By Joeberth M. Ocao
The Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a three-day celebration. At least 170 journalists, alumni, dignitaries, and supporters attended the opening at the Ateneo de Manila University, the home of ACFJ.
The ceremony kicked off with the opening of a photo exhibit dubbed “Asian News in Pictures,” which captured the immense diversity of issues that confront Asia. The exhibit, launched at the Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall, School of Social Sciences at ADMU, featured several of the best single pictures and photo stories in the portfolios submitted by students in the Diploma in Photojournalism program offered by ACFJ.
ACFJ Executive Director Dr. Violet Valdez said “bringing people together with very limited resources” was the biggest challenge the center faced when it started in 2000.
She is now looking forward to the next 10 years and anticipates much more innovation.
“We hope to continue to be cutting edge, so to speak. We continue to be able to cover more of Asia that we are able to cover now. The vision is greater diversity and cutting edge journalism.”
For his part, Stefan Friedrich, PhD, head of the Asia Department of Konrad Adenauer – Stiftung (KAS), said the ACFJ is a leader in journalism education in the region.
“The ACFJ is already a brand name of journalism education in Asia, which all of you can be proud of,” he said.
In his message, ADMU President Bienvenido Nebres, SJ underscored the importance of journalism in the rapid growth of the Asian region and challenged the ACFJ and its journalism alumni to help ensure that the world sees Asia at a balanced perspective.
“All of us know that over the last 10 years, the development of societies in the Asian region – not only our development but our growing role in the world stage – has accelerated…I think we realize that our region is quite important and we are very much in the news, but it’s also important that news from inside is better crafted and understood,” Nebres said.
Wilfried Ruetten, Executive Director of the European Journalism Center, echoed Nebres’ challenge by saying “there is a lot of noise out there” and it is the role of journalism to “make sense of the noise.”
A highlight in the opening ceremony was the signing of a cooperation agreement between the ACFJ and the European Journalism Center.
Opened in 2000, ACFJ was funded by ADMU and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung under its Media Programme Asia. It was created with the idea to revive “pure” journalism education and to raise the standards of Asian journalism. Since then, ACFJ has provided hundreds of Asian reporters and editors the “training and education that have helped them inform and engage their communities in public issues.”
Every year, ACFJ awards fellowships for the MA Journalism program and the Diploma in Photojournalism program, as well as study grants to deserving journalists from Asian newsrooms. ACFJ believes journalists must be able to keep up to the challenges they face such as new media technology, veiled threats to their independence and the growing intricacy of social issues and institutions.
“It’s an ongoing goal so as of the moment, what we wanted until now (I think) has exceeded our expectations,” Valdez said.