WATCH: Campus journalists on why press freedom matters
MANILA, Philippines – How can campus journalists participate in defending press freedom?
For World Press Freedom Day on Thursday, May 3, several campus journalists from different universities in Metro Manila shared with Rappler their thoughts on why campus journalism and press freedom is important in an era of fake news and disinformation.
It all starts on campus
For many of them, campus journalism helped mold critical thinking as Filipino youth. (READ: Why campus journalists should go beyond classrooms)
For Aica Escarez, a 20-year-old student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), campus journalism honed her skills and her passion for communication.
"As a student...simula nung elementary (since elementary), I've been a managing editor of a newspaper, and this is how I saw the world, how I started my passion in communication," Escarez told Rappler.
"This is where I saw that there are lots of problems that can be addressed by opening the eyes of the people," she added.
This was echoed by Franco Luna, a campus journalist from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), who said that campus journalism is why he has come to believe in the potential of the youth.
"I've seen how campus journalism triggers critical thinking on campus," he said. "[Freedom of the press and freedom of expression] help people make informed decisions by themselves," Luna added.
Several students also noted how campus journalism can shape public opinion, and how this allows them to think critically about issues that are important to the country.
"Sila ang naghihimok sa mga mamamayan para kumilos sa kanilang demokratikong karapatan (Campus journalists encourage citizens to act according to their democratic rights)," said Josiah Antonio, 20 years old, from UP Diliman.
"Naniniwala ako na ang malayang pamamayag ay nagbibigay ng kritikal na pananaw ng ating kasaysayan, ng mga pangyayari ngayon (I believe that press freedom provides a critical perspective of our history and of current events)," said Luis Foronda, campus journalist from De La Salle University Manila.
Media in the age of disinformation
Another campus journalist from Ateneo, Gerald John Guillermo, also said campus journalism and the media are among the pillars of a democracy.
"Kung hindi natin ito bibigyan ng pansin or bibigyan ng diin, makikita natin ang patuloy na pagbagsak ng demokrasya (If we do not give it sufficient importance or emphasis, we will see the continuous erosion of democracy)," Guillermo said.
Other students also highlighted the significance of defending press freedom, especially in the age of fake news and disinformation. (READ: The different faces of press freedom violations vs campus journalists)
The spread of fake news and disinformation has risen exponentially in recent years because of social media. These worldwide trends have posed a threat to the state of democracy in different countries, including the Philippines.
"I believe that it can serve as a training and a learning ground for us to be aware of the social issues that we encounter nowadays such as misinformation, disinformation," said Kristina Hernandez, 17, from San Beda University Manila. (READ: Journalists should always stand up against fake information)
For Flint Osric Gorospe, a campus journalist from Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila, press freedom is important in unveiling the truth.
"Naniniwala ako na mahalaga ang malayang pamamahayag dahil nakakatulong ito upang maisiwalat ang mga katotohanan sa mga pangyayari sa bansa, lalo pa't laganap ngayon ang fake news at ang akto ng disimpormasyon ay nagiging gawi na ng karamihan (I believe that press freedom is important because it helps unveil the truth about events in our country especially now that fake news is prevalent and spreading disinformation is becoming common practice for a lot of people)," Gorospe said.
Crissel Tenolete, 19, from UPLB, believes that an attack on media outlets is also an attack on the country's democracy. She asked her fellow students and campus journalists to take a stand against these media attacks.
"Let's fight against misinformation and disinformation and let us defend press freedom," Tenolete declared. (READ: Does the Campus Journalism Act protect press freedom?)
For more stories on issues around this year's celebration of World Press Freedom Day, visit: rappler.com/pressfreedom2018. – Rappler.com