HomeGood InspirationRico Hizon Reflects on 36 Years in TV Journalism and Transition to...

Rico Hizon Reflects on 36 Years in TV Journalism and Transition to Digital Media

Rico Hizon with Roby Alampay on One News PH. Screengrab from YouTube.

Filipino news personality Rico Hizon recently discussed the impact of social media on traditional news platforms with Roby Alampay of One News PH. Hizon looked back on his 36-year career in broadcast journalism, spanning the Philippines, Asia, London, and back, tackling the question: Can traditional TV personalities keep up with fast-changing social media trends?

In their studio chat on YouTube, Alampay introduced Hizon as the new Senior Vice President for Corporate Relations at SM Investments of the SM Group, the largest conglomerate in the Philippines. The SM Group’s companies were recently listed in the Fortune 500 for Southeast Asia.

Ready for Corporate Life

Roby quizzed Rico about his readiness to take up the new position in May 2024, a few months after his four-year stint with CNN Philippines ended with the closure of the media group.

“I am. I’m so ready for corporate life. But, of course, it’s also learning the ropes in investments (with SM Group) having a vast array of businesses,” Hizon shared. “When I was talking to my bosses, I said I’ll treat each of these businesses like a story, a news bit.”

“Of course, for me, having been a broadcast journalist for 36 years, I have stock knowledge of everything. Because we’ve been in this industry for such a long time, and we always continue to read the news day in and day out, front page up until the last page… even the opinion pages,” Hizon explained. “That’s how I’m trying to approach my new job.”

The two journalists also shared fond anecdotes about buying shoes at the then-Shoe Mart during their youth before Henry Sy’s empire expanded into supermalls, property development, hotels, and resorts.


What is the most significant difference between my 36-year career as a broadcast journalist and my new position as Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at SM Investments Corporation (SMIC)? Check out my highlight answer in this episode of Roby Alampay’s Roundtable with Roby, which aired on ONE News and Cignal TV. The entire episode is available via the link in the comments section. #RicoHizon #RoundTablewithRoby #OneNews #fyp #foryoupage #viral

♬ original sound – Rico Hizon – Rico Hizon

From CNN Philippines to SM Group

The conversation then turned to Rico Hizon’s experience with CNN Philippines when he returned to local broadcasting after being a widely recognized news anchor overseas for 25 years, delivering news for CNBC and BBC News. He returned to the Philippines in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and worked to strengthen CNN Philippines.

In four years, Rico Hizon consistently earned international recognition for his The Final Word nightly newscast. He was named Asia’s Best News Presenter of the Year at the Asian Academy Creative Awards and the Asian Television Awards. He received these accolades just before CNN Philippines announced its shutdown in January 2024, surprising Rico and his colleagues.

READ: Rico Hizon: Leading the Way in Asian Broadcast Journalism with Asian TV Awards Win

“I think for all of us, (we heard) a lot of talk that we were losing money. But I thought that eventually, the influx of sponsors and advertisers would be able to overcome the losses. But I did not expect that the losses would be so massive, so humongous, more than 5,000,000,000 pesos as mentioned in the media,” Hizon shared.

“In that short time that I was with them, 4 years, I was really proud of what all of us have achieved during my time at CNN Philippines. (I had) a great team. When people ask you what happened, that really is the story,” the former CNN Philippines Senior News Anchor explained.

WATCH Rico Hizon receive awards for The Final Word news program here:

Personal Choices and Family Commitments

Alampay probed into Hizon’s choices after leaving CNN Philippines. “I got some calls. It’s just that it didn’t work out in the end,” Rico admitted.

“There were options outside of the Philippines. But I have a dad who is now 96 years old. He’s aging. And he asked me personally, ‘Rico, you know, I really want you to do what you love, and that is both local and international journalism, but I’m not getting any younger. I asked you to come home in 2020. It’s because I wanted you to be by my side. I wanted you to be near me.”

“My dad has not been in the best of health. So I just decided that it was time to stay here and be around here,” he added.

Coming Home in 2020

Rico Hizon came home in 2020, leaving his anchoring role at BBC News in Singapore and London. “I was with BBC News for 18 years. I loved it there. It’s just like the best of both worlds. You’re based in Singapore. You get to anchor and present global news, and then you are called up to London to anchor more international news. And be with top anchors and top producers,” Rico recalled.

“But then he asked me, and I said, ‘I’ll give it a thought, Dad.’ He was 92 years old back then. So we decided, me and my wife and our son, we decided to come home. We came home on March 15. His birthday was on March 19. We wanted to surprise him. ‘Dad, we’re home. Happy birthday.’ And then lockdown. ECQ,” he added.

“I had left BBC News sometime end of February, packed up our things, and then came home, wanted to surprise my dad. We didn’t even get to see him on his birthday because ECQ started on March 17th. So we were surprised ourselves.”

READ MORE: BBC News anchor Rico Hizon comes home after 25 years overseas to strengthen CNN Philippines

Local Meets International Journalism

Alampay asked Hizon about differences at the regional, international, and local levels of journalism.

Rico said, “Well, almost the same. (Back at BBC, we covered) the US elections, US-China relations, UK elections. But here, it’s very localized. You cover the administration, the senate, congress, all the controversies.

“I had to immerse myself in the day-to-day ins and outs of Philippine developments. But because we were a foreign franchise, I decided to always input global news. That’s what I tried to do on a daily basis on my evening show, The Final Word.

“Because we now live in a global society. Anything that happens in terms of oil prices affects us. US elections, US politics affect us. So it’s a borderless society.

“So that’s what I try to do, to always interview CNN correspondents overseas and connect it with the Philippines.

“For example, the Israel-Hamas conflict. There are tens of thousands of Filipino nurses who live in Israel and thousands in Gaza. How are they affected?

“During the pandemic, you had the first AstraZeneca dose done by a Filipino nurse. Always try to look for stories that our CNN international correspondents can talk about and connect it with what’s happening in the Philippines. Or at least something that the Internet says.

“That’s what I try to do. I try to mix global and local news. So it’s global news in my program.

“It makes sense. I think that’s part of our training. That’s part of our philosophy. You match the news value of proximity with timeliness with whatever and wherever it’s happening.

“I think I would hazard a guess: Filipinos in general are more aware of what’s happening abroad or what’s trending on a global level, but totally unaware of what’s happening here. And then on the other side, there are also Filipinos who are very much aware of what’s happening here. (But) totally oblivious to what’s happening in Gaza.”

Is Anyone Still Watching TV News?

Roby and Rico probed into whether Filipinos were still watching the news on television. They observed that those still watching TV news belong to an aging demographic.

“Appointment TV is an obsolete concept already. Except, maybe for the demographics of 50s and 70s, 80s,” Hizon observed. “Only a Gen Xer would tell me, ‘Rico, I watch you every night at 9 in the evening. And I watch the whole show.’ I would never get approached like that by a Millennial or a Gen Z.”

On the bright side, Hizon describes TV news viewers as those with disposable income. “They are the decision-makers.”

Embracing Digital Platforms

Asked about the dilemma in news viewership on local news networks, Hizon points to what the Internet offers.

“I know the shift to the digital platform. That’s why we’ve seen a lot of television personalities who have programs on TV (go online). And done it quite well. They still want to maintain that TV demographic. But they also have to shift to the digital platform, either have a podcast or have their own YouTube channel because they also have to reach out to the Gen Zs,” observes Hizon.

Rico Hizon himself is on Facebook with over 158k followers. He is also on Twitter, and Instagram, and recently joined TikTok. He admits to finding it difficult to gain followers and curate the platforms, so he found people to help him.

“I don’t do everything on my own. If every content that comes out was actually me, I wouldn’t have time to do the actual work. You need to hire (others),” said Rico. “At least I’m trying.”

Rico recalls interviewing social media influencers who had millions of followers on TikTok. They had their teams with a makeup artist, wardrobe consultant, and camera people.

“Apparently, there are hundreds of celebrities out there that we have never even heard of, who have more followers than TV personalities like us,” observes Rico. “We’ve been in the industry for more than three decades. But on social media? 17,000 (followers). And, of course, the ones who watch us at this hour don’t have social media. They only have Facebook.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In part 2 of this article, Rico Hizon talks more about how he started in broadcast journalism and his move to international broadcasting, tackling social media, and his advocacy with GoodNewsPilipinas.

Be part of our vibrant Good News Pilipinas community, celebrating the best of the Philippines and our global Filipino heroes. As winners of the Gold Anvil Award and the Lasallian Scholarum Award, we invite you to engage with us and share your inspiring stories. For stories Making Every Filipino Proud, reach out to GoodNewsPilipinas.com via FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokYouTube, and LinkedInLinkTree here. Let’s spread good news together!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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