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A History of Journalism in the Philippines Essay

Revolution, the press, which plays a potent role in the promotion of truth, justice, and democracy, and of peace, progress, and prosperity, was liberated from dictatorship. During this period, crony newspapers were closed and the National Press Club and the Philippine Press Institute were revived to professionalize mass media in the country. During this period, significant changes, advances, and developments have taken place in Philippine journalism. Newspapers and periodicals have expanded in pages, sections, coverages, and circulations.

They have become venues of sensitive issues like death penalty, charter change, juetengate scandal, and visiting forces agreement, and of diverse issues about the civil society, land reform, human rights, genders issues, and other areas that before the 1986 EDSA Revolution were previously ignored or minimally covered. Some investigative reports have led to further investigations, have enhanced transparency, and have reduced corruption in the judiciary, executive, and legislative branches of the government.

These developments are attributed to the continuing efforts of the newspaper and the periodical industry and their research and academic organizations: the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, which conducts rigorous research in the affairs of the state; the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, which upgrades professionalism and responsibility of media practitioners through seminars, workshops, and publications; the Philippine Press Institute, which conducts trainings and sponsors the Annual Community Press Awards that recognizes excellence among provincial newspapers and periodicals; and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, which offers graduate studies in journalism and in communication management and conducts media research, interim training, and policy advocacy.

In 1998, there are 14 daily broadsheets and 19 tabloids published in Metro Manila. Among the broadsheets with the biggest circulations include the Manila Bulletin with a claimed circulation of 280 000 on weekdays and 300 000 on weekends and the Philippine Daily Inquirer with a claimed circulation of 260 000 on weekdays and 280 000 on weekends. Among the tabloids with the biggest circulations include the Abante with a claimed circulation of 417 600 and the People’s Journal with a claimed circulation of 382 000. Out of the 408 provincial newspapers and periodicals, 30 are printed daily, 292 are published weekly, and the rest are circulated either monthly or quarterly.

Today, based from the 2000 Philippine Media Fact Book, there are 559 print publications, 475 broadsheets, 45 magazines, and 39 tabloids and comics; 22 percent are published in the National Capital Region, 12 broadsheets, 17 tabloids, 32 magazines, 39 comics, and 5 Chinese newspapers. Among the broadsheets with the biggest circulations include the Philippine Daily Inquirer with a daily circulation of 257 416, followed by the Philippine Star, 251 000, and the Manila Bulletin, 240 000. Other broadsheets with their daily circulation are as follows: Today, 152 268; Kabayan, 150 000; Malaya, 135 193; Manila Standard, 96 310; Sun Star Manila, 87 000; Philippine Post, 78 218; The Manila Times, 75 000; Business World, 61 283; and The Daily Tribune, 50 000.

Among the tabloids with the biggest circulations include Bulgar with a daily circulation of 448 450, followed by the People’s Journal, 382 200, and the People’s Tonight, 365 811. Other tabloids with their daily circulation are as follows: Remate, 310 000; Abante, 260 000; Bandera, 253 523; Pilipino Star Ngayon, 250 200, People’s Bagong Taliba, 210 000; Balita, 175 725; Tempo, 160 000; Abante Tonight, 150 000; Isyu, 126 835; Saksi Ngayon, 100 000; Remate Tonight, 90 000; Balita sa Hapon, 35 000; and Sun Star Bulilit, 30 000.

Among the Sunday supplements of daily newspapers, Panorama of the Manila
Bulletin has the highest number of circulation, 300 000, followed by the Sunday Inquirer Magazine of the Philippine daily Inquirer, 268 575, and the Starweek Magazine of the Philippine Star, 268 000. Among the entertainment magazines, Glitter has the highest number of circulation with 300 000, followed by the Pilipino Reporter News Magazine, 188 192, and the Woman Today, 184 900.


Inquiry, Dissent, and Struggle

Javier Flores and Ava Vivian Gonzales

Though the Philippine Collegian retains the singular distinction of being the most illustrious campus paper in the country, there is no single Collegian. A rummage through the archives, through pages crumbling with age, reveals an impermanence of its character.

There are indeed as many versions of the Collegian as there are batches of writers and students, and passing crises peculiar to different times. Each generation names its own foes.

The process of writing, subversive as it is, fords the inter-generational divide. Such exercise puts one upon inquiry, the starting point of advocacy. When one writes, one requires breathing space: the right to dissect any topic under the sun and in the domain of heaven, and the right not to be interfered with in so doing. The practice of interrogating accepted modes of thinking and overturning paradigms breeds criticism of the powers that be.

In the Collegian’s storied past, this criticism, coming at times when to be informed was an offense, was not always welcome. There were issues which came out with white spaces where editorials should have been. Homobono Adaza, then editor in chief (EIC), was removed from office for writing an editorial against the UP Administration. During the Martial Law years, staffers were threatened that they would not graduate if they persisted in attacking the government. The bright lives of some of its editors: Abraham Sarmiento Jr., Antonio Tagamolila, and Enrique Voltaire Garcia III, among a host of others, were snuffed out.

The history of the Collegian is likewise replete with struggles against those who desired to shackle the freedom of writers: the fight against vague provisions on the selection of judges for the editorial exam; the battle to abolish the position of a faculty adviser who had to sign every page proof of the paper; and the endeavor to take care of its own coffers without the Administration holding its finances hostage.

Since the birth of Collegian in 1922, generations of writers have dipped their pens into the inkwell of society racked with vicissitudes. The Collegian was a party in their efforts to resolve the varied inequities of the times with articles that seared, and commentaries that burned. It is imperative that we turn the page to remind us of the efforts of those who came before us.

Perfection lies not behind us, but ahead of us. It is not a forsaken paradise, but a territory we must one day conquer, a city we must one day build. Nevertheless, it is not a mortal sin to occasionally contemplate the cornerstones that have been placed by those before us to show us what is possible.

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