Why I Resigned as Editor

by Yul Baritugo

I would describe my own resignation as executive editor of a Filipino-Canadian magazine (Living Today) as nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.  I had no financial dependency on a job that was more a mentoring exercise.  I did not bleed when I cut clean.  But I believe my resignation throws light on some dark corners.

As a media professional, I observed that Vancouver-based Filipino Canadian newspapers have almost no independent content.  It’s a mash up of internet news culled from home with a sprinkling of local commentary from pretenders who probably had exposure to writing in a high school paper.

I even found one newspaper printing an entire Wikipedia feature about Philippine Airlines with no attribution whatsoever — nothing. It simply broke all the rules. Birthdays, weddings, wakes and anniversaries are all part of the local news – basically village chatter.  It became an umbilical cord that connected the mostly lonely hoi polloi to the latest events back home.

Publishers likewise regularly appear in photo spreads.  Regular columns include a “joke time” corner reprinted from some source in the Philippines with jokes that range from ribald to outright stupid.  It cultivated the community’s unschooled who desire mirth in dreary Canada. Religious columns are also given prominent play.

Marketing support is non-existent except from a small circle of friends and other entrepreneurs, professionals, dentists, doctors, realtors who have no idea whatsoever what advertising does.  The artist’s layouts of  advertisements  are atrocious. 

The distribution system is a nightmare.  The market is something even the publishers do not know. What market?  The whole newspaper, after all, is given free.

I was recruited by my publisher and a colleague and finally acceded since I wanted to elevate not only the publishing side but also the quality of the writer’s output.  When we were doing editorial planning for the magazine three years ago, my colleagues were apprehensive about my proposed frequency projection of doing it as a monthly magazine. They have not seen an editorial calendar and dread the need to plan. In the end, we simply did it.

My publisher is a good man in bad company.  I met him when he was vice president of a bank employee union of what is now the Philippines` largest bank.  I was then copy editor of a daily paper in Manila.

In 1998, with two other partners he put up a paper called the Pilipino News Today. He got drawn into the publishing business and in 2004 decided to go on his own.  He put up Reyfort Publishing which later evolved into the Reyfort Media Group.

Playing politics

I am not a political partisan.  But I believe Conservatives do not deserve to be where they are although the Liberals were likewise deeply abusive when they were in power. They left behind a sizeable budget kitty that the Tories spent in wild abandon – building an imaginary lake for the G8 while suspending the Charter of Rights and assaulting protesters.   

Recently, they decommissioned a Vancouver-based Coast Guard unit to save $800,000 while running a million dollar advertising campaign about a pie-in-the-sky plan to have a world class system to insure maritime safety for the Northern Gateway. Their concerted attack on civil liberties and wholesale abolition of court oversight is horrendous.  They want to fashion the justice system in a way that makes it irrelevant. 

The only thing I can say about the New Democrats is that the socialist portion of their platform no longer fit North American reality.  As a caveat however, if you do not play politics, as Plato once remarked, you will always be governed by your inferiors.

Media is thus fair target by political parties as a means to extend governance.  There are a number of sophisticated means to co-opt a hostile publication. Ethnic media is being targeted merely as part of a market segmentation strategy that almost all political planners routinely execute. 

Canada’s ethnic population, growing exponentially by 250,000 immigrants a year, is a vast political resource that politicians of all colours and stripes no longer ignore. As a matter of fact they cherry-pick political patrons from various ethnic communities and appoint them to juicy posts.

A political statement

I gave a sketch of my political position at the outset  to put in perspective  a scathing op-ed against the Conservatives I wrote in March 2011 and in subsequent columns.

A Conservative supporter responded with such venom I asked our publication consultant to allow me to respond alongside.  Both pieces never saw print. To me, this was an indication that, as the late Elvis Presley clairvoyantly sang, a lot of shaking was going on.  I never got to prove it.

My resignation is basically a political statement.  I am bucking a trend.  I discovered that almost all centers of authority, agents of influence and other Filipino Canadian personalities in the Lower Mainland have been co-opted or deluded into becoming card-carrying Conservatives. They had accompanied the Prime Minister on recent Asian trips. I was made aware from sources that they became convenient stooges whenever there is a need to highlight cozy Philippine – Canadian relations while ignoring systemic labour exploitation under Jason Kenney’s Caregiver Program. A number of Canadian social experts consider the program modern-day slavery.  It also bestowed a racially derogatory definition of what a Filipino is – either a nanny or a cleaner.

Yul Baritugo, the former executive editor of English-language Filipino Canadian magazine Living Today, resigned last month.

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