When in Manila, you better watch who creates and who makes the news. Culminating the Mass Media Awareness Month (MMAM) is the Media Students’ Congress in UP Diliman at UP Film Institute. Known news and media personalities grace the event with their insights, aspirations and inspirations! The amazing line-up of speaker are the following: Ed Lingao (PCIJ), Chay Hofileña (Rappler), James Jimenez (Comelec), Howie Severino (GMA), Emil Tapnio (Asia Foundation) and Maria Ressa (Rappler). Unfortunately, Howie of GMA couldn’t make it to the event due to some family emergency.
I’ve seen that the event is well organized by the UP College of Mass Communication. When a participant arrives, he or she is well guided starting from the registration table til finding a seat in the venue. The media congress has several sponsors and there’s even some food concessionaires outside for food and snacks! My only frustration was that the small turn-out of the number of participants. How i wished that the venue is jammed packed, bursting at the seams.
Dean Roland Tolentino of UP College of Mass Communication, delivers his opening remarks followed by the MMAM overview by Triciah Terada, one of the committee chairperson of MMAM. Hosting the event are Wacky Torres and Sunshine Kim, both Broadcast Communication majors from UP Diliman. Sunshine is a freshman while Wacky is on his senior years, though their heights are almost same. The hosts are jolly and by the way Sunshine Kim is a Korean but since immigrated here in the Philippines for 12 years now. Since I asked her why she’s that tall, she merely pointed me to her high heels and that’s so cool I said.
First to speak is Ed Lingao, he is currently the Multimedia Director for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Ed spoke on the present system and status quo on media. He bravely narrated the changing practices on the newsroom and media corruption. He also pointed out a scenario wherein media networks oftentimes highly considers the ‘looks’ of the reporters than the hard news itself.
Ed is quoted saying… “Kasi kahit sino na pwede… basta maganda tingnan sa TV”, “Naglalakihan ang presscard ng mga reporter sa probensya”. He emphasized that we have all the toys, better informed, but not necessarily better enlightened. Ed is saying that both the news makers and news consumers have the responsibility to fight media corruption and degradation!
Chay Hofileña, the Rappler’s director for citizen journalism and community engagement spoke on the selection of media coverage. She titles her presentation as “How We Chose The News”. Chay bravely and blatantly pointed out what media is all about behind the scene. He greatly emphasized that news and media is also a business, that ratings equate to advertising and eventually can be equated to money, that media is also political. She honestly said that for media to do its job, it also has to make money.
Chay shows what the news or media values on what to broadcast or cover. News values prominence or celebrities, novelty (while showing on slide the photo of Sen. Miriam Santiago) and conflict. Bottom-line question that news-makers ask nowadays before they cover news is ‘Will it sell’?, its because media networks has back-end infrastructures and expenditures to support then. Chay also tackles the ownership issues on both print and broadcast media companies and she’s not afraid to name names at all! She expressed her concerns on media corruption and how the citizens should get involve. At the end, she flashed a slide that news is about public service and public interest after all. My favorite quote on her talk is … ‘it took a disaster to bring people together, but we don’t need to wait for another disaster’. Chay ends her presentation by saying… “YOU have to be part of the process.”
James Jimenez, the spokesman and director of the Commission on Elections spoke on the role of the media practitioners in the upcoming elections. James blatantly stated that the way politicians campaign were shallow and demeaning on voter’s intelligence. He also said that politicians oftentimes work on the principle that …’if you can’t feed the mob, you must at least keep them entertained’. James is also wondering how many “gangnam style” dance will be expected to be seen among the campaign sorte this upcoming campaign period. He reiterated that the true test of media is to remain non-partisan.
Also, that media is to be an enabler of intelligent choices is a great responsibility. James observed that unfortunately media merely advanced its own editorial agenda. Media does influence voters behavior that’s why its so important on the upcoming election. James greatly hopes that media will be a partner for a successful clean and honest election!
Emil Tapnio, being part of the Asian Foundation talks on his advocacy and the power of the youth vote on the upcoming election. Emil tells various stories on his developmental works and his various advocacy even way back on his college days. He pointed out that 12 million Youth voters are up for grabs this coming elections and showed some statistics that Filipino voters are very young. Emil also laid down his prospects and wish-list for 2013. It’s his prospect that youth sector should be more politically aware and active engagements should go beyond 2013. On top of his wish-list were policy reforms and review of the education agenda!
Also before even the event starts, Emil has chatted with me on what he’s up to lately and his engagements way back then. He did enthusiastically re-tells me the story of in’s and out’s on how KAISA (a UP political party) was founded. Emil is very engage politically, has various speaking engagements wherein he says he simply tell his story! Nice to meet a new friend and I’ve discovered that we both have some common friends too.
Maria Ressa, currently the CEO of Rappler spoke on ‘Media and Technology’. Undoubtedly the crowds’ favorite, Maria engaged the students so well as she started her presentations with life-size photos of the transformation of technology. Maria is a great story-teller. She candidly re-tells stories on how journalists’ evolving tools starting from notepads, pens, beepers, land-line and eventually the cellphone and the internet. She also gave us a sneak preview how she started as a journalist, her journey as a CNN correspondent and what consumes her lately. I’ve covered various events/conferences where Maria spoke, but then she never fails on her quotable quotes. Maria is quoted saying… “That you are digital natives.”, “Social media is where science meets religion”. Social media can be used to push for social change, that’s what Maria was greatly advocating.
Maria also blatantly said that 2013 will be the first social media election, that the youth and social networks can greatly affect the upcoming elections! She advocates that everyone can participate in spreading the news and everyone can be a journalist because of social media (it all started in 2007/2008, when almost all migrates to Facebook). One of the funny moments on her talk was when she consistently referring Chay Hofileña to the ‘typewriter’, that Chay is a generation behind her generation (of course its meant to be a joke).
Maria was and continually is greatly hopeful of the youth of today. She says that we can create a modern people power via our social networks. On the Q and A session, one student ask about blogging and Maria encourages that we should blog or write about something when we find fault and what we really care about . Maria end her talk by saying… “You make the choice, we’re making the call”. I have so much to say on Maria’s talk but so concerned I might not do it justice by saying too much. Oh wait, she’s not that busy enough to answer on my tweets or do some retweets. She’s such an eye opener and am so honored and privileged to meet her several times. I did plan to take photo with her every time we’re meeting, but i forgot this time. There’s more to come, i know!
After all the talks and presentations, I decided to take some feedbacks from the participants. I did have a brief talk with Elroll Manalo and some students from FEU Mass Comm Society. Elroll is an instructor at Batangas State University, and he brought some 20+ of his students in the Media Congress. He states that indeed media has a great power in this upcoming election, his favorite speaker is Maria Ressa, and he’s excited about the learning experience of his students out from this Media Congress. On the same note, students from FEU namely Danica, Nesler and Emman were so blessed just to hear from these line up of speakers. They said that indeed social media can tip the scale on the upcoming elections. I quoted them saying that they spend more time online when they wanted to know some news. Danica Soliman, as the president of their organization is thinking of bringing such media congress like this to her school! Danica as a Mass Comm student want to affect change thru film in the future, Nesler wants to be a writer and Emman on the production side of the news industry! It seems that the participants were unanimous in nodding w/ Maria Ressa that the 2013 mid-term elections will the first social media election.
I missed the afternoon sessions, but still I can tell you what happened. According to the organizers (thru e-mail), the participants were asked to pick among the six topics presented they gave them. Each group must discuss/debate about the topic. After a given time, they must come up with solution (the more concrete, the better), plans of action they had in mind after the debating over the topic. Each group presented their ideas to the whole congress. Topics were Anti-Epal Movement, Celebrity-Politician and vice versa, Vote Buying and Automated Elections, Party List, Televised Debate, among others. Carla Cucueco gave the closing remarks, Carla is one of the chairpersons of MMAM 2012.
Elroll Manalo w/ Batangas State U students at the registration table.
Emman Dolba, Nesler Almagro, Danica Bianca Soliman : FEU Mass Comm Society Students while writing on my notepad.
When in Manila, watch the watchdogs. We can affect change and push for change. We can use our social networks to make a difference. Indeed, the youth vote is important on the upcoming election. Watch out politicians, the new media is coming!
UP Media Students’ Congress : #MediaWatch