Around the University TownMcLuhan Fellow to students: Defend truth

McLuhan Fellow to students: Defend truth

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“No shackles are strong enough against a free press,” veteran-broadcast journalist Karmina Constantino-Torres told the campus press during the Marshall McLuhan Forum held March 7 at  Silliman University.

The ABS-CBN News Channel anchor was in Dumaguete following her 2022 McLuhan fellowship award given by the Embassy of Canada, represented in the Philippines by Carlo Figueroa, senior Public Affairs officer.

The forum was held during this year’s SU MassCom Week celebration.

During her talk on freedom and free press, Constantino traced the roots of the “toxic post-truth era” and how it made factual information irrelevant.

“Sa mga panahon ngayon, mas makapangyarihan ang mga ‘Marites’, and caught in the snares of this toxic post truth era is us, the public, basing what could be life-changing decisions on false or incomplete, even sanitized information,” she said.

Constantino pointed out politicians who directly engaged and captured the public eye through word-of-mouth as an example of “power and popularity” dictating the truth.

According to her, the public should rely instead on truth-seekers and storytellers to give them a complete narrative. Journalists, however, have been targeted by “forces at play” in the country, she added.

“The very reason for our existence is put into question through attacks made by those who want democracy dead,” she said. “The strikes on journalists and journalism in general have been relentless, and to some extent, fatal.”

As a veteran journalist, Constantinto looked back when the ABS-CBN company was shut down first in 1972 under the Marcos dictatorship, and then again in 2020 under Duterte’s administration.

While only a few remain loyal to their duty to the country, Constantino urged the students to use their voice in helping safeguard the truth, and the nation’s democratic development.

“We can bend a knee, or we can choose to hold the line, no matter the scale and size of government forces or business muscle used against an independent media intent on being free,” she said.

 

Journalists’ role against disinformation

The McLuhan fellow also encouraged campus journalists to combat disinformation whenever the opportunity presents itself.

“When there’s an opportunity to make things right, you take it. We are at war with disinformation, and to put a stop to every attempt at deceiving the public is the game; our goal at the very least is to present the public with the possibility of ownership over each decision they make,” Constantino said.

However, she emphasized that people believing in a form of truth must “not only be relentless” but also need to involve empathy and accountability.

Meanwhile, Mac Edsel Florendo, SU MassCom alumnus and one of the panelists, said that battling disinformation as media practitioners requires the “right mindset” to advocate for truth and positive social change.

“As a voice artist, I use my voice to advocate social change. Ang laban natin dito is what is true, what is good, and what is right,” he added.

Other reactors were local broadcaster Michael Joseph Ramo, and Jennifer Catan-Tilos, manager of the Philippine Information Agency.

 

Campus press vs. media censorship

During the open forum, a member of a student publication in the University Town, asked where campus journalists should stand in the midst of rampant  censorship of student publications.

“You should know your stand, your own truth [through] introspection,” Constantino advised. “You should not be dictated by others on what you should believe or stand for.”

More than a hundred Masscom students, faculty and staff, and alumni attended this year’s Marshall McLuhan forum which centered on the theme “Free Press and Responsible Media.”

Constantino also gave a lecture on “The Art of Interviewing” to  campus journalists from the Negros Oriental State University,  Foundation University, and the Weekly Sillimanian.

The forum was organized by the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines and the SU College of Mass Communication. (Kean Andrei Bagaipo)

 

The news article by Kean Andrei Bagaipo won 1st place in the Inter-Org Newswriting Contest organized by the Kapunungan sa mga Mass Communicators, and sponsored by Batch 99 of the SU College of Mass Communication.

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