MANILA, Philippines – Dubbed the ‘Olympics of Campus Journalism’, this year’s National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) is set to gather the best of the best campus journalists in Pagadian City from January 22 to 25.
Organized annually by the Department of Education (DepED), this year’s NSPC will focus on easing access to information for greater transparency and accountability.
Filtered by the rigid selection process in their respective regions, young journalists from all over the country will compete for the coveted championship title in a battle where the only weapons are pens, paper and words.
Passion and competition
Rendzborg Bautista, layout artist of the Collaborative Desktop Publishing team of Region VIII and first-time NSPC contender, said he is happy he’s even competing at the national level.
“Pang winner na agad ako sa pag-represent pa lang sa region. Parang lutang pa rin ako na aalis ako to compete for NSPC,” he said. (You are already a winner once you get the honor to represent the region. I still cannot believe that I will be competing at NSPC.)
Bautista also shared that preparing for the conference alone is already a challenge. With a team composed mostly of senior high school students, their different class schedules made it difficult to find a practice schedule common to all.
But this did not hinder delegates like Bautista. To prepare for his category competition, Bautista asked his teammates to send articles online for him to do a mock lay-out. Bautista added that the burden national delegates carry is undeniably 10 times heavier compared to what they experience during regional and division press conferences. (READ: A campus journalist’s guide to air travel)
Marielle Alliah Gelsano of CARAGA region shared how overwhelmed she felt at the opening program of NSPC 2016 in Koronadal City where the keynote speaker, Kara David of GMA 7, inspired all the delegates with her speech.
It was a fulfilling day for her. “If destiny means making your own fate in the long run, I guess I’m destined to be there (NSPC 2016),” Gelsano said.
This happy-go-lucky girl from Agusan del Sur was hailed as the country’s 2nd best in Copyreading and Headline Writing during the NSPC held in 2016. Gelsano qualified again for NSPC this year, an opportunity, she says, is another chance to be on top.
“If ever I’ll make it to (the) top seven, that’s because I love what I’m doing and not because I was eaten alive by pressure,” she added.
Meeting online friends who share the same common passion and interest in journalism excited Gelsano more than ever. She stressed the contribution of what she calls her “online family” in strengthening her skills as a campus journalist. (READ: Journalists as agents of change)
Advisers and mentors
But NSPC is not just about the students. Behind every successful campus journalist are mentors whose devotion to their pupils motivates them to go beyond their duty as teachers.
Teacher Philip Jayson D. Falcis, school paper adviser of The Radiance, the official publication of Ramon A. Benjamin Sr National High School in Capiz Division, literally cried when his student qualified for the NSPC.
“When another contestant from our division was initially called, we did not expect more from us. When Princess Nicole’s name was announced as second place, it was really euphoric,” he recalled.
The most challenging job of school paper advisers like Falcis is how to comfort students who are not able to make it to the next level. For Falcis, being able to attend the Regional Schools Press Conference is already a big break, especially coming from a small school in the province.
Falcis said he is looking forward to the big competition ahead and ready to experience his first NSPC bout.
“I’ll give no pressure (to) my contestant, but rest assured that we will do whatever preparation (is) needed just to give our best shot for our first try in NSPC,” he said. (READ: A not-so NSPC story)
Over the years, the community of campus journalists across the country has evolved, especially with the dawn of the social media era. For example, Campus Journalist Ako (CJA), a Facebook group of campus journalists from around the country, provides an online platform for over 25,000 members to advocate for campus journalism and media literacy.
Through their pioneer program, Jourknows: Journalism for All, they organize and conduct journalism workshops in different parts of the country.
Organizations like CJA allow mutual learning, build connection among journalists, and make it easy for young campus journalists to hone their craft and learn from the experts. – Rappler.com
Jieven Santisteban is a Mover and Campus Journalist. He is also a writer for JourKnows.
Rappler is a partner of DepED for the NSPC 2017.