REFLECTIONS: Understanding citizenship, democracy through community journalism

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LANTAPAN, Bukidnon (15 July 2020) During these unknown times and state of emergencies we are currently facing, it is undeniable that information plays a vital role for the welfare and survival of humanity. Everyone must be informed of the situations that our community is into.

Thus, what we need nowadays are torchbearers who are willing to help lighten the shady areas in our community and spread information towards positive transformations.

Responsible journalism, more specifically community journalism, is imperative as it unravels, communicates and links people from all walks of life. It allows us to be aware, to feel more concerned, urge and encourage to take actions through our news stories and features that may nonetheless inspire others to also continue to do so for the betterment of the community we are in and cared for.

More so, it is also important because community journalism focuses its lens to the people behind the national, international and regional news. The local, too, have stories and issues worth to tell and tackle.

Community journalism serves as a platform for those who are deprived, depressed and underprivileged especially in the marginalized areas to raise their voice and for us in media to listen to.

Bukidnon has so much stories to tell – issues that needs to be addressed, success stories and development works to be appreciated. However, these stories were enclosed only in boxes hidden under their beds. Some of the stories wailed but nobody heard, some were in agony but nobody cared.

We have those kinds of stories in our province but were set aside, neglected and left undocumented. That is why, through community journalism, stories of Bukidnon people can be raised, addressed, showcased - something can be done and that what makes community journalism very important and impactful.

The Community Journalism Youth Fellowship 2019 had offered learnings both for my career and for my life. In the fellowship, we were trained, lectured, and exposed to field work to really see what is in the community and the ironies in life.

The fellowship also taught me so much on poverty reporting. It helped me write news stories of people from the marginalized areas more effectively. It is not just only about finding resource persons, conducting interviews, gathering and presenting facts and statistics.

It is also by being on your respondents’ shoes, patiently understand their situations, experience their struggles, and help them find panacea on their ailing needs. You have to find a way to showcase the lives and feelings of your subjects – not to romanticize but to present only the situations they are into and the way of living their lives.

In this manner, I also learned that you are not just reporting to the mind but also to the heart of your audiences.

As a person, the fellowship contributed so much in personal growth – to feel more aware and

concern about the community I am into and as a Development Communication practitioner, I am exposed to various research, extension and development works. Thus, my learnings from the fellowship did strengthen my passion to help facilitate change, bridge gaps and touch lives in the community through communication.

Roy Peter Clark said “Without a serious study of journalism, there can be no understanding of citizenship, democracy, or community.”

I would be very happy if the fellowship will be continued for more succeeding batches because more young individuals in Bukidnon will experience the same or even more learnings from the fellowship.

More individuals might feel more concerned for their communities. It is both a challenge and rightful for us - young community journalists of these age to be keen and adept enough. We are supposed to help facilitate the achievement of greater social equality and larger fulfillment of the peoples’ potentials.

I would like to thank all people behind the fellowship for giving me an avenue to venture and grow. I hope to see more fellows like me to continue write community stories that informs, educates, inspires people.

I will be forever grateful to and I am so excited to witness more success in your initiatives. Please continue conducting Community Journalism Youth Fellowship because surely then, more community stories will be published not just for the communities in Bukidnon, but for all Filipinos.

The author is from Poblacion Lantapan, Bukidnon. He finished his BS Development Communication degree in Central Mindanao University. He was one of the fellows of the pioneering batch of the Bukidnon Community Youth Journalism Fellowship, organized by BukidnonNews.Net in 2019.

Mr. Jadraque did a story on the town’s vegetable bagsakan area, which was rendered idle for a while.

The fellowship received support from MindaNews and the Philippine Press Institute, the Bukidnon Studies Center and CAS-Social Sciences Department of Bukidnon State University, Print All Station and other individual community partners. BukidnonNews.Net handled editorial work on the fellowsʾ outputs.

IN PHOTO:  The vegetable bagsakan area of Lantapan, Bukidnon. Jan Ariss Jadraque

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