MindaNews Received Award of Distinction and Joseph Morong named Marshall McLuhan Fellow of 2015
By Melinda Quintos de Jesus
IN a presentation ceremony held at the SGV Hall of the AIM Conference Center in Makati City, the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR) gave MindaNews the Award of Distinction and, with the Embassy of Canada in Manila, named Joseph Morong the 2015 Marshall McLuhan Fellow on August 27.
The announcement was made after this year’s Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Seminar (JVOJS). The seminar features a panel of journalists who are chosen for doing outstanding reports in the last year. The discussion took up current issues reflected in news reports: the Bangsamoro Basic Law and coverage of Mindanao, corruption and the forthcoming elections.
Seven journalists shared their difficulties in having to keep up with complex processes such as the negotiations between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and reporting this in a way that holds public interest. For those working on TV, the requirement for brevity is a challenge. They also agreed that for all their effort, the public still seems not to know much about the BBL and its importance.
Discussing the problem of corruption as a constant reality, they all agreed that the media cannot solve corruption by itself, admitting however that the media could work more on follow-up stories so the public can keep track of the case.
They agree that the media has a role to play in helping citizens make meaningful choices in the coming elections. News organizations are preparing for this challenge. Someone noted a new TV format that aims to familiarize the electorate with candidates that may seem more about entertainment rather than information. Another journalist said her network has laid out a plan to deal with the biases of anchors and talk show hosts for a candidate.
CMFR featured the seminar to link CMFR’s work to a special group of stakeholders, students enrolled in mass communication studies in universities and colleges in Metro Manila and faculty. In recent years, institutions outside Metro Manila have attended, including Bulacan State University, Bicol University and University of the Assumption in Pampanga.
This year’s panel had more TV journalists than print, a remarkable difference from the JVO Awards which started in 1990, selecting the best in-depth investigative reports published in newspapers for awards. In 2009, CMFR reviewed the impact of the JVO IR (Investigative Reports) awards which many agreed had encouraged journalists to produce quality reports, deciding to shift the focus from articles to journalists who have done outstanding reports, or have accomplished a body of work that has helped the public understand current issues and developments.
This broadened the scope of recognition, making the program more inclusive. Journalism after all is made up of different kinds of reports. With the diversity of media platforms, there are various ways of providing news and information.
Sometime in 2004, CMFR included TV news programs in their media monitor and in 2010, Kara David of GMA Network Inc. joined the panel, the first TV journalist to do so.
This year, the JVO panel featured three journalists who are based outside of Manila, Lore Mae Andong of ABS-CBN Corp., Carolyn O. Arguillas of MindaNews and Cherry Ann Lim of Cebu Sun-Star. Other broadcast journalists included Gigi Grande and Raffy Santos of ABS-CBN Corp., Ed Lingao of TV5 and Joseph Morong, GMA Network Inc.
Is the print medium slipping? Vergel Santos, chairman of the CMFR Board of Trustees, notes how print as a whole has been less effective in reaching out to an audience that has less time and inclination to read. He described it as “slipping in quality professionally, going out of fashion technologically, thus falling out of popular favor.”
As this program tries to encourage best practices, more TV journalists in the panel does not mean that there is a lot of quality reporting to be found in the country’s television news. Much of it is still sloppy and too dependent on visuals and technology. But the good ones clearly put greater effort in exploiting the visual power of the medium and do succeed to pack in a matter of minutes more information in a way that is easier to retain.
The Embassy of Canada, with support from with SunLife Financial Inc., sponsors the fellowship named after communication theoretician Marshall McLuhan. It consists of a two-week familiarization and lecture tour of Canadian media and academic organizations, and later, a lecture tour of Philippine universities under Embassy auspices.
The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship was first given in 1997. There are now 18 Marshall McLuhan Fellows including Sheila Coronel (Columbia Journalism School and Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism), Yvonne T. Chua (VERA Files), Carolyn O. Arguillas (MindaNews) and Ed Lingao (now with TV5) among others.
Each panelist received a certificate of recognition and a P20,000.00 honorarium. CMFR gave MindaNews P30,000.00. The certificate for MindaNews highlighted the value of the information and analyses they provide so Filipinos can understand “the particularities of Mindanao and its people, which includes but is not limited to issues of war and peace.”
The panelists, who join the roster of Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Fellows, were chosen by the committee from a list based on the CMFR’s media monitoring and review, and recommendations. JVO Fellows are part of CMFR’s community of journalists and media practitioners who are invited to participate in CMFR’s events and programs as well as those organized by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a regional network of which CMFR is a founding member.
CMFR’s programs include the promotion of media responsibility and the protection of press freedom in the context of Philippine democratic development.
JVOJS through the years