By Melissa Bagamasbad, Yovita Arika and Ha Thuy Hguyen
The power is with the people
The power of the media in the Philippines is unparalleled. Last 2004, 90 percent of Filipinos got their “power” from the television, Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN’s news and public affairs told delegates at the 5th Annual Forum of Emerging Leaders in Asian Journalism convened by the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, June 7 and 8.
Ressa said ABS-CBN is using that power to arm citizens through crowd sourcing which is based on the idea that large groups make smarter, better decisions than an elite few. She said however that change would not happen overnight.
“Small steps can make a change,” she explained. “Change happens if you do it in stages.” That is the strategy of her station.
It started in 2005 with programs such as Patrol, Ako ang Simula, and Boto Mo, Ipatrol Mo. These programs nurtured and built a patroller community and the station supported them by holding lectures, talks, and activities nationwide. So when former president Corazon Aquino died, ABS-CBN called on Boto patrollers for their memories and the station received a blast of emails, which added diversity and richness to a story that affected the entire nation.
Ressa said ABS-CBN called on patrollers during typhoon Ondoy in September 2009. These patrollers became journalists, as they shared stories, took photos, and updated their social networking sites providing ways to help one another.
During the lead up to the 2010 national elections, she said the station used the Internet as a primer to get feedback during the 2009 Leadership Forums, as well as the Vice-Presidential debate.
All of these examples show how the power is with the people, and they can work with media to make a difference. In this multimedia media world citizen engagement is essential. “We can change the world. You are powerful and you will make a difference!” Ressa concluded.
On air was yesterday, online is today
The media continues to evolve with technological development, observed Dr Holger Briel of the University of Nicosia in the same forum.
As the Internet becomes the new media, he said traditional broadcasters have to shift means of transmission to the Internet.
Dr. Briel said the Internet enables networks to maximize the growth of technology, for example video.
In the era of multimedia, journalists throughout the world are required to report for multiple platforms. To catch up with that requirement, the demand for training and education on multimedia journalism is rising.
This posed challenges to the university. The question is: how to teach and how to get the new type of journalism into teaching programmes, explained Dr. Randy Reddick from Texas Technology University, in his talk in the forum.
Drawing from curricula changes in his journalism department, Dr. Reddick said the first step of teaching multimedia journalism would be to include skills in all courses. That means all faculty must become proficient in new software and tools so that even print journalists can package stories for broadcast and online.
But Dr. Reddick added multimedia journalism must still be grounded in traditional core principles – research and reporting, being responsible, thorough and compelling, and storytelling.
“One of the most important thing in teaching multimedia journalism is to make students think visually in all stories they do,” Dr. Reddick stated.
Through his experience from teaching multimedia, Reddick said that most students struggle with the mindset that require them produce a package of stories with images and videos.
“The mindset issue still troubles me,” he noted.
The main reason newspapers are losing readers is their boring way of storytelling, and that is why “we need to expand our vision and need to be thinking multimedia all the time.”
In the multimedia environment, he said we will always have to ask ourselves “what is the best way to tell the story?” He said “thinking visually” would help answer the question.