Jessica Soho, the highly esteemed broadcast journalist in the Philippines, is going beyond TV with her “The GMA Public Affairs Talk” series. This talk show series will soon travel throughout the country, connecting with audiences far and wide. The first leg of this exciting event was titled “The New York Festival Medalists & The National Artist GMA Public Affairs Talk on Storytelling and Producing,” where Soho imparted her vast experience in reporting and broadcasting to GMA staff and employees, a journey that has lasted almost four decades.

GMA Public Affairs is now planning a roadshow version of the talks, which will be open to students and young professionals alike. After renewing her contract with the Kapuso Network, we had the chance to interview Soho and gain invaluable insights into the industry from her perspective.

In a recent interview, Soho opened up about her career and expressed her belief that she is exactly where she is meant to be in life. She spoke with pride about the meaningful work she has done on her shows and the programs she has conceptualized for GMA News and GMA Public Affairs. Soho also mentioned her involvement in launching ’24 Oras’ in 2004, which paved the way for other successful news programs.

Beyond her achievements, Soho takes great pride in having mentored and inspired a whole generation of journalists and storytellers within her organization, leaving a lasting impact on the industry. Soho’s passion and dedication to her work have significantly impacted the media landscape in the Philippines.

Lessons Learned

Soho firmly believes in the importance of journalism despite the challenges faced by the industry. She recognizes that journalists play a vital role in providing accurate and reliable information to the public and that this moment is when their work is most critical. Soho stated, “Some may say that this is not an ideal time for journalists. However, I believe that now, more than ever, we are needed.”

She acknowledges the abundance of misinformation online and suggests that this is an opportunity to hone their storytelling skills and continue to improve as journalists. As they say in Korean dramas, “Fighting!”

Soho has always been a staunch advocate of the three core values that shape journalism—accuracy, fairness, and accountability. She firmly believes in upholding these values that were passed on to her by pioneers in the industry. “As someone who used to run a newsroom, I made it a point to uphold these values. They are essential in ensuring that we produce quality content,” she said.

Aside from being a champion of these values, Soho is also known for her exceptional ability to craft remarkable taglines. During her tenure at GMA News and Current Affairs, she spearheaded the creation of some of the network’s most memorable taglines. “I take pride in putting together taglines like ‘Walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan. Walang kasinungalingan. Serbisyong Totoo Lamang’ and ‘Dapat Tama’ for our election coverage. These taglines are more than just words, they serve as affirmations of our values as journalists,” she shared.

Advice for Future Journalists

Jessica is passionate about spreading the message that journalism is a vital profession, especially among aspiring and emerging reporters. Whenever she’s asked for advice, she always stresses two key points: to read up and stay informed, and to remember that journalism is never about the reporter.

While social media has become an important part of the modern journalist’s toolkit, Soho cautions against putting too much emphasis on self-promotion and losing sight of the timeless values that make journalism so important: accuracy, fairness, and responsibility. According to Soho, these traditional principles are at the heart of good journalism and should never be compromised.

Soho believes that trust is essential in journalism and is an ongoing process that requires hard work and dedication. According to her, aspiring journalists should earn their stripes and show up for work, no matter how bad the day might be. After all, journalism is not just about promoting oneself but serving the public. As Malou Mangahas, a fellow Kapuso journalist, puts it, “Journalism is a far bigger cause than any one of us.”

Despite the current age of selfies and influencers, Soho urges young journalists to stay focused on the real purpose of journalism – to serve the public and uphold its core values. She acknowledges that getting up on rainy or stormy days can be tough, but it’s crucial to show up and do the work, especially when it matters the most.

No Respect for ‘Me’ Time

Jessica recently opened up about how the pandemic has taught her the importance of maintaining a regular sleep and meal routine. For someone who was always on-the-go chasing deadlines and stories, Soho never considered taking “me” time as a necessity. However, the pandemic enlightened her on the fact that a lack of proper sleep affects one’s productivity. Therefore, she started making time for leisure activities like reading books, binge-watching Korean dramas and series like ‘Succession’, going on long drives, and occasionally visiting her family and hometown in La Union. By doing so, she was able to unwind and recharge her mind, which made her more productive in the long run.

Awards and Achievements

Soho’s groundbreaking achievements in journalism have made her a trailblazer in the field. As the first UP College of Mass Communication alumna to receive the prestigious Gawad Plaridel Award and the first Filipino to win a New York Festivals TV & Film Award, her contributions have set the standard for excellence in journalism.

Her remarkable feat of winning all medal categories at the NYF is a testament to her unwavering dedication to her craft. Soho’s continued mentorship and inspiration to aspiring journalists reflect her commitment to upholding the values and ethics of journalism, making her an exemplary figure in the industry.