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GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Commitment and love of work have kept the people behind the Mindanao-based news organization MindaNews together for over two decades as they continue to provide news stories through the lens of Mindanaoans.
MindaNews has made a marked difference in journalism and public information, serving as an alternative news medium. The news organization, which has overcome numerous challenges, celebrated its 22nd founding anniversary on May 25.
“Labor of love is the only explanation I can offer for why we are still here,” said Carolyn Arguillas, one of the founding journalists of MindaNews who serves as its editor-in-chief until Wednesday, May 31.
The Davao City-based MindaNews is among the first news outlets in the country to establish an online presence, sending their first stories and photographs to clients through e-mail on May 25, 2001. A year later, they launched their website, www.mindanews.com.
Before it was established, Arguillas and several other Mindanao journalists felt the need to provide an “unbiased perspective” on Mindanao, as most stories were often influenced by Manila editors who viewed Mindanao as a war-torn area.
This prompted Arguillas and Roberto “Bobby” Timonera, along with other Mindanao-based journalists, to leave their jobs with Manila broadsheets and establish MindaNews.
Arguillas expressed confidence that MindaNews would still be thriving in the next decade, overcoming the challenges of an ever-changing journalism landscape.
“We’ve been through the worst and we look forward to a brighter future,” Arguillas said, hinting at upcoming MindaNews innovations.
Effective Thursday, June 1, Arguillas will assume the position of MindaNews’ head of publications, archives, and library.
Timonera, who will succeed Arguillas as editor-in-chief, sees one challenge ahead for MindaNews: attracting young people to journalism.
“We need younger manpower as most of us are getting old,” he said.
The Iligan City-based Timonera said many new graduates are enticed by high-paying online jobs, such as becoming social media influencers, YouTube vloggers, or content writers, which offer better-earning potential.
The tech-savvy journalist and photographer said that while teaching newcomers how to be good journalists and improve their storytelling skills is relatively easy, instilling a greater appreciation for traditional journalism is a big challenge.
“They even look at traditional journalism as legacy journalism, and there already lies the challenge aside from finding young talents – whose commitment and dedication to their job can match that of the old timers – who can work even for less pay,” Timonera said.
Unless this challenge is met, Timonera sees only MindaNews’ current alternate editors Marcos Mordeno or Romer Sarmiento replacing him as editor-in-chief someday.
He said, “The momentum is already there; it’s just a matter of sustaining it. How it must be done is up to those on the business side.”
Arguillas hinted that they were devising a plan to improve the business aspect of MindaNews.
Beyond the news
She said MindaNews has achieved so much more than just being a news service organization, which is quite hard to ignore.
For one, MindaNews has established platforms like the Mindanao Media Summit, where Mindanao editors, news managers, and journalism students gather to exchange notes and ideas on improving their understanding of Mindanao and its reportage. This initiative has been ongoing since 2002.
MindaNews has also been organizing the Mindanao Summer Institute of Journalism, a training program for students and anyone interested in journalism. They have conducted several trainings on grassroots documentation and reporting, as well as training for information officers.
On March 10, MindaNews joined the ranks of a select few news organizations accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a network of fact-checkers launched at Poynter in 2015 to combat misinformation globally.
MindaNews is the only Mindanao-based news organization among the four accredited by the IFCN. These organizations include Vera Files, Rappler, and Press One.
“Try to imagine Mindanao without MindaNews,” Arguillas quipped.
In 2015, MindaNews received the Award for Distinction from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility for its commitment to accuracy, fairness, and relevance. Since its founding, MindaNews has provided Filipinos with the information and analyses they need to understand the particularities of the Mindanao reality.
In 2013, MindaNews was awarded the “Favorite Online News Portal” in the First Blue Knight Media Awards by Ateneo de Davao University.
Ateneo de Zamboanga University also recognized MindaNews in 2010 with the Ateneo Peace Award for their significant contributions to providing accurate, timely, and comprehensive news and information on Mindanao, its people, culture, and advocacies.
MindaNews also received the Mindanao Peace Champion award from the ACT for Peace Programme of the Government of the Philippines-United Nations Development Programme-Philippines. – Rappler.com