TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014
Inquirer ‘anti-everything’ until MRP came along By Chelo Banal-Formoso Education Editor LIKE MOST STRONG WOMEN, the chair of the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a signature hairstyle. Marixi Rufino-Prieto wears her hair slightly teased on the crown and swept back into a knot or a ponytail with ends neatly tucked in. The effect is austere and corporate—a look that says she doesn’t want to be worrying about her hair the rest of the day because she has better things to do. And, really, what could be better than heading the board that runs the country’s largest circulated and most influential daily newspaper in the country? “I have a feeling that certain things come your way for a reason and it’s up to you to make a choice, whether or
not you want to accept,” says Mrs. Prieto, who is alternatively known as MRP around the INQUIRER. “But once you accept you have to see it full way.” That’s exactly what has happened. She has gone the whole nine yards, and so has the INQUIRER, in setting the news agenda in the country. Mrs. Prieto says she had bought into the paper to be the third force that would bring accord to the two squabbling factions in its ownership and management. As newsprint supplier, she was well aware that the in-fighting could kill the paper. She recalls that she didn’t even tell her husband about buying into the INQUIRER, even though Alex Prieto comes from a family that was actively involved with the pre-martial law Manila Times.
“I knew he was going to say no had I told him,” says MRP. “The INQUIRER was so ‘anti-everything’ . . . But then I could see what it had done in the political landscape. I could see that it was bringing out things that needed to be threshed out.” She thought that what the broadsheet needed most was help in balancing the news. She understood that it was in the nature of journalists as watchdogs for a nation still reeling from years of dictatorship to focus on the ugly realities, of which there was no short supply. “And yet one of the missions of the paper was nation-building,” she says. “You’re not going to build the nation if you’re just going to continually be against everybody. We needed to put more good news in the paper—stories about successes—without of course closing our eyes to the wrongs that
were happening around us.” So that was the reason the INQUIRER started coming out with a feel-good story every day, or whenever possible. Eventually, the paper also adopted a “radical” (her own word) Positive Sunday outlook. “They were saying that good news doesn’t sell and I was telling them yes it does,” says Mrs. Prieto. “You want to be able to attribute success to the people who are doing good and to share their stories with other people. Why would you want to read the paper if you know it’s all going to be bad news? You want to open it in the morning and see some daylight.” Keeping the contents of the INQUIRER balanced is an overriding concern for Mrs. Prieto, more so now that, at 74, INQUIRER / 3
THE GOOD NEWS Marixi R. Prieto’s mandate is to balance the bad with the good.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.