Some years ago, the Scholastic Press Alliance was formally launched during the PPI National Press Forum accompanied by a short seminar on Civic Journalism with some editors from member-publications in the provinces as resource persons. A brainchild of the late Jose Pavia, who was inspired by the Columbia State University’s journalism program, the SPA was the offshoot of the occasional activities for journalism and communication students and educators and campus writers conducted outside of the regular training programs attended exclusively by PPI members.
In the past, these activities were called Newsmakers’ Forum which later became Journalists’ Forum under the auspices of the Freedom Forum Library-Virginia which eventually ceased its support in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. What happened next was not a total abandonment of the effort but a re-invention and strengthening of academic collaboration by way of a short program attached to a regular seminar-workshop.
In 2002, the effort of engaging future journalists was discussed and eventually revived as an Outreach Program of both the PPI and the PPC. The aim of teaching journalism and inspiring aspirants has since then progressed. It was not limited to schools in Metro Manila. In fact, it became a parallel or attached activity to a particular training program of the Institute when it went to the provinces to conduct its seminars and workshops.
The content has been expanded to include ethics, right of reply and media accountability. Media critic and seasoned editor Vergel Santos, then PPI executive director Jose Pavia, former Press Council chairman Gary Mariano and publisher Isagani Yambot served as resource persons. Places reached were cities of Davao, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Nueva Ecija, Baguio, Gen. Santos and Bacolod.
A host school usually became the venue of the seminar and took charge of inviting other schools at no cost or charge.
The goal of the Scholastic Press Outreach Program is to engage campus journalists to showcase a high level of achievement and to develop programs that would enrich the skill of young aspiring journalists and campus writers. The need to hone them and immerse them in the actual practice are one of the challenges that it wants to address whereby reinforcing what they learn in school.
Some PPI members in Mindanao, Luzon and Visayas have since then initiated their own scholastic programs in their respective areas ‘using’ award-winning and experienced journalists as resource persons.
“Member-publications in the areas can serve as laboratory for on-the-job training. Enabling them to write and be involved in media issues help them prepare for the rigors of journalism if they become journalists themselves,” said Amalia Cabusao, editor-in-chief of Mindanao Times based in Davao. She served as coordinator for the latest outreach program conducted in Davao City which was attended by over 80 campus writers and communication students from fourteen schools.
Dino Balabo, senior reporter of the Mabuhay newspaper and lecturer at the Bulacan State University has also done the same program for journalism and communication students in Bulacan.
Content with the result of the first initiative of the members in Davao City, the Embassy of Canada through its Public Affairs Attache Carlo Figueroa promised to support the next seminar in Cebu City. MacLuhan Fellows and multi-awarded journalists Yvonne Chua and Luz Rimban will be one of the resource persons. Members in Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod are also planning to conduct the same program.
This year’s theme for the scholastic press programs is excellence and ethics in journalism. Media issues such as the freedom of information, right of reply, press freedom and impunity will also be attendant topics in the seminar.
IN PHOTO: Jamie Christoff, Political Counsellor of the Embassy of Canada, opened the scholastic press seminar in Cebu City.