Keeping those in authority accountable and giving people the power to make informed decisions based on trustworthy news reports are two of the most crucial roles that journalists play.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) helps fulfill this dual role by training student journalists to be independent, ethical, and fearless even as it inculcates in them the importance of a free press in preserving genuine democracy because it guarantees that citizens are informed, government remains transparent, and a forum for the open exchange of ideas is created.
It is important for student journalists to learn both the skills and ethics essential to continue the proud tradition of a free press because some of our most outstanding journalists today got their start in campus newsrooms.
Courageous and incorruptible journalists, both professional reporters and student journalists alike, are needed now more than ever as authoritarianism and impunity govern the actions of those who wield power in our nation. A principled and vibrant press is critical in ensuring the rule of law and the transparency that a free – even adversarial – press brings keeps government officials on their toes, decreases the risk of corruption and promotes the basic right of citizens to make the best possible informed decisions about their government, their communities and their lives.
There is no such thing as impartial journalism. There is, however, a better option – responsible reportage and truthful recording of events where the journalist always takes a moral stand. There is a piece of advice that journalism professors keep on repeating to their students: “If someone tells you that it is raining outside and another person tells you that it is not, your responsibility is not to quote them both. Your responsibility is to look out the fucking window.”
We are indebted to CEGP for having long been a training ground for young activist-leaders who look out the window and tell the story for what it really is.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN