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Most members of PH movie press among the 7.3 million unemployed; underpaid

If you think movie reporting—or if you must as a media work label it as entertainment writing for want of reverential if not glamorous effect—is a lucrative job, think again.

I am inclined to believe that the public was impressionable that because veteran entertainment news hen Lolit Solis has been flaunting and talking in public about datung (read: money, moola, cash) or erstwhile movie columnist and talk show host Boy Abunda has been covered by media with his palatial houses etc. they would imagine if not expect that movie writers are earning a lot. Ask Lolit or Boy how much they are earning writing column inches although they might be paid a little higher than the rest of us and you’d be surprised that entertainment journalism isn’t enough to feed a family or even one’s mouth.

Not unless one is employed as an editor or a staff member of a publication or a broadcast station or an online platform who has a regular basic salary. But then, again, it also depends on how big or small a media or a multimedia factory is.

Doing PR work is another source of livelihood if not an issue altogether. Talent management, is of course, a different ballgame because one of the ways to earn extra money like the old good days is for movie writers to handle stars but the emergence of corporate studio talent handlers and independent and more tactically-oriented managers usually thwarts the prospects talent management among writers. 

Surely, not all movie writers are Lolits, Boys, Ricky Los, Crispina Martinez-Belens, Ethel Ramoses, Ronald Constantinos, Aster Amoyos, Nestor Cuarteros, Eugene Asises, Mario Dumauals, Lhar Santiagos or the likes of the still missing Boy C. de Guias etc. who are already influential. Not all entertainment journalists are like Mario Bautista, Alwyn Ignacio, Alex Brosas, Danny Vibas, Ricky Calderon, George Vail Kabristante, Jobert Sucaldito  etc. who can easily adapt to any situation.

There are also the likes of Leo Paul Caliwara, Ronald Duka, Voltaire Lanuza, Linda Cabuhayan, Jovi Lloza etc. who are marginalized. 

Would you believe that most print publications—particularly tabloids (fanzines are already a bygone era)—of entertainment news, pay, believe it or not, P100.00 or less per story? And that P100.00 contributor’s fee has been the payment since the 1980s? Some tabloids may pay P200.00 per story but I haven’t heard of a printed media of the same newspaper size which would pay higher than that on entertainment stories. Maybe contributed showbiz stories in English broadsheets are paid higher, like P1k or a little bit higher per story or column inch.

Some entertainment portals on cyber pay handsomely although not all are given the chance to write in interactive outlets. The social media have created   gracious spaces to showbiz newscasters but not all are cut to become full-fledged hosts marketing online shows is also a hurdle although some proudly announce they have thousand likes converted to cash or freebies.

In these uncertain times of COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most economically affected sectors of the local entertainment industry is the movie press in general.

One of the gauges of this letdown in these lean times, though, are the social media posts of most movie scribes seeking succor or counting if not displaying their receipt of relief goods from friends and benefactors or complaining the difficult times of no wage at all. A lady movie writer who’s already an institution in the biz would rant that there are no more presscons or if there are they come only in trickles or exclusive to select press people or done in a pocket size confab to depend on foods, taxi fare or gas up a car—if a reporter depends his or her subsistence or on these concerns to the tokens of appreciation given in media cons. 

We are already in thousands and if one is to classify our employment statuses, many of us are already unemployed or we belong to the 7.3 million Filipinos who are jobless. Not a few printed publications are closing shop because most of them are turning up online. Of course, movie reporting is a vast universe and a complex socio-political and commercial structure not to mention the moral ascendency of the press but the most urgent reality to be addressed is the income-less, hungry tummies of most us.  Many will say, real talent prevails but that is already a given from the start.

 Perhaps lawmakers would want to look closely at the plight of movie scribes and pass a bill on the uplift of the lot because they we are also citizens and voters, and not only that, taxpayers as well, of the country who have the right to a better economic life.   


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