community media

demonstrates how media which is created for and by the community serve as an effective venue to express community issues and concerns, promote participation, and encourage cultural diversity.



ON the whole, the Cebu media has had a quite interesting century of development and growth despite the clearly economic handicap suffered by the men and women who worked behind its progress. But while it did perform quite commendably in affirming the significant ways of democracy in relation to our right to free press and speech, still the media community could have done more. Indeed, given the dynamism of the local media players both on the side of the practitioners and the risk-taking investors, the local media industry has been able to withstand the rigors of the struggle for economic survival.

Right now, if one should try to generate a prevailing contemporary portrait of the Cebu media, it would not be difficult to show its development as a forward-looking industry that holds the promise of getting ever stronger and sturdier. The “infusion” into its midst of the basic features of the advances in information technology, has brought Cebu media abreast of the global communications revolution. It has now developed a firm foundation for taking off into the future with less risk of failure, and more chances of success.

The unusually sincere interest shown by the local government leaders in supporting the setting up of the needed ICT infrastructure indicates affirmation of a brighter prospect for the current media industry. As it is, new publications, this time in the area of magazines, are emerging in Cebu with more sophisticated printing facilities producing quality products, not only in lay outing and composition, but also in content. The most recent of this, is a twice-monthly magazine called the Business Profile, which at this moment is only on its fourth issue. But it is Cebu’s first publication of its genre that devotes its pages solely to the business sector. And judged from the business community’s response, the Profile glows with all the vestiges of fulfilling its promise.

In the audio-visual sphere, a recent entrant in the media community that is not part of a national network, but one that is purportedly emanating in Cebu, is the Cebu Catholic Television Network (CCTN) which has a reach throughout the Visayas and Northern Mindanao. While its programming is essentially slanted to religious values, it is trying to keep up with trends in mass audience attraction by going for the tele-series but mostly locally produced, absorbing in a sense, the dislocated media artists of the radio dramas that had been discontinued by some stations.

Cebu’s radio stations are trying to hold their own in the face of strong challenges from television, more particularly the AM stations. Both the AM and FM stations anchor their strength at surviving on the fact that many of the rural folks cannot still afford TV units, except for those who have kin overseas. The OFWs are having the utilization of their for the construction of their dream houses and equipping these with appliances. With power already available in the countryside, it is not unsual to see houses lining the provincial road with TV antennae adorning the roofs. But these houses are still not many enough to be able to cut down the “radio” owning population of the countryside.

In a way, the population of Cebu which is now almost three million is the source of Cebu media’s potential strength in the coming years. Right now, the countryside is hardly tapped or reached by local and national publications, as well as the audio-visual media. In ICT, only a few municipalities can claim to have an internet café. That is the present condition, but here lies the lush prospect of Cebu’s media industry. It nourishes the “economic” hope of the province’s professional journalists, of their being able to assure themselves of a promising livelihood in the coming decades of this new century.

However, what can be said as a most impressive achievement of the contemporary Cebu media, is the established professionalism of the practicing journalists in both print and broadcast outlets. A few years back, there was established a Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation (CENEWOF). At the insistence of the radio and television workers, the name has lately been changed to Cebu Media Workers Foundation. And then, sometime last year, when there were efforts of non-affiliated media groups to join the legitimate media workers, a federation of beat reporters’ associations was organized.

Thus, at the instance of Atty. Pacheco Seares, Sun Star Daily editor-in-chief, reporters from all the three dailies in the city as well as the radio and television stations covering various beat assignments, from City Hall to the Provincial Capitol, organized themselves into separate association. Then the different groups, joined together to form a federation. This year, as the Cebu media practitioners celebrate again the annual Cebu Press Week in September, the journalists of Cebu shall have shown a truly united media force.

In 1980, in order to “enhance the standards of journalism, promote professionalism and ensure the welfare of workers in the print media industry, the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation was established. Behind its establishment were two of Cebu’s most respected journalists, Atty. Pacheco Seares and the late Concepcion Gantuangco Briones. Since then, as an organization that emanated from the private-sector, CENEWOF received all kinds of assistance from the benevolent members of the “Cebuano community including those with family ties to journalism.” The foundation has since then undertaken a good number of projects designed to upgrade professional standards among the practitioners and improve “the welfare of the workers in the print media industry…”

One of those who greatly helped Cebu’s media industry was the late Senate President Marcelo B. Fernan. Thus, when the CENEWOF established a Cebu press center, it was named in honor of the late Senate President. Today, the Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center , truly a major project of the foundation, now offers a 330-seat mini-theater for the use not only of the media community, but also for the various organizations of the city that may need a venue for cultural events and performing arts presentations. It has also seminar rooms, a library with computer facilities, a media training laboratory, and of course, offices of the foundation and the newscoop.

The Cebu Newspaper Workers Multi-purpose Cooperative membership include all workers of the print media industry from the top of the industry’s business and editorial management down to the machine operators and support services workers. The newscoop extends loans not only for emergency family financial needs but also for livelihood projects. The foundation is initiating a housing program for the members, too, as well as health insurance benefits. There is a plan to expand further its lending program to members who would want to undertake entrepreneurial business projects.

The CENEWOF has also initiated these many years an annual lecture series held on the birth anniversary of the late President Sergio Osmena, Sr. Intended to honor the man that pioneered journalism in Cebu, the series has so far featured as lecturers “outstanding leaders, statesmen and professionals that included former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez, the late Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos P. Romulo, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and Publisher Max Soliven. The foundation has compiled and published the lectures in a book called “Sergio Osmena, the Enduring Legacy,” which was edited by Resil B. Mojares, a Cebuano writer and scholar.

Another annual activity of the foundation is the holding every September of the Press Freedom Week that has been earlier mentioned. In 1993, the foundation initiated the giving of the Pres. Sergio Memorial Awards that honors “selected Cebuanos for outstanding performance in either the public or private sector…from various fields of endeavor.” And the finally, the foundation also has a scholarship fund “for deserving students in the field of mass communications in Cebu schools such as the U.P College, Cebu, St. Theresa’s College, and the University of San Jose-Recoletos.

Indeed, talking of the prospects of the Cebu media industry, it would certainly be safe to aver that it is bright enough for the practicing Cebuano journalists to be glad and proud that he or she is doing it in Cebu more than in any other place of the country.