the leading news channel among the country’s decision and policy makers, as well as business and opinion leaders.

Even with a growing battle for supremacy in the 24/7 news cycle, ANC remained an oasis of stability, the one-stop shop for local and international news, business news, current affairs, and information of all kinds, delivered by its powerhouse team of journalists composed of Tina Monzon-Palma, Cathy Yang, Karen Davila, Nancy Irlanda, Ron Cruz, Gigi Grande, Tony Velasquez, David Celdran, and many others.

In addition to mounting a 48-hour non-stop coverage of the May election, the ANC team led by Ging Reyes, Nadia Trinidad and Cilette Liboro-Co have been relentless in their journalistic mission of delivering around-the-clock news coverage of events here and abroad — running tons of stories spanning hours of airtime about the Brexit, the situation in Allepo and the U.S. presidential election.

In our review of the network’s coverage of the November 8 match up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, we wrote: “The Kapamilya news channel not only gave us an outstanding and insightful election coverage, but it once again proved that when it comes to reportage of any global events, ANC is just as capable as any of the international news channels.”

Pinky Webb

Former ABS-CBN News Channel anchor Pinky Webb proved to be a crucial voice this last election — joining the local CNN station just as the coverage of the campaign season began in earnest.

In addition to heading up her own newscast, Balitaan, which has since become an aggressive competitor in the always-tight noontime news race, Webb has been rediscovered as a first-rate journalist and terrific interviewer in a series of one-on-ones with the likes of Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr., Senators Leila De Lima and Dick Gordon, and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on her morning interview program The Source.

Ending what has been a productive year for her and her new television home, Webb just three weeks ago had a sit-down interview with President Rodrigo Duterte — representing her network in an unprecedented TV event along with other journalism heavyweights: Maria Ressa, Jessica Soho, Luchi Cruz-Valdes and Lynda Jumilla.

Images:, ABS-CBN, Mel Sta. Maria

Ces Oreña-Drilon, Ed Lingao and Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Sam Stein, senior political editor for the Huffington Post, recently told Poynter that one of biggest lessons for journalists from the U.S. election is that “sometimes it helps to just call BS when you see it.”

Because of the well-oiled social media machinery of some paid propagandists and historical revisionists — where cyberbullying comes into play whenever one disagrees with their political orthodoxy — journalists/broadcasters these days often choose to stay quiet.

But not ABS-CBN's Ces Oreña-Drilon and TV5's Ed Lingao and Mel Sta. Maria. Even when these blind followers try to mob them on social media, often calling them "bias(ed)," "bayaran," and "dilawan," all three of them didn't even flinch.

When President Duterte initiated the burying of Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, asserting that it would allow the healing of the nation, all three of them were quick to point out the late dictator’s record of human rights abuses, as well as his ill-gotten wealth.

“YOU WANT him buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani? Very well, but on the headstone, put the name William Saunders. That is the name he used to open his first Swiss account, that later mushroomed to a dozen,” Lingao wrote in a viral Facebook post.

Sta. Maria, a legal analyst for the Kapatid Network, also argued that burying Marcos there would violate the law, writing in a piece for InterAksyon: “To honor him, despite the recovery of billions of ill-gotten wealth (which is still on-going) and in spite of the unequivocal public-policy-recognition of the savagery of his regime against his own countrymen/women, is to render absurd Republic Act Number 289 and desecrate the ‘Libingan ng mga Bayani.’”

Oreña-Drilon, for her part, had done a series of investigative reports debunking Marcos’ war myth, concluding that his tales of heroism are full of lies, while remaining vocal on social media against historical revisionism.

Bev Llorente

From Manny Pacquiao's fight with Jesse Vargas in November to the 2016 U.S. primary and general elections, Bev Llorente was front and center to some of the biggest news stories of the past year.

Also last year, the freelance reporter for ABS-CBN News snagged a rare one-on-one interview with 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in which she talked about what would've been a close involvement of Filipino-Americans in her administration.

The former secretary of state was also pressed to discuss the Philippines' territorial dispute with China, where we got a glimpse of what would've been a stronger alliance between the two longtime partners had Clinton won the November 8 contest.

With growing uncertainty among Filipino-Americans over incoming President Donald Trump's immigration policy, as well as President Duterte’s anti-West rhetoric, expect Llorente to remain as one of the leading voices of our kababayans in the U.S. this 2017.

Wanted President

As the news cycle last year shifted towards the presidential candidates, GMA-7 decided to add its election special, Wanted: President, to its top-rated Sunday primetime block.

With a series of one-on-one interviews, with a treatment similar to that of a job interview, Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez grilled the presidentiables with both policy and personal questions — giving viewers a clearer understanding of the breadth and depth of their character, capability, and leadership to a greater extent.

Mar Roxas, for example, was asked about his judgment and temperament, while then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was put to task to answer questions about his alleged human rights abuses as well as his dangerous rhetoric.

Jejomar Binay, for his part, was pressed about those corruption charges filed against him and his family, while also asked to open up about his married life with wife Elenita Binay.

Wanted President, which was reminiscent of the 2003 Bio Data series, was created by GMA Public Affairs Head Nessa Valdellon, who, for the past two years, had been part of this very same list.

The World Tonight

Even as it reached another milestone — marking its 50th year — no one at The World Tonight rested on their laurels in 2016.

Continuing its mission of delivering some good old-fashioned reporting, commentary, and storytelling to Filipino audiences, The Word Tonight remained the country's premier evening newscast — the place on television where viewers can get the best summary of day's news, locally and internationally.

From extensive coverage of the divisive Philippine election in May to the long and grueling primary and general elections in the United States, the program's production team led by veteran journalist Jove Francisco – also the EP of the now-defunct #NoFilter — pulled off another strong year.

Viewers and critics have often chided the 6:30PM newscasts for pandering to their audiences. Simply put, leaning more towards tabloid-y content to boost their ratings.

For anchor Tina Monzon-Palma and co., their journalistically principled approach blends well with the program’s legacy where reporting should be done at a very high level — setting a standard we hope others will follow.

A photo posted by Jove Francisco (@jovefrancisco) on

Cathy Yang

It's impossible to go through this list without again acknowledging Cathy Yang for her tremendous work and contribution to the industry this past year.

Aside from being a regular presence on ANC’s top news programs — Market Edge, Business Nightly, The World Tonight and The Boss — the country’s chief purveyor of business news has expanded her power base within the Kapamilya news division.

From moderating the ABS-CBN News Channel’s first Asian Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, which featured philanthropist and business magnate Sir Richard Branson, and its own hour-long specials — Doing Business Under The New Normal, The Overseas Vote — Yang has also led many of the network’s major news coverage — the inauguration of President Duterte and his first State of the Nation Address — while continuing filing her enterprise news stories for ABS-CBN news programs TV Patrol and Bandila.

And just before the year ended, Yang once again made history after earning a nomination at what is considered to be the most prestigious award-giving body in Asian television, Asian TV Awards, for the category of Best News Anchor — the same award which she took home for three consecutive years, from 2001–2003.


Luchi Cruz-Valdes for her noteworthy performance as debate moderator of the 2nd PiliPinas Debate
Chiara Zambrano for her outstanding reporting on the situation in the West Philippines Sea and the conflict in Lanao del Sur
■ Jamela Alindogan for serving as an important voice in this post-truth era
ABS-CBN Global newsers Yong Chavez, Don Tagala, Rommel Conclara, Jared Bray and Steve Angeles
Nessa Valdellon and GMA Public Affairs
History with Lourd
Maria Ressa and the Rappler team


Mocha Uson 

Admittedly and evidently “NOT a Journalist,” Mocha Uson gained notoriety in 2016 not just as the chief propagandist this last election, but also as the local media’s enemy No. 1.

From calling them “bayaran” and “bias(ed)” to using the term “presstitutes” to describe news outlets such as ABS-CBN, GMA-7, Rappler and Philippine Daily Inquirer to accusing the international media of destabilizing the country, the Z-list showbiz entertainer has been tireless in her smear campaign against the media.

Now a columnist for The Philippine Star — surprisingly a welcome move since Filipinos can now hold her accountable if she once again misrepresents a story or spread hate and lies – and a board member for the Movie And Television Review And Classification Board, Uson aims to continue shoving her political and ideological views down to our throats. Not to mention, leads a character assassination against anyone who disagrees with her and President Duterte’s policies.

American news anchor Scott Pelley of CBS News (Mocha, please don’t call him “dilawan”) recently said in an interview that the dividing line in media today is the difference between journalism and junk.

We have seen that both here and in the U.S. with the rapid proliferation of trolls, fake news and fake journalists/messengers such as Ms. Uson.

This 2017, we hope the media will be more aggressive in pushing back against her ridiculous and repeated attacks, and also begin an aggressive approach in countering disinformation and fake news online.

And like what Pelley suggested, the media should begin utilizing “the values that the likes of Walter Cronkite” and many other news legends lived — “to look at a story and ask yourself: Is it right, is it fair, is it honest?”

TFC's Balitang America

Balitang America has played a valuable role in the lives of millions of our kababayans in the U.S. — becoming an important program which mission is to deliver news that matters to every Filipino-American.

Created by then-North America bureau chief Ging Reyes, the program has chronicled some of the biggest events in America, including the 2008 election and the eventual inauguration of President Barack Obama, among others.

It has also been the home of some of the best video journalists in the business today like Yong Chavez, Don Tagala, Steve Angeles, and Bev Llorente, just to name a few.

But that was then. What about now? These past few years, and specifically this 2016, the program lost its brand and identity as it has morphed into an infotainment program with a more soft news approach, e.g. its long filler segment Share That With Cher Calvin, which at times airs longer than any news stories of significance to the Fil-Am community.

The program has also stopped chasing big stories the "TFC Way," with some of their correspondents began relying on newswires footages as seen in their reporting in this last U.S. election cycle.

GMA-7's PiliPinas Debate

Hosting a presidential debate wasn't an easy task for any network, and it sure wasn't for GMA-7 — the first among the local television networks to host the Comelec-sanctioned PiliPinas Debates series.

All eyes were on the production team of the Kapuso Network given their history of producing high-quality debates in the past election cycles — like 2010's Isang Tanong — and on GMA News pillars Jessica Soho and Mike Enriquez, who moderated the debate.

But things didn't go quite well for the inaugural debate as it failed to meet expectations. For one, it didn't appear to be an actual debate which could’ve opened substantive policy discussions between the presidential aspirants.

Rather, it was a boring forum which had a cringeworthy format similar to that of a game show, a beauty pageant, or as a Nicole Curato aptly described it — a speed dating.

There's also no shortage of bad reviews of Enriquez's lousy performance as co-moderator, with viewers mocking his inability to take control of the debate, and his seemingly off-the-cuff remarks and off-color jokes.

Images: Rogue, Inquirer
Logo: PTV4

People's Television Network

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar in June had promised bold moves to remodel PTV4, saying that they would turn it into an “independent media network” patterned after the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) and the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).

He also said that the state-owned government station under this new administration would "strive to work in having editorial independence," acknowledging that while “it’s going to be a tough battle,” it’s achievable.

But things wouldn't turn out this way as PTV4 evolved into a more partisan network, a mouthpiece of the government which main objective is to prop up Duterte’s presidency.

In November for example, PTV4 opted to skip the primetime coverage of the anti-Marcos burial protest at the Edsa People Power Monument in Quezon City — said to be a decision from a higher-up in Malacañang.

They also began restricting the news coverage of two of the most vocal critics of Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs — Senator Leila De Lima and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Image: Patrick Roque
Logo: GMA News TV


GMA News TV started off with a great promise and that is to bring GMA News’ sensibility to the network it replaced almost six years ago — QTV Channel 11.

Add to its appeal is that, unlike ANC, it airs in free television — guarantying that it could and would reach a much broader market and more potential eyeballs.

Over the years, the network, which originally was under the stewardship of legendary news producer Nessa Valdellon, would impress its audience, as well as television critics, with its top-notch programming ranging from news — State of the Nation, News To Go, Quick Response Team — to public affairs — Bawal Ang Pasaway, Investigative Documentaries, iJuander — to coverage of breaking news and live events, e.g. the Senate hearings.

In retrospect, News TV was considered to be a legitimate news channel.

This 2016 and the years before that, however, the network started airing scripted programming such as local TV dramas and Koreanovelas. It has also shunned its around-the-lock news coverage in lieu of home shopping programming.

The sad truth is that News TV is no longer the once-promising news channel Ms. Valdellon envisioned it to be, and at this point, the top honchos at the Kapuso Network — Felipe Gozon and Jimmy Duavit — should be worried about the direction it's taking.


■ Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr. for his distasteful Nazi-themed remarks and for body-shaming a lady senator. Need we say more?
■ Aksyon Sa Tanghali
■ T3: The Tulfo Brothers

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