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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

MAN OF HIS WORD
RAUL LOCSIN
JOURNALISM, LITERATURE, AND CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS ARTS

He has resisted the insidious pressures that undermine press integrity, and "nurtured business reporting in the Philippines from infancy to robust maturity"

By Antonio Lopez / Manila


in praise of Asian virtues:
The Magsaysay Awards
Exemplars Meet the five winners of the 1999 Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's most prestigious prize

Activist Angela Gomes fights for women in Bangladesh

Reformer Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui takes on Karachi's slums

Dancer Lin Hwai-min brings art and truth to Taiwan

Journalist Raul Locsin defends Philippine press freedom

Star Manila ex-movie queen Rosa Rosal of the Red Cross

magsaysay awards WHEN JOSEPH ESTRADA SUED The Manila Times in February for alleging that he was unwittingly involved in a controversial power-plant contract, Raul Locsin wrote a rare editorial in BusinessWorld, the newspaper he runs. He reminded the Philippine president of the importance of press freedom. "All our rights remain meaningless and defenseless without it," he wrote. "[This] action reflects a lack of comprehension of the role of a free press in a democratic society. At its best, it displays the petulance of a distressed individual who conjectures that the presidency deserves conformity and acquiescence without dissent."

For the 67-year-old newsman, it was a typically impulsive reaction. After the Times' owner apologized to the president - Estrada later dropped the suit - Locsin said he regretted penning his tirade. But that flash of anger revealed the uncompromising passion Locsin has for his profession. In its citation recognizing him as the recipient of a Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communications Arts, the board of trustees hailed "his enlightened commitment to the principle that a newspaper is a public trust." While some owners have let personal interests determine editorial policy, and many reporters and editors have failed to uphold standards of honesty for personal gain or a boost in circulation, "Locsin has withstood these pressures," the panel concluded.

It may seem odd to some that this crusader for press freedom made his career covering business and economics. But it is precisely his dedication to sober fact over sensationalism in covering the Philippine economic story - through boom and bust - that won credibility for him and for the pub lications for which he worked. In his integrity alone, he was a pioneer. He has instilled the same doggedness into a generation of young journalists he has trained. Above all, through his simple and straightforward style, he has educated and informed his readers. Of his achievements, he is modest: "It is leaving the world a better place than I found it."

Locsin started out as a reporter for his father's Spanish-language community paper in his native Negros in the central Philippines. He headed to Manila to study liberal arts at university, but dropped out after two years to learn to fly planes and, later, to pursue a career in sales. He was employed at various multinational companies for 11 years. The money was good, "but everyday I was unhappy because I hated the job." In 1963, he had had enough and went back to his first love, taking a job as a cub reporter for the now-defunct Manila Chronicle.

While he was paid less than 5% of what he had been making as a marketing executive, Locsin rediscovered his true calling. Within two years, he became the paper's assistant business editor. He helped establish the Economic Monitor, the country's first business weekly, then in 1967 set up Business Day. He edited what was Southeast Asia's first business daily for 20 years. Throughout the rule of president Ferdinand Marcos, the paper won a reputation for accuracy and objectivity. But soon after the People Power revolt that ended the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, it was paralyzed by a strike by leftist staff members bent on taking control. Rather than give in to the activists, Locsin quit. Ironically, only four months earlier, he had finished paying off Business Day's debts accumulated over two decades.

Retirement didn't last. About three quarters of his former staff picketed his suburban home for four days, urging him to come back. The loyalists put up a corporation of their own and appointed Locsin as their president, publisher and editor. He accepted - and BusinessWorld was born. He controls 70% of the stock, and the employees' pension fund owns the rest. The newspaper, which runs every weekday, is the country's fourth-biggest in circulation (average: 54,000 copies) and revenues, behind much bigger outfits including Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Philippine Star.

While he leaves the daily nitty-gritty to wife Leticia, the paper's executive editor, and managing editor Jose Galang, Locsin remains engaged, writing the paper's infrequent editorials. The boss regularly threatens to retire, but still reports for work at six every morning, driving his green BMW (a special perk of his position, he says). He dresses casually, in denim shirt and blue jeans, and goes home at 6 p.m. He has suffered two strokes, the first when he was 39 and the second two years ago.

Fragile health never dulled his devotion to the basics of his craft. To him, like a priest, a newspaperman "lived and died with [this commitment] no matter how hard it was and how exploited you were." A newspaper's real role is to inform accurately and fairly, he says. "Let the reader make his own judgment. The dividing line between style and bias is very thin." In more than 40 years as a journalist, Locsin stuck to that fine line - and as he might say, made the newsroom a better place.


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

AsiaNow



WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


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