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COVID-19 is rewriting the horizons of the journalistic field. In a society where information in cyberspace is free-for-all: Information has carried off objectivity, intensified subjectivity, and prompted professionals and students alike to believe that we are all aspects of the story.

As a Christian company, Ripple VAs takes the path of valuing truth and withstanding falsity amidst the pandemic’s developing story. While it pushes its members closer to discerning that God is Truth through its weekly mentorships, it also supports an authentic endeavor that speaks truth to power — campus journalism.

With that, Ripple VAs partnered with The NORSUnian (TN), the official weekly student publication of Negros Oriental State University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines, in its first webinar dubbed “Katilingban: A Webinar on a Journalistic Society” that happened on March 5, 2021.

Society, journalism, and you — truths that matter

With the organizing members emerging from the sizable Cebuano community in Central Visayas, the webinar focused on the role of katilingban — a Cebuano term used to refer to “people sharing some social relation” — in facilitating more participatory democracy. As the backbone of democracy, journalism, like everything else, has been reduced to an online environment due to the pandemic. The risks of misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information have triggered public opinion and trust in the media.

Reychemver Credo, the editor-in-chief of TN, shared that the online event aimed to amplify journalism’s current face and how it has affected society’s confidence in the information it receives every day. Moreover, he said the webinar boosts awareness on the importance of selecting ethics from dishonesty, trust from doubts, and restoration from negligence.

Two hours in a box: Using Zoom to echo the truth

Mass gathering and physical contact are not options during these terrible times. Yet, only briefly, thanks to humanity’s innovation as the organizing team successfully accommodated the over 190 senior high school and college student-participants across the country in Zoom.

In two hours, the impact of journalism on society was etched in the minds of the attendees. Furthermore, the presence of students and their learning environments became a great opportunity in tackling a breadth of opinions from broad curiosity to dismay to surrender to positiveness, and where most agreed that society – at its best and its worst – is influenced by the entirety of media.

Guest experts from ABS-CBN and Rappler talk the truth

Streamed live on TN’s Facebook page, the webinar guested media practitioners for the audience to learn from direct experiences. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., it echoed that the crisis of democracy and truth are the same.

Annie Fe Perez, a faculty from the University of the Philippines Cebu and correspondent of ABS-CBN, a media network giant in the country denied the franchise by Congress last year, graced the event and addressed on “Media Accountability and Role During Pandemic.”

In her 30-minute discussion, Perez emphasized that society must be critical in every information they swallow before rendering judgments and decisions. She said, “When you are in the media, you have no right to assume or conclude because you always attribute it to your sources. [When you are a media consumer], you should also check your sources...and read other platforms.”

On the other hand, a journalist from Rappler, a leading online news website in the country, also joined the spectacle. She was Lorraine Ecarma, who referred to “Restoring Public Trust in the Media.” Using influential figures in her articulation to engage webinar attendees, Ecarma presented stories that concentrated attacks on the press, specifically on the affiliated outlet.

“The pursuit for public trust in the media isn’t just for [your ego] as a media practitioner and as future media practitioners. [You’re] not fighting for people to love the media or to trust the media —so that you would have a purpose in life or just to put you on a pedestal. [You’re] trying to win back the public trust in the media so that the public knows better; the public goes to you to be informed and don't rely on propaganda sites,” Ecarma added.


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