Attending one of the earlier press conferences of President-elect Rody Duterte, I could overhear some of the national media reporters wondering what time he would arrive and what would happen if he came in after their deadlines. In frantic tones becoming more panicked as the minutes ticked by, each of them were asking the asking the same question – “anong ire-report natin?”
In the succeeding days after the elections, the same scene was repeated again and again in Davao – masses of reporters looking for something to talk about. It even came to the point where someone actually did a story about the chair that Duterte sat on when he cast his ballot.
While all this was happening, people were wondering where was the President? Is he sick? Is there something wrong? Speculations where flying fast and furious, many of them fueled by his vanquished opponents.
And just as suddenly as he vanished, he came out. At 1am. Media outlets scrambled, reporters were roused from their beds for an impromptu briefing that did not disappoint. He spoke candidly and at length about many of his plans and programs, about his thoughts on the campaign, about anything at all that he wanted to say. And the hungry media took it all in.
In subsequent interviews and press conferences, the usual question and answer format was turned on its head. Now, instrad of being bombarded with questions, the President speaks and the media listen. He says what is on his mind – from his grand plans to minute details – and it is up to them to pick up what is important.
While his critics point to this a another weakness of the Duterte style of leadership, the results clearly show that it is the traditional, mainstream media from Manila who are losing the war. Duterte is forcing them to play his game – or be out-scooped by other, more nimble media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Duterte’s unorthodox communication style and irregular schedules are becoming a headache for the networks. But they cannot do anything about it because they know that, just like in the campaign, Duterte does not need to them to communicate with the people. He has social media. He has his Facebook army who are ready, willing, and able to broadcast anything he says, anytime of the day, to all corners of the world.
This is the game changer for the Duterte presidency. Unlike in the past when media giants could arbitrarily set the national agenda and make politicians dance to their tune – they have been brought down from the probinsyano from Mindanao.
The Photo used in this article was taken from the internet. Credits to the owner.
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