Bukidnon media mark World Press Freedom Day 2024

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MALAYBALAY CITY (03 May 2024/BukidnonNews.Net) Expressions of solidarity and aspirations for safety and sustainability, including updates from the organizers of the national commemoration marked the local gathering for World Press Freedom Day 2024 here in Bukidnon.

Representatives from both media organizations and media outlets operating in Bukidnon took part in the Bukidnon Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2024 via Zoom virtual platform on May 3, 2024.   This year’s WPFD theme focused on “A press for the planet: Journalism in the face of environmental crisis”.

Officials from Bukidnon’s three major media organizations, the Bukidnon Press Club, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas - Bukidnon Chapter, and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines  - Bukidnon Chapter spoke during the event. Representatives from a total of 15 print and online media outlets and radio stations also joined the online event organized by BukidnonNews.Net and the Development Communication Department of Bukidnon State University College of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Red Batario, Executive Director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development and convener of the 1st Philippine Media Safety Summit provided updates about the summit, which took place in Quezon City from May 2-3, 2024. Mr. Batario spoke in the online session, during a break from plenary discussions in the summit, where panel discussions were held drawing out plans and strategies for the updating of the  Philippine Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists.

In the summit, Mr. Batario said, it was emphasized that Human Rights is the overarching framework of journalist safety. Inputs were also presented on the State of Media Safety in the Philippines and the gains and gaps in addressing safety, security, and sustainability of the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.

He said summit workshops were held on Ensuring Conducive Working Conditions and Duty of Care,  Searching for a Sustainable Business Model: The Print and Broadcast Business Amidst a Rapidly Changing Media Landscape, Facing the Challenges of Freelance Journalism, Addressing Gender-Based Threats and Attacks, Tackling Issues Confronting Visual Journalists, and Enhancing the Role of Journalism Education in Media Safety.

Mr. Batario said there were also cross-cutting themes tackled in the summit including Disinformation, AI and Digital Technology; Environment, Disaster Risk and Climate Change;  Continuing Vilification Including “Red Tagging” of Journalists and Activists; and Partnerships Between Media, Human Rights Groups and Other Sectors.

Mr. Batario assured Bukidnon journalists that the efforts being done will benefit all journalists, wherever they are in the Philippines.  

In the second part of Bukidnon WPFD 2024 Commemoration, Mr. Walter I. Balane, a faculty member of the BukSU Development Communication Department and previously a full time journalist, gave a mini-lecture on Reporting Environment Stories: Going Beyond Event-Based Coverage. Mr. Balane is the weekend editor of BukidnonNews.Net, former Bukidnon and Davao City reporter of MindaNews, Grassroots Documentation and Reporting Training coordinator of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism, and former president of the Bukidnon Press Club.  

He anchored his lecture on the WPFD 2024 theme adding there is greater need for media to tackle its coverage of environment issues confronting the citizens side by side with pressing media issues cited in the summit.  

He said news coverage should not only report on the damage to the environment as an endpoint but take stock of its role in raising awareness, fostering dialogue, and driving action to mitigate environmental degradation, climate change, and other ecological threats.

He said media’s coverage of the environment should go beyond the usual fare of shallow snapshot coverage and usual sources as event-based coverage are.  He urged participants to dig deeper into the events they cover and explain the issues behind.

Mr. Balane said oftentimes environmental issues appear less palatable to cover by media because of its complexities  - paving way for more coverage of crime and violence.

According to the WPFD presser, journalists encounter significant challenges in seeking and disseminating information on contemporary issues, such as supply-chains problems, climate migration, extractive industries, illegal mining, pollution, poaching, animal trafficking, deforestation, or climate change.

”Ensuring the visibility of these issues is crucial for promoting peace and democratic values worldwide,” organizers said in the statement.

Mr. Balane said community media should scale up in environmental coverage by training and by bridging scientists and communicators to better understand and cover environmental issues. 

He said journalists should tap the expertise of scientists to get better grasp of environmental issues. But he said media's role is to approach scientists and translate information that audiences can relate to. He also invited media to interview also people on the ground who are directly affected by the environment issues. He said this will make the stories bear a human face to be more relatable, rather than relying on official sources and statistics. He also urged media outlets to invest in hiring communication and journalism graduates to improve coverage of environment and other community issues.

Mr. Balane said while the news media is confronted with safety, security, and sustainability issues , it should also consider up scaling in its coverage of community issues to be more credible to its audiences.

Mr. Balane cited difficulties in his coverage of the Malaybalay City forest fire, a project for instructional materials in teaching Development Journalism. He said apart from talking only to official sources among environment authorities, media should talk to people on the ground - like the forest fire fighters and other stakeholders in the community.  

In their messages, Mr. Armando Benabaye of the KBP-Bukidnon , Mr. Rudy Tagimacruz of BPC, and Ms. Ching Castuera of NUJP-Bukidnon expressed solidarity and shared aspirations for journalists.   Ms. Castuera said local stakeholders should work for more of similar initiatives in the future for the development of community journalism.

Fifteen of 20 media outlets who registered to attend made it to the online meet, including: Radyo Commando, Mindanao Gold Star Daily, Juander Radyo, DXIQ, Brigada News, Central Mindanao Newswatch, FMRadio 105.1, DXDB, DXMB, DXBU, Net 25,, PIA-Bukidnon, PRIO, and PAIA-Bukidnon. 

Ms. Maria Efrelij J. Cuadra, Chairperson  of the BukSU Development Communication Department, in her closing remarks, expressed support to the media community and looked forward to more collaborations with the Bukidnon news media industry.

The Philippine Information Agency-Bukidnon assisted with secretariat  work and inviting participants to the commemoration. BukSU’s DXBU 104.5, a KBP-Bukidnon member station, also lent its Zoom Account. The Public Relations and Information Office (PRIO) of Central Mindanao University and the Public Affairs and Information Assistance (PAIA) office of Bukidnon also sent participants.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.(BukidnonNews.Net)

Mr. Red Batario, CCJD Executive Director, Courtesy of Internews

Mr. Red Batario, CCJD Executive Director, Courtesy of Internews

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