Investigative journalism is a serious endeavor that requires hard work, patience, and discipline. These are virtues that seasoned broadcast journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdes has been holding on to and hopes today's journalists also think highly of. Luchi shares that, she knew she wanted to have a career in journalism when she was six years old. “I didn’t even know what it was called. I remember watching Jose Mari Velez on TV, and I asked my mom what he was called. Sabi niya, ‘broadcast journalist.’” Since then, she’s worked hard to become one of the pioneers in the industry.
Luchi celebrates her 30th year in the industry this year, and she sat down with Female Network to share her experiences at work, her thoughts on where the industry is headed, and her advice for career-oriented moms like herself. Keep reading for more insights from this media maven.
ON HER CAREER AND HOPES FOR THE INDUSTRY
Luchi Cruz-Valdes has helped mold Philippine investigative journalism for TV as we know it today. Whenever people talk about investigative journalism for broadcasting, the name Luchi Cruz-Valdes comes to mind. She and colleague Cheche Lazaro started the kind of news documentary commonly seen on TV today. Luchi, who currently works as the News and Information Head of TV5, recounts the days when she was still with public affairs program The Probe Team (which was later renamed to Probe). It was her stint on the show that have strengthened the values that have helped her get to where she is today.
“I was with Probe for 12 years,” she shares. “If there was a story I can lay claim to, it was during my time with Probe.” She remembers in particular a story she produced on the Japayukis. “I was the first one to introduce the word ‘Japayuki’ in media. I’m pretty proud of that. As far as I know, I was the first sent to Japan to make a story on the Japayukis. I was also the first one to interview the first Filipino AIDS patient. There [were a lot of things about] AIDS that people didn’t know about back then.” Luchi admits that these are the kinds of stories she misses doing. “In general, I’m really proud of what we did at Probe. Probe set a tradition of journalistic excellence.”
You can sense a bit of frustration, however, as she talks about the state of broadcast journalism now. “Ngayon kasi nakakalungkot. All programs now are subjected to the pressure of ratings. We now tend to choose our topics based on whether they are going to be watched or not. That’s why I miss Probe kasi wala pang ratings, noon e, because the technology didn’t allow it to be reported on a minute-per-minute basis. Hindi katulad ngayon, you see the ratings the very same day. Excited na excited ka, pagod na pagod ka, tapos makikita mo, ito lang? (You get so excited [about a story], you exhaust yourself working on it, then you'll see the rating is [that low and ask], 'Is this it?') It’s sad.”
Although Luchi now enjoys the respect and admiration of colleagues and others in the industry, getting to where she is now was no easy feat. “I’ve had my share of career boo-boos, in fact, to the point where I lost a job,” she shares. “But I would like to think those situations served me very well because I learned from them and I made it a point to learn from them. There’s nothing to regret as long as you use it to propel you to become a better person.”