Check your facts, verify them before writing, get the other side and be fair.
These were the standing orders of veteran journalist Neal H. Cruz to his reporters that newsman Philip Lustre fondly remembers.
“He kept on telling us, when in doubt, don’t write. Unless you are extremely sure of the story and you can defend it when challenged, that’s the only time to write it,” Lustre said
as he paid tribute to his former editor at the defunct Philippine Tribune and Daily Globe on Tuesday, hours after the news of Cruz’s passing spread around via text and social media.
Cruz died Tuesday, July 28, at St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City. He was 85.
He is survived by his wife Marina, children Doris, Dennis and Dinna, and grandchildren Lyanne and Ysabel. Following his cremation, his wake will be held at Mt. Carmel Church in New Manila, Quezon City, starting Wednesday, an announcement posted on the website of the Philippine Daily Inquirer read.
Cruz whose journalism career spanned six decades was an Inquirer columnist for 21 years.
His column “As I See It” appeared in the pages of the Inquirer in 1994, the day after the defunct Manila Chronicle made an announcement that Cruz was to become an editorial consultant following a newsroom shake-up in the paper that was then under the control of a new set of owners.
“For a brief period in the early 1990s, Neal was also my editor in the defunct Manila Chronicle,” journalist Manny Mogato of the wire agency Reuters said.
“[He was] always nice and friendly as I remember him during my Chronicle days,” said Carmela Huelar, the paper’s correspondent from 1991 until it was shuttered for good by a labor dispute in 1998.
Cruz succeeded Amando Doronila as editor in chief of the Manila Chronicle after the Lopezes sold their shares in the paper to investors led by Ramon Cojuangco and Robert Coyiuto.
Cruz was Arts and Literary Editor of the This Week Magazine of the pre-martial law Chronicle.
Cruz was managing editor of the Benedicto-owned Daily Express and was among those who put up the Philippine Tribune after the Express was shut down following the 1986 People Power revolt. From the Tribune, Cruz moved to the Daily Globe before taking a second tour at the Chronicle and finally finding his home at the Inquirer.
Cruz was president of the National Press Club for two terms and was the main organizer of the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel that later moved to the Diamond Hotel.
The Manila Times senior reporter Joel Egco, the incumbent NPC president, said on Facebook, “Press freedom has lost another guardian.”
Psyche Roxas, managing editor of the Philippine Graphic magazine, fondly remembers Cruz’s soft spot for animals.
“I remember Neil as the journalist who rescued a stray kitten after a media meet. Kaiyak naman [It made me cry],” she said.
Lustre said Cruz’s journalistic legacy is his sense of fairness of equanimity.
“He did not mind being challenged. He answered questions on his editorial judgment. He faced us squarely. Yet, he did not harbor grudges all through the years. Those dynamics were certainly part of the job. We left all those dynamics in the newsroom. In brief, he was never personal even we disagreed with his policies and judgments,” he added.
“Neal got sickly in the last few years. But Neal never wavered in his journalistic passion. He is, I prefer the present tense, a great man. He will be missed,” Lustre said.