Young journalists in Negros have banded together to professionalize media practice. There is reason to celebrate this Christmas as the organization they formed a year ago continues to be strong.
BY KARL G. OMBION
BACOLOD CITY – Last Dec. 11, members of Liga Journalista (Journalists’ League), an organization of mostly young journalists in the Negros island, held its first anniversary assembly here.
Reason for existence
Founding chair Ranie Azue, a radio broadcaster, said the organization was formed a year ago by a few highly idealistic young journalists, mostly in their early 20s to early 30s. They were all dissatisfied with the treatment they often get from their managers especially when it comes to wages, benefits, incentives and working conditions.
Some of them, Azue said, joined the group because of their frustration with the apparent lack of unity and cooperation among media practitioners caused by the low remuneration, competition and the “scoop mentality” instilled by media owners.
Many of them were discontented with the way some media organizations are being run by “veteran” media practitioners, specifically, the “turfism” and cliquism among the seniors and veterans, the practice of “envelopmental journalism” among some, and the lack of concrete action on the part of media leaders to help alleviate the plight of the members and the victims of media repression, Azue added.
All these, Azue said, led them to organizing a distinct organization of young journalists not only to foster solidarity and cooperation among media practitioners and protect and fight for their welfare and security, but also to find ways to become effective in giving the people the correct information and analysis, under a media system which is highly commercialized, repressive and pro-big business.
Azue also said that the members of Liga Journalista have already participated in major advocacy campaigns in Negros, particularly the protest march it held in support of the campaign for justice for Radyo Bombo’s Boy Hinolan and other victims of media repression. The campaign was led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). It also participated in the coordinated barrage of statements and commentaries on various cases of state-perpetrated terrorism, coverage of people’s struggles, and expose’ of some cases of corruption scams.
Freedom with social responsibility
Ryan Lachica, 23, a reporter of the local daily Sunstar Bacolod, said that idealism, boundless energy, daringness and impetuosity are the distinguishing trademarks of the youth. “They form a large part of the way the youth struggle with realities, make decisions and eventually pursue the life they want.”
Ritz Malooy, 26, a reporter of local daily Visayan Daily Star, said, “Once these characteristics are zapped or suppressed by the prevailing media culture of competition and commercialism, we would just be like the other media practitioners who are contented with getting assignments, beating deadlines, making names for themselves and earning, devoid of social responsibility.”
“That’s not what we are. Yes, we can always follow instructions and rules, but they should not choke us, or prevent us from enjoying things we normally like to do. They should not prevent us from studying social realities, and in making a stand of our own to include in our reports,” added Ritz.
Rommel Pido, 29, a reporter of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), said a number of young journalists joined media agencies even with its low pay and lack of security of tenure because of their idealism. “There is already a dearth of this character in the media. We want to rekindle and develop that, and hopefully, that would reinvigorate the sector to become effective in informing, entertaining and liberating our people.”
Finding strength among themselves
“The media profession is a very taxing job. There’s so much pressure, within the institution one belongs, and the people, especially sources of information, one deals with. More saddening, there’s not enough compensation,” said Marlon Genovea, a reporter of radio station DYEZ.
Richard Pauyon, 25, a reporter of a local cable station Info13, said, “To be able to withstand the pressures, still enjoy the job and stay effective, we have to find strength from within, and that is found among our fellow young journalists who share common characteristics, problems, aspirations and hopes.”
What differentiates Liga Journalista from other media organizations is its broad membership that includes radio operators, technicians, administrative support personnel, talent artists, FM disk jockeys of various broadcast and TV stations and campus journalists.
Noli Aparicio, chief radio operator of RMN Bacolod and one of the board of directors of Liga Journalista, said, “I was really excited because no other media organization has given us importance than this one. Many thought we are just technical people who do not know much about what broadcasters and commentators do. What they do not know is that, without us, they are nothing, they will not be on air. Besides, with Liga Journalista we now have a channel to air our problems and grievances,” Aparicio added.
Erwin Salinas, a senior disk jockey of a local FM station, also said that FM stations are also engaged in news casting, indirect commentaries and public affairs. “Oftentimes, we are treated as if we’re not part of the media institution.”
Salinas said, “It’s high time for media and the public to know that we are an important segment of the sector because we are entertaining and shaping the views and lifestyles of mostly the young generation, the very future of our society.”
Larry Trinidad, a reporter of RMN and newly elected chair of Liga Journalista, said, “It’s a painful and difficult year, but we have survived, and I am certain we will grow bigger and stronger because the interests and issues we stand and fight for are legitimate and just.”
“Despite the economic difficulties faced by media practitioners we must remain consistent with our commitment to the truth, loyalty to the people, and sole duty to make the press an instrument of people empowerment and social justice,” Trinidad said.
He also challenged them to keep high the banner of progressive and advocacy journalism for which the group is known, and to always link arms with other progressive media and people’s organizations. (Bulatlat.com)