Media and journalism issues

Provincial press hardly independent, as most owned, ran by politicians

Ferdinand Zuasola

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Provincial press hardly independent, as most owned, ran by politicians

FILE PHOTO: Editha Caduaya, owner of Davao City-based .Newsline Philippines

facebook pageEditha Zaragosa Caduaya

Only 20% of provincial press is independent as a big majority of news outlets are owned by politicians, says owner of Davao-based online news outfit

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – The owner of Davao City-based Newsline Philippines, among the region’s biggest online news outlets, said the provincial press could hardly perform independent journalism because 80% of news agencies are owned and ran by politicians.

Edith Caduaya, owner of online news outfit, Newsline Philippines, which has a 430,000 followers, said most news agencies, from traditional radio and newspapers to the most popular social media outlets, use the platforms for their political interests.

“What press freedom? Truth is press freedom is on a lockdown. That is the truth! How can you thrive in a dog-eats-dog environment? How can you survive as an independent provincial journalist where 80% of the news outlets are owned by politicians? Try doing independent journalism by attacking the corrupt most powerful politicians in the region and you will be bashed no end by fellow journalists who are on the payroll of politicians who owns and run big and influential radio and online news outlets,” said Caduaya.

“And we are so far away from Manila. Here, there is a prevailing culture of violence. You will be bashed and bullied if you do independent journalism,” Caduaya added.

She recalled the fate of Newsline Philippines reporter Orlando Dinoy who was gunned down on October 30, 2021 inside his small apartment on Mother Ignacia Street in the town of Bansalan in Davao del Sur province.

She said the job-related murder of its reporter remained unsolved. She also noted that majority of the assassinated journalists in Mindanao are radio broadcasters.

On Wednesday, May 3, during the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day celebration, Rappler asked several political leaders in Davao Oriental on their thoughts on press freedom.

“Press freedom is sine qua non to human life and dignity in the eyes of our Creator,” says Ednar Dayanghirang, who was a former member of the government peace panel that negotiate talks with the insurgent group, Communist Party of the Philippines.

For former Davao Oriental second district Representative Joel Mayo Almario, press freedom “is indispensable, responsible press that is.”

However, Caduaya said the creation of government-run news pages and the mushrooming “news platforms” being constructed by politicians is lording it over in social media and these threaten to kill the private-run news organizations in the country.

“The FOI (Freedom of Information) law is useless. Most politicians and government offices no longer grant media interview. They direct us to their official Facebook pages. These government-run and politician-run news pages are bent on killing the private independent media. That is why for independent journalism to survive, there is really a need for tactical alliance among journalists and advocates for transparency and good governance,” said Caduaya. –

Ferdinand Zuasola is an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellow.

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